Carrot Cake Cheesecake
My husband’s birthday is on the Ides of March, or March 15th for those of you who never had to read Julius Caesar in high school. Every year I make him a birthday cake. This year I decided to combine two of our favorite cakes into one amazing decadent dessert- a carrot cake cheesecake. It has a gingersnap cookie crust, carrot and ginger filling, a sweetened sour cream layer, and topped off with a decadent salted caramel studded with golden raisins, toasted walnuts, and pineapple. I’m not gonna lie, this recipe has a lot of components, but I guarantee it is well worth the time and effort. And it tastes just like carrot cake! And cheesecake! Seriously, treat yo self! or someone you love to this amazing dessert.
Carrot Cake Cheesecake
2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 2” pieces
1 1/2 C ground gingersnap cookies
1/4 C + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 C light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp garam masala (pumpkin pie spice will also work if you can’t find garam masala)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened
3 eggs, room temperature
16 oz sour cream
1/3 C golden raisins
1/3 C raw walnuts, chopped
1 1/4 C caramel sauce (this one by Bon Appetit is my favorite)
2/3 C pineapple, chopped
Steam carrots until a knife goes through them without any resistance, approximately 20 minutes. Set aside and let cool. While the carrots are cooling, make the crust.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover the outside bottom of a 9” spring form pan with tinfoil. I tend to use A LOT of foil and butchers twine to hold the foil in place. (*Note: This cheesecake cooks in a water bath, so you really want to make a nice seal to prevent water from getting in.) In a small bowl, combine ground gingersnap cookies, 1 Tbsp of granulated sugar, and butter. Stir until the crumbs are moistened, but not mushy. Press into an even layer in the bottom of the pan and bake for 10-15 until the crust is set. Let cool completely.
Next make the filling. In a food processor, puree the carrots until completely smooth. It should look like something you’d feed to a baby. Add ginger, garam masala, cinnamon, 1 tsp of vanilla, and brown sugar. Pulse to combine. Add cream cheese and puree until smooth. Next, add eggs, one at a time, and pulse just to combine. You don’t want to over mix.
Pour filling over crust, smoothing out the top with a spatula. I also like to bang the pan on a counter or table a few times to bring any air bubbles to the surface. Place spring form pan in a large baking dish. Fill pan halfway up the sides of the spring form pan with hot water. Carefully place the baking dish in the oven on a rack in the lowest position. Bake for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
While the cheesecake is baking make the sour cream topping. In a medium sized bowl, combine sour cream, 1/2 tsp of vanilla, and 1/4 C of granulated sugar. After the cheesecake has baked for an hour, spread the sour cream mixture on top. Carefully transfer the baking dish back to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes to set the sour cream.
Once the cheesecake has finished cooking, remove from water bath, and take off the foil. Place spring form pan on a wire cooling rack. Run a small knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cheesecake from the sides. This will also help prevent the topping from cracking as it cools. Let cool completely on wire rack, and then cover with foil and put in fridge overnight to set.
Make the caramel sauce. Soak raisins in 2 cups of boiling water for 30 minutes to re-hydrate, and drain when plump. Roast chopped walnuts in a 325 degree oven for 15 minutes. Add caramel sauce to a small sauce pan. (*Note: I prefer to make my own caramel sauce, and love this recipe by Bon Appetit. It’s salty, just teetering on the edge of burnt, and is practically foolproof. If making caramel sauce scares you, feel free to use your favorite store bought brand.) Add raisins, pineapple, and walnuts, to caramel sauce, and warm over medium heat until bubbling. Season to taste with salt. I used an additional 1/4 teaspoon with the Bon Appetit caramel sauce.
Top each slice of cheesecake with a spoonful or two of the caramel sauce.