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Cheesecake with Nut Crust and Nutty Caramel Popcorn

 

Cheesecake with Nut Crust and Nutty Caramel Popcorn

Introduce your tastebuds to the most delicious cheesecake ever. This rich, creamy cheesecake has a nut crust, caramel popcorn topping, & caramel drizzle.

PIN IT for later.

 

Buttercream and I have been way too friendly with one another as of late so I have decided to purge the carbs from my system and stick with a strictly low carb diet over the next few months.

Unfortunately carbs and I really don’t see eye to eye as I suffer from hypoglycemia and carbs have a tendency to send my blood sugar into an acrobatic frenzy.  Over the years I have found that a low carb diet stabilizes it and makes me feel my most euphoric.  So with that, I will bid my beloved cakes and cookies adieu for the time being and slowly add them back into my diet as the occasional treat.

 

Cheesecake with Nut Crust and Nutty Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Nutty Caramel Popcorn Recipe

But not to worry, baking has become such a calming and creative outlet for me.   And while I may be very selective with what I am personally eating, my plan is to continue to forge forward with developing my baking skills;  therefore, I will continue to bring you a variety of sweet sensations all while I am noshing away on my meat doughnuts.

Of course, none of these sweet delights will go to waste.  I will be relying heavily on the Mr’s work mates as my taste testers (you never have to twist arms for willing volunteers) as well as any other brave volunteers.

Nutty Caramel Popcorn topping for Caramel Popcorn Cheesecake Recipe

Cheesecake with Nut Crust and Nutty Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Cheesecake with Nut Crust and Nutty Caramel Popcorn Recipe

So with that, I am bringing to you the most divine cheesecake that has ever walked the face of this planet.  This rich, creamy cheesecake has a nut crust and is crowned with a nutty caramel popcorn.  And if that weren’t heavenly enough, I capped it all off with a silky caramel drizzle.

This cheesecake pays homage to the many cheesecakes I consumed while living in Kenya.

Much of my time in Kenya I was following a low carb diet which was pretty easy to do because nyama choma (grilled meat) is a favorite amongst Nairobians and is widely available.  But eating meat day in and day out can be tiring, so cheesecake was a frequent indulgence as it is one of those desserts that is very easily transformed into a low carb delight.  Simply replace the graham cracker crust with a nut crust and substitute low calorie sweetener for the sugar and you are good to go.  The tricky part was getting your hands on ricotta and cream cheese as these were not frequently stocked in the shops.

Cheesecake with Nut Crust and Nutty Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Cheesecake with Nut Crust and Nutty Caramel Popcorn

It’s easy to take such luxuries for granted when you live in a developed country but when you are living in a developing country, everyday necessities such as sugar, gas, electric, and water may not be available.

So, when you can’t find a bag of sugar for months on end or you turn the tap on and you get nada, finding a store stocked with luxury items such as imported cream cheese illicits feelings equivalent to how Columbus must have felt when he discovered America.  And I have to be honest, when that shipment comes in, you frantically buy each and every last block you can get your grubby, little hands on and hoard it like there is no tomorrow.

Fortunately, there was a dairy farm not far from Nairobi that was expanding the range of cheese products that they offered with ricotta cheese being one such cheese.  So it was increasingly becoming easier to find.

Cheesecake with Nut Crust and Nutty Caramel Popcorn Recipe

This brings me to one of my most memorable Nairobi cheesecake making moments.  Zucchini’s, the small produce shop near my home in Gigiri, received a shipment of a well known brand of cream cheese.  I had been out of cream cheese for some time so I was pretty excited that cheesecake would soon be in my future.  I bought every last brick they had (as usual), as well as several tubs of ricotta cheese, and rushed home.

As I was scooping the snow white ricotta cheese out of the container into my mixing bowl I suddenly noticed a large bright yellow spot buried within the cheese.

“That doesn’t look like cheese?” I thought.

Cheesecake with Nut Crust and Nutty Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Upon closer examination, I realized that spot had legs and a hard shell.  It was a beetle!!  This was a freshly opened tub of ricotta so the beetle had obviously made its way into the cheese during the making process at the dairy farm.

