I have an extremely vivid food memory. I can remember specific moments in my life purely from what food was eaten at the time. An insanely good packet of salt&vinegar crisps shared in my first flat; a hearty pulled pork burger with bacon jam eaten soaked through on a wet bench at Glastonbury; to a caramel & museli bun shared in a hotel room in Reykjavik. Its a gift I tell you. Which brings me to the most delicious cheesecake I’ve ever eaten; a caramelised pecan cheesecake in central park in New York.
I’ve been to New York twice and both times I’ve headed to the Magnolia Bakery and eaten one of their insanely delicious cheesecakes. Now the Magnolia Bakery isn’t some small independent bakery, oh no. Its a behemoth of a bakery in the US. Its credited with helping the cupcake craze take off, and has been featured on Sex and the City. But through all that, their bakes are still so delicious. So I wanted to have a go at creating my own slice of heaven.
And ta dahh, the mini cheesecake of dreams was born!
Now I’ve created this recipe to make 6 mini cheesecakes; partly due to lockdown (I’m trying not to create huge bakes!) but also because I think this would be a great dinner party dessert. You can make these in the morning and pretty much forget about it until you’re ready to serve. The cheesecakes can be kept in the fridge overnight, but they’re best served at room temperature.
So how are they created?
I’ve kept the base supeerrr simple. Its just crushed digestives (or graham crackers for any American readers!) mixed with melted butter and baked for 5 minutes to set. Super easy, but works a treat. The actual cheesecake is again pretty simple as you just need to whisk everything together in a bowl until smooth and then pour over the bases. The baking is where cheesecake becomes a little more tricky.
Usually cheesecakes would be cooked in a water bath i.e. setting your baking tin into a large roasting tin which is half-filled with water. This means your cheesecake cooks slower and more even; helping you to avoid the dreaded cracked top of an over baked cheesecake. However, as we’re creating mini cheesecakes we’re not baking for as long and we can get away without using one. Which is great! As water baths can be a bit finicky.
So I’ve used a muffin pan to create my mini moulds, filled with cupcake cases. You could create them without the cupcake cases, but they will be really tricky to get out, so its not advisable! And to be honest, I think the cheesecakes look kinda cute with the ridges from the cupcake cases. Another option would be to bake and eat them directly from glass ramekins, though this would affect the baking time.
The cheesecakes should be baked within 15-17 minutes. I’d advise checking at 15 minutes, and popping them back in for the extra 2 minutes if they’re not quite done. Cheesecakes are ready when they have a slight jiggle – especially in the very centre. They will continue cooking outside of the oven, so be careful not to overbake them.
Onto the topping!
Finally we get to the glorious caramel pecan topping. This is my absolute go-to caramel sauce, its always delicious, but be warned! You must have all your ingredients weighed out and ready before you start. Once your caramel (sugar, water, golden syrup) has reached a golden amber colour you need to add in your cream straight away. It will bubble up A LOT. But just keep stirring, add in your butter and it will turn into a gloriously silky smooth caramel. Ahh caramel is just the best, right?? And also pecans. God I love pecans. I feel like they don’t get enough love in the UK!
So all in all, we have; a buttery biscuit base, smooth and creamy cheesecake and a luscious caramel studded with chopped pecans. Just DIVINE. It takes me right back to central park!
Let me know if you give these a try 🙂
Mini Caramelised Pecan Cheesecakes
- 75 g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 1 tbsp water
- 55 ml double cream
- 15 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 70 g digestive biscuits approx. 5 biscuits
- 30 g unsalted butter melted
- 90 g cream cheese room temperature
- 40 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 40 g caster sugar
- 1 medium egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 50 g pecan halves
- For the caramel: Place the sugar, golden syrup and water into a medium heavy-bottomed pan, mix together and place over a medium-high heat. Swirling the pan every now and then to stop it catching (try not to stir), keep cooking until you reach a golden amber colour. Then take of the heat and add in the double cream, stirring to combine – be careful, the mixture will bubble up at this point and be very hot! Then add in your butter and stir again to combine. Pour into a heat-proof bowl and leave to cool to room temperature.
- For the base: Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan and line a muffin tin with 6 cupcake cases. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor (or crush in a bag using a rolling pin) until fine crumbs, then add in the melted butter and blitz to combine. Divide the biscuit mixture evenly between the 6 cupcake cases and press down to compact into a base. Then bake for 5 minutes, set aside to cool slightly and turn the oven down to 180C/160C Fan.
- For the filling: Whisk the cream cheese and butter together in a medium bowl until smooth. Then add in the sugar and eggs, whisking again to combine. Then finally add the vanilla and combine. Pour evenly on top of each biscuit base (approx. 3 tbsp of mixture per base) and bake for 15-17 minutes. The cheesecake is baked when it has a slight jiggle, especially in the very centre. Leave to cool completely.
- To assemble: Roughly chop the pecan halves and stir them into the cooled caramel. Then divide evenly over the cheesecakes and spread evenly. Leave to set in the cupcake cakes for 5-10 minutes, then carefully remove and enjoy!