Recipe: Vanilla bean, salted caramel & macadamia cheesecake

IMG_3215Wow. That’s a long name for a cake…

Maybe the ‘I named it after everything that’s in it belated 20th birthday cake’ is better?

No? I’ll think again… but in the meantime, let’s get on with the recipe!

I won’t lie – this cake sounds complicated. but the caramel is by far the hardest part – if you can master that, the rest is easy.

The only thing I’ll warn you about before you rush out to the supermarket to grab the ingredients for this is that it can be quite messy to serve if the caramel isn’t quite thick enough, or the walls aren’t quite strong enough – as you can see I’ve had a small avalanche happen here.  It didn’t bother me, but if you’re going to be serving it over your best tablecloth, or at a friend’s house, maybe make it as mini cheesecakes for some peace of mind.  You can use the exact same recipe and make it in ramekins or something similar that you can leave the cakes in to serve.

So, here we go…

Vanilla bean, salted caramel & macadamia cheesecake
The floor & the walls (approximate measurements - if your crust 
isn't thick enough to go high up the sides of your tin, make more):
350g plain sweet biscuits (I used Arnott's Granita because they're not too sweet)
150g butter
Pinch salt
100g macadamias (unroasted, unsalted)
The cheesecake:
3 tsp gelatine
1 1/2 tbsp boiling water
500g cream cheese
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
300ml cream
The salted caramel:
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
1 cup cream
50g butter
1 tsp salt
Reserved macadamias, to decorate

(note that it's most convenient to make the caramel and base before the cake, as these both need to cool before you can use them!)

1. Lightly grease a 23cm springform pan
2. Roast your macadamias.  This is really easy - just place them on a tray and pop under the grill for a few minutes until they look 
 like this: (make sure to watch them - they burn fast!)
Choose any nice-looking macadamias and reserve them for decoration - the rest will be used in the crust.

The floor and the walls:
1. Melt butter.
2. Crush biscuits and the not-so-pretty macadamias (I used a food 
processor, but you can do it by hand if you like). Mix in salt.
3. Add butter to biscuit mixture. If it's not the right texture or you haven't made enough for your tin, add more butter/biscuits 
until it's just right.
4. Press biscuit mixture into tin. It needs to go a long way up the sides as it has to hold the caramel on top of the cake to stop it going everywhere!
5. Pop the base in the fridge to set.

The cheesecake:
1. Dissolve gelatine in boiling water, set aside to cool.
2. Soften cream cheese and beat with sugar and vanilla in an 
electric mixer until it's smooth and creamy:
3. Whip cream and fold into cheese mixture.

The salted caramel:
1. Heat sugar and water over medium heat, stirring (you don't want burnt sugar, it's the worst).
2. Eventually all the water will evaporate and you'll end up with 
big crystals of sugar and you think you've failed and it looks 
something like this but a bit crunchier:
3. Do not give up - have patience, keep stirring and eventually it will melt into a beautiful golden caramel. Remove from heat.
4. At this point, go ahead and add the cream and butter, stirring 
to mix. If your caramel gets too cool to melt the butter or forms 
lumps, just pop it back on the stove and stir until smooth.  
5. Add salt and cool caramel until you're ready to use it.

See? It wasn't really that hard!

Assembling the cake:
1. Pour a little of the caramel into the cooled crust to cover the base:
2. Spread cheesecake mixture over the top and place in the fridge 
to set:
3. When the cake is set, spread the reserved caramel over the top, and put back in the fridge until almost ready to serve.

4. Just prior to serving, decorate with the reserved macadamias, remove from the tin and place on a serving platter.