Whenever anyone in my family has a birthday, my mom lets us pick what kind of cake we want that day. Without a doubt, cheesecake is the No. 1 option for most everyone. My mom happens to have two kinds of cheesecake that she makes. Her cheesecake she makes completely from scratch is my favorite. She has had the recipe for years and mixed a variety of recipes to reach the one that she has today. The main influence was a 2005 Bon Appétit Magazine for a Toffee Crunch Caramel Cheesecake. It is simply divine.

As always, there are a few important things to mention. Now I must confess, I have never made this myself, but watching my mom make it recently I can see it not being too difficult. One of the first things to mention is the baking technique. It’s baked in a water-bath that helps regulate the temperature. It also helps keep the cheesecake from cracking from the heat of the oven. In the recipe, my mom utilizes foil to ensure that water doesn’t creep into the springform pan. However, many recipes take the chance and don’t use the foil at all.

Another important thing to mention is the caramel sauce. When you add the butter, proceed carefully. The butter will cause the sugar to bubble up and overflow if added too quickly. The same thing will happen once you add the cream. Therefore, make sure to give about 5-10 seconds before slowly adding the cream. The caramel sauce goes quite quickly so make sure to have everything ready to go and proper oven mitts to move the pan off the heat.

A small variation with the caramel is to add 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, depending on taste preferences. This can be added to the cream before you pour it into the sugar and butter. Another variation is to add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice to give a tangy taste to the caramel sauce. This should be added in the very beginning when melting the sugar. Make sure to add the juice with a couple tablespoons of water. You don’t have to make either toppings at all though if you’re short on time. In a pinch, it’s just as good with some fresh fruit.

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