Now most of you probably would have looked at that ricotta cheese with disgust and tossed it into the trash.  But this is Kenya and ricotta cheese is gold.  So, I shrugged, picked that beetle out of the cheese and continued to make my cherished cheesecake.

I know. . .I know. . .you are probably grossed out by this… and I wouldn’t expect anything different.  It’s funny when I think back about that incident because if I would have found a ginormous insect in my cheese in the U.S. I would have been appalled.  But in Africa, it was just another day in the life and frankly barely phased me.

So there you have it a nice carb-ilicious cheesecake.  I hope you enjoy this cheesecake as much as the Mr’s co-workers did.  Rest assured those big yellow-orange dots are not beetles but rather popcorn and nuts hugged with caramel goodness.

Here’s to not finding beetles in your cheese.

XOXO –

Lynn

Cheesecake with Nut Crust and Nutty Caramel Popcorn
 This rich, creamy cheesecake has a nut crust, caramel popcorn topping, & caramel drizzle.
BUILDING BLOCKS
For the NUTTY CARAMEL POPCORN TOPPING:
  • 1/2 cup (3 oz) un-popped popcorn
  • 1 cup unsalted almonds
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup unsalted macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
For the NUT CRUST:
  • 2 1/2 cups ground nuts (I used a blend of macadamia nuts, cashews, and almond)
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
For The CHEESECAKE:
  • 40 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
For the CARAMEL DRIZZLE:
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
THE COURSE
For the NUTTY CARAMEL POPCORN TOPPING:
  1. Switch the oven on to 250° F.

  2. Placed 1/2 cup of un-popped kernels into a brown paper bag & pop in the microwave (using the popcorn setting). Alternative, you can pop on the stove top. 

  3. Butter a large roasting pan.

  4. Mix together the popped corn & nuts in the buttered pan.

  5. Spread the nut & popcorn mixture out evenly. Place in the oven while you are making the caramel glaze.

  6. In a big saucepan, mix together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, orange zest & salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.

  7. Once the sugar has dissolved, let the mixture boil for 4 additional minutes. You will notice it thickening up.

  8. Remove the hot caramel glaze from the heat & stir in the vanilla & baking soda.

  9. Remove the popcorn & nuts from the oven & pour the hot caramel glaze over the top of them.  Stir to coat and return the pan to the oven.

  10.  Bake for about an hour or until the glaze is dry. Be sure to stir occasionally.

  11. Once you remove the popcorn from the oven, you will notice that some of it is stuck to the bottom of the pan. Use a spatula to free it. 

  12. Let the popcorn cool completely in the pan, then break it up into clumps. Place on top of the cheesecake.

For the NUT CRUST:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  2. Pulse nuts in a food processor until the have the consistency of a coarse meal.
  3. Combine the ground nuts & sugar.    

  4. Mix in the melted butter.
  5. Transfer the nut mixture to a 9 inch spring form pan & press it into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. 

  6. Bake for 10 minutes.  

  7. Remove from the oven and cool completely. 

  8. Fill with the cheesecake (recipe follows).
For The CHEESECAKE:
  1. Crank the oven up to 500° F.

  2. Place aluminum foil around the bottom of a spring form pan. This will keep the crust dry while baking in the water bath. 

  3. Prepare a water bath by filling a large baking pan, that will accommodate the springform pan, with water. The level should fall half way up the outside of the springform pan.


  4. Lightly butter the sides of the springform pan.


  5. Using a mixer beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, zests and vanilla on medium high in a big bowl on.

  6. Once smooth, start to add the eggs & egg yolks one at a time. Be sure to beat after each addition. . . but don't over beat. Over beating introduces air which can cause cracks.


  7. Fold in the cream.

  8. Pour the cheese filling over top the nut crust.

  9. Place the springform pan in the water bath.  Bake at 500°F for 20 minutes. If the top starts to bubble or crack, immediately lower the temperature to 200°F.

  10. Reduce the oven temperature to 200° F & