Toffee Caramel Cheesecake


Cheesecakes have always been a curiosity to me. Though I was told that cheesecakes came from France, I never actually ate one there and I never saw one even in the most decadent patisserie or pastry store. In France, however, there are cakes much similar to cheesecakes called Bavarois.  Unlike cheesecake, however, Bavarois are made with heavy cream, sour cream and gelatin and it is never baked. Much like cheesecake, though, they come in many flavors though most of the time they are flavored with fruit puree.

I cannot remember the first time that I ate a cheesescake, but from the minute I ate one, I have loved their texture, and the way they melt away in your mouth…

I just remember that  i have wanted to learn to make them. And for the past 20 years i have tried repeatly to make them. Sometimes successfully, but most of the time unsuccessfully. They may taste great sometimes , but look awful or look okay and only taste average. You may wonder why I have kept trying but I like challenges!!! No, not really, I will not accept failure and will try and try again until I reach my goal;-)

Well, since nowadays i am lactose intolerant and my family is not much of a cheesecake fan, I don’t get to make them that often. In fact, it seems that they only time I venture to make them is when we have a large family reunion. This past Thanksgiving, i was in charge of desserts and since one of the guests was bringing a chocolate ginger cake, a silk pie and a pumpking pie, i was left with bringing something with fruit and something else. I really wanted to bring something that would be in tune with the warm flavor and color  of Thanksgiving, something with warm flavors of fall. How about caramel??

After searching through various recipes book and sites, I finally settled for a recipe found on Epicurious called Toffe Crunch that I altered a bit.

Ingredients for a cheesecake for 10-12 persons:

For the crust:


  • 1 package of the Belgium Ginger Snap cookies called Biscoff Cor about 7 1/4 ounces)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar


  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. (1/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Caramel topping

  • 1  cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

For Decoration:

  • 10 heath candy broken in pieces.

First you will want to prepare the crust for the cheesecake. In a chopper, place the cookies, the soft butter and the sugar and pulse a few times to make a “powdery” mix. Empty this mixture into the bottom of the large round mold, and with your fingers press the cookie mixture flat. Cook in a warm oven for 10 minutes. Set aside.


While the crust is cooking, prepare the cheesecake. In a large bowl of a kitchen mixer, beat the sugar and the butter until it becomes creamy. Then add the cream cheese and beat well until the mixture is smooth. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each egg. Add 1 tbsp of vanilla extract and mix well. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the large mold on top the crust. Shake the mold a bit from side to side to even out the the cheesecake.


Place a grande mold on top a medium perforated and place the large round mold inside the grande mold. PLace the two into the oven. With a pouring cup, pour water into the grande mold to almost the top. This will be the water bath for the cheesecake. Cook the cheesecake for 40 minutes at 350. When the cheesecake has baked, let it rest for several hours ( 2 hours minimum and or overnight).

photoMy cheesecake did not crack! and it did not sink in the middle. It was perfect. I never ever made a cheesecake that was that perfect  before;-) I was so happy;-)
For caramel topping:
Put 1 cup of sugar into a large saucepan and cook the sugar over medium heat or until the sugar is dissolving. When the sugar is “becoming caramel” and is starting to bubble on the sides, start stirring the sugar to even out the caramel. Cook a little longer until all the sugar has become a light amber caramel. Be careful not to over cook. It will turn black in a minute if you do not watch. Remove the pan from the stove and let it cool for a minute or two. Meanwhile warm up the cream in the microwave for 2 minutes. Carefully pour the hot cream into the caramel while stirring virgorously. Be careful! It will bubble. Place the saucepan back onto the stove on medium temperature and continue stirring until the sugar has completly melted into the cream.

When the cheesecake has cooled, press the sides of the round mold down, and slide a plate under the cheesecake to remove the cake from the round mold. Then pour the caramel onto the cheesecake, and decorate the cake by sprinkling toffee crumble all around the cake top as shown below. Place back into the fridge to cool, and to let the caramel set.


Make sure to let the cake come to ambiant temperature before cutting and eating;-)


Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Yummy Tarte Tatin

Nature is quite amazing! You could have thought that Nature had turned on a switch to lower the temperature as it was cool and breezy on Sunday. Hanging out or even working outside was very pleasant. I really enjoyed my Sunday. I worked in my yard, cleaned up my flower bed and did a nice long jogging. With this fall temperature and the change of colors around, it made me feel like eating something with apple or pumpkin. I had lots of apples as well a puff pastry dough left-over from a cooking class so I decided to make a tarte tatin.

