Mascarpone Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Sauce
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
This creamy, sweet cheesecake is a wee bit lighter than a New York-style cheesecake and delicious for any occasion. Most of the preparation time is hands-off baking and refrigerating time. Since it may be prepared over several days and finished up to 3 days in advance, it’s handy for weekends or special dinners. If you don’t love salted caramel, use salted butter but omit the salt in the garnish.
1 (7-ounce) bag (approximately 2 cups) gluten-free shortbread cookies, Schar brand preferred
½ stick (¼ cup/57 grams/2 ounces/4 tablespoons) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ teaspoon salt, optional
2 cups (16 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 (8-ounce) containers of mascarpone cheese, softened
1½ cups (140 grams) confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
Juice of 1 small lemon
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup packed (140 grams) light brown sugar
¼ cup corn syrup or cane syrup
2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract plus 1 tablespoon corn syrup)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, optional
¾ cup salted butter, cultured preferred
3 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons warm water, as necessary
Sea salt for garnish (optional)
- Pulse the cookies in a food processor until ground and sandy, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the butter and salt (if using) and process until the mixture resembles moist sand, 1 to 1½ minutes. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Pour the crust mixture into the pan and press into the bottom and up the side of the pan. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day before proceeding.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the outside of the pan with 3 layers of foil pressed up against all sides to prevent leakage while baking.
To make the filling:
- Combine the cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar, vanilla paste, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, processing between additions, until each is incorporated before adding the next one.
- Pour the filling into the springform pan. Rap it once on the work surface to remove any air bubbles. Place the springform pan into a large baking pan that is at least 2 inches deep.
- Pull an oven rack partly out of the oven and place the baking pan on the rack. Gently pour 3 cups room temperature water into the baking pan; then carefully slide the rack into the oven.
- Bake until the cake is just set with the middle still a bit jiggly, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Crack open the oven door, turn off the oven, and let the cake sit for another 30 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the pan and place on a kitchen towel on the counter.
- Tent the cheesecake pan with foil, making sure the foil does not touch the cheesecake. Refrigerate while you make the caramel.
To make the caramel:
- Combine the brown sugar, corn or cane syrup, vanilla bean paste, and salt (if using) in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the temperature reaches 200°F on a candy thermometer, about 4 minutes. Add the butter and milk and stir once. Cook over low heat until the caramel reaches 210°F to 220°F, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat immediately. While it is heating up, sugar may crystallize on the sides. If so, dip a pastry brush into the water and rub the brush against the sides of the pan, letting the water drizzle down. You may or may not need to use all the water; it all depends on the humidity in the kitchen and in the air that day. Let stand for 6 minutes, undisturbed. (It will stop bubbling, but at first the temperature will rise to as much as 230°F before cooling down). When it reaches 190°F, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator.
- Remove the foil. Spray a flat, heatproof spatula or an offset spatula with nonstick vegetable oil spray, shaking off any excess. Quickly, scoop and spread the caramel over the cheesecake. Serve immediately for a syrupy quality, with the hot sauce as a wonderful contrast to the cold cheesecake. Alternatively, refrigerate the sauce before spreading, allowing 30 minutes for the caramel to stand at room temperature before serving. If you wish, to serve, sprinkle each slice with a few grains of the chunkiest sea salt you have.
Caramel is sticky and delicious. If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, get one! They are cheap and you can use it for frying and candy making.