I had never made a tarte tatin before as my favorite cakes are made of chocolate, and my family is not fond of fruit desserts, but some days you have specific cravings, and Sunday was a Tarte Tatin.

Did you know that “the Tarte Tatin was first created by accident at the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France, about 100 miles (160 km) South of Paris, in the 1880s . The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin . There are conflicting stories concerning the tart’s origin, but the most common is that Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. In an alternative version of the tart’s origin, Stéphanie baked a caramelized apple tart upside-down by mistake. Regardless she served her guests the unusual dish hot from the oven and a classic was born. However, regardless of the veracity of this story, the concept of the “upside down tarts” was not a new one.” Wikipedia

The Tarte became a signature dish of the Hotel Tatin. Historians and gourmets have argued whether it is a genuine creation of the Demoiselles (sisters) Tatin, or the branding of an improved version of the “tarte solognotte”, a traditional dish named after the Sologne region which surrounds Lamotte-Beuvron. Research suggests that, while the tarte became a specialty of the Hotel Tatin, the sisters did not set out to create a “signature dish”. They never wrote a cookbook or published their recipe. They never even called it Tarte Tatin. That recognition was bestowed upon them by Curnonsky, the famous French author and epicure, as well as the Parisian restaurant Maxim’s after the sisters’ deaths. One of the legends has it that Louis Vaudable, the owner of Maxim’s, once tasted it and was smitten. As he described it: “I used to hunt around Lamotte-Beuvron in my youth, and had discovered in a very small hotel run by elderly ladies a marvelous dessert listed on the menu under tarte solognote. I questioned the kitchen staff about its recipe, but was sternly rebuffed. Undaunted, I got myself hired as a gardener. Three days later, I was fired when it became clear that I could hardly plant a cabbage. But this was long enough to pierce the secrets of the kitchen. I brought the recipe back, and put it on my own menu under “Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin”. Unfortunately, Mr. Vaudable was born in 1902, and the sisters retired in 1906. They died in 1911 and 1917, while Maxim’s was purchased by the Vaudable family in 1932. Wikepedia

Originally, the Tarte Tatin was made with two regional apple varieties: Reine des Reinettes (King of the Pippins), and Calville. Over the years, other varieties have tended to displace them, including Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Gala. When choosing apples for a Tarte Tatin, it is important to pick some that will hold their shape while cooking, and not melt into apple sauce. In North America, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, or Jonathan are excellent choices.” Wikipedia.

Tarte Tatin can also be made with pears, peaches, pineapple, tomatoes, other fruit, or vegetables, such as onion.

Ingredients for one 9-10 inch pie:

  • 4-6 apples, peeled, cored and cut in quarters
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 Phylo pastry dough ( 1 out of a pack)
  • vanilla or caramel ice-cream (optional)

In a Deutsch oven, melt the butter and the sugar until both make a light golden caramel.

Place the apples in the pan, face down starting from the outside of the pan, making your way around and into the circle. See below.

Cook the apples for 15-20 minutes at low-medium temperature or until the apples are becoming soft, and the caramel is bubbling through the apples. Turn the oven to 400. And prepare the phyllo dough. PLace the dough on the roulpat, and with a plastic knife cut a circle that will fit perfectly the top of pan.

Place the pan into the stove and cook for 20 minutes.

Let the tart cool off a bit. Then place a nice plate above the pan, and with kitchen mittens ( while careful not to burn yourself), flip the pan upside down so that the tart will fall perfectly onto the plate. Et voila!

The Tarte Tatin is best eaten warm, so let it cool off a bit before eating it but still eat it warm. I love it with caramel or vanilla ice cream. So yummy!!! It is really so easy to make. You need to try!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Poached Pear Tart with Maple Pastry Cream

Where does time go???? You must be wondering why I am not posting as many recipes theses days, but time seem to be fading away faster these days than they ever were or is it me just getting more busy? I am still cooking and making up recipes but I have to choose between sleeping or writing in my blog and I have been choosing to sleep. You will understand;-)

My son turned 15 at the beginning of the month. 15 already;-( Well this young man looks nothing like he used to at his birth at a low weight of 1lb. and 4oz. ( he was born at 24 weeks). Today he is almost 6 feet and weigh 180 lbs.

His birthday fell on a weekday so we had a party for it the following Sunday with all the uncles, aunts and cousins. He wanted to have an ice-cream cake so I  went to the closest ice-cream parlour and bought him a cake.

Of course I was not going to serve a bought  ice-cream cake to my guests. I am a much better host than that. Instead I decided to make a pear tart with a maple custard cream.

This recipe is for a  9 inch pie or for about 6 3 1/16 individual pies.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 sticks of butter at room temperature,
  • 2 1/2 cup of sugar,
  • 2 cups of flour,
  • 1 tsp of salt. 
  • 1 cup of whole milk,
  • 3 large egg yolks,
  • 2 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch,
  • 1/2 cup of whipped cream homemade,
  • 2-4 tbsp of maple syrup.
  • 2/3 pears or 1 can of canned pear halves.

Ingredients for the pate sablee ( or shortbread pie dough): 2 sticks of butter at room temperature, 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp of salt. 

In a mixer beat the butter and the sugar until it fluffs up and becomes a pale yellow. Reduce the speed and slowly add the flour and the salt. Mix until the dough becomes crumbly. Do not overmix. With your hands, shape a ball then cover the ball with some plastic wrap and let it cool in the fridge for 30 minutes and up to 2 days. Turn the oven to 375. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, place the dough on the large roul’pat, and with a rolling pin, roll a 11 inch circle if you want to make a large pie or cut small circles using the dough cutter of of 3 1/16. Place the dough into the large round mold or in the opening of the medium tartlet tray. Perforate the dough with a fork. Place a parchment paper over the dough. Fill the parchment paper/ pie with some dry white bean and cook the dough at 375 for 15 minutes. When it is cooked, remove it from the oven, and let it cool. When it is cooled, remove the beans and the parchment paper and set aside for later use.

While the pie is cooling prepare the maple pastry cream.

Ingredients for the maple pastry cream: 1 cup of whole milk, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, 3 large egg yolks, 2 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch, 1/2 cup of whipped cream, 2-4 tbsp of maple syrup.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and cook the milk until it is almost boiling. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is becoming lighter in color and is becoming fluffer. Add the cornstarch and mix well. Pour the milk slowly into the egg mixture while stirring. Place the mixture back onto the stove and cook at a medium temperature until it is becoming really really thick. Remove it from the stove.Place the mixture into a bowl and into the fridge to cool.

Poached Pear:  2 to 3 pears, 1/2 cup of sugar. 

Peel the pears and slice them thinly. Place the pears on the flexipat. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sugar over the pears. Cover the pears with a medium silpat and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the pears are poached and tender. Let them cool.

If you do not have time, you may use canned pears. They are a great substitute.

When the pastry cream is cooled. Slowly add the whipped cream to the pastry cream. Also flavor the cream with the maple syrup. You may use 2-4 tbsp of maple syrup.

To prepare the pies. Place the cream into a plastic bag and pipe the cream into the pies. Lay the pears slices over the cream superposing them. For the small tartlets you will only be able to place 3 to 4 slices. For the big pie you will place the pear slices going around the pie crust.

For added decoration I drizzled some fresh caramel over the pear tart. Making caramel is quite easy. You place 1 cup of sugar into a small saucepan and you place the saucepan onto the stove at medium high temperature. Do not mix, just be patient. The sugar will start dissolving and will start to get an amber color on the outer rim. At that point start stirring until the caramel is a light golden color. With a spoon, drizzle the caramel over the pies et voila!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

Praline, Pecan and Vanilla Cupcakes

As a board member of the The Little Theatre of Spartanburg, I tried to help whenever I can. Since the SLT hosted a reception to thank the sponsors of the Little Theatre, I offered to help. It was an hour reception before the Show Honky Tonk.  After listening to all the different fares that would be offered that evening, I decided to bring in cupcakes. Easy…But I wanted the cupcakes to reflect the theme of the party so I looked up the word Honky Tonk. The word Honky Tonk is defined in Wikipedia as ” rough establishments, mostly in the Deep South and Southwest, that served alcoholic beverages to a working class clientele. Honky tonks sometimes also offered dancing to piano players or small bands, and were sometimes also centers of prostitution.”

So I started thinking of Southern desserts and thought of divinities, pecan pies and thought of making a Praline, Pecan and Vanilla Cupcakes.

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes or 24 small cupcakes or 30 mini cupcakes: 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 tsp of baking powder, 3/4 cup of sugar, 6 tbsp of butter at room temperature, 2 large eggs, 1 tbsp of vanilla extract.

Turn the oven to 350. In a bowl, mix together the flour and the baking powder and set aside. In another bowl, beat the butter and the sugar  until the butter is becoming very fluffy. Add one egg at a time in the butter mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla extract also and beat well. Add the flour into 3 additions beating on low-speed. Beat just enough until no traces of flour remain. Do not overbeat!!!

Place the dough in a plastic bag, cut one end and fill the cupcakes. Cook in the oven for 15-18 minutes for the big cupcakes, 13 for the small and 10 minutes for mini cupcakes.

For the frosting you need to make a vanilla cream cheese frosting, and a caramel.

Cream cheese frosting: 8 oz of cream cheese, 6 tbsp of butter at room temperature, 1 tbsp  of vanilla extract, 3/4 cup of sugar.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, place the cream cheese, the butter, the vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add the sugar a little at a time and mix until it is well combined. Set aside.

Pralines and caramel: 1 1/2 cup of pecans, 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar, 4 tbsp of heavy cream.

Turn the oven to 375, place the pecans on a silpat and cook for 10 minutes until they are toasted and are becoming a dark golden brown. Keep 1/2 cup for decoration, and break the other cup of pecans in small pieces.

In a small saucepan, place the cream and the brown sugar, and cook until it is bubbling and the sugar dissolves. Add 1 cup of pecans pieces into the caramel and stir to coat them with the caramel.

Empty the  caramel into the small round flexiform and place it in the fridge for the caramel to cool. When the caramel is cold, empty it into the cream cheese frosting. With a spatula, fold the caramel into the frosting slowly but do not combine! You should see streaks of white and brown. Using a spoon, scoop the frosting onto the cupcakes and place 1 pecan half on each cupcake.  Fini!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!

White Chocolate and Pumpkin Cheesecake

I love Pumpkin soup, but can’t seem to acquire a good appreciation of the Pumpkin pie. I don’t know what makes it unsavoury to me, maybe it is the combination of pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon… I am not sure. Since I was in charge of the desserts and  did not want to brush aside the traditions, I still wanted to offer a Pumpkin dessert. I had already made Pecan pies and A Cranberry and Pear Torte, so I wanted to go another route and settled for a recipe that I found in Holidays Baking of the Fine Cooking Magazine in store right now. Everything tastes better with chocolate so I added some to the recipe along with some other minor changes. Here it is:

Ingredients for 12 mini cheesecakes ( muffin size): 2 packages of cream cheese at room temperature, 20o gr. of melted white chocolate, 2/3 cup of sugar, 2 tbsp of vanilla extract, 2 large eggs, 1/3 cup of canned pupkin, 2 1/4 tsp of all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of ginger, 1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg.

Materials; silpat, perforated sheet, scalloped muffin tray.

In a the bowl of an electric mixer, place the cream cheese and beat it on medium high until it becomes smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and the vanilla and beat again until it is well mixed. Add the melted chocolate and beat at medium low until it is well incorporated and there are no lumps. Then add the eggs, one at a time and best them a bit  just enough to mix them in. (Do not overbeat, or the cheesecake will fluff up and crack). Place the scalloped cupcake tray on a perforated sheet and spoon about 2 tbsp of this batter in each cupcake. You shoud have 1/3 of the batter left. Add the pumpkin, the nutmeg, cinnamon, flour and ginger and stir well. Spoon about 1 tbsp of this batter in each cupcake tray on top of the vanilla/ chocolate batter. With the back of a spoon, dig down into the batter and make swirls. Bake in a warm oven for 15 minutes at a temperature of 300. When they are cooked ( the center of the cupacake should barely juggle), remove the cupcake tray from the oven and let the cheesecakes cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours up to 3 days. Before serving, make the caramel, and drizzle it on top of the cheesecake.

Caramel: 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp of fresh lemon juice.

In a small saucepan, place the sugar and the lemon juice and cook over medium-high until the sugar is melting and is becoming a golden color. Stir gently to prevent the sugar from burning in isolated spots. You want to cook the caramel until it becomes a light caramel color ( amber). Remove it from the stove and with a spoon, drizzle the caramel over the cupcakes and drizzle the rest of the caramel over a silpat making circles that you will use as decorations.

To serve, drizzle some caramel on each plate, place a cheesecake on top of the caramel, place a dollop of whipped cream and place a caramel decoration on the cheesecake. Et voila!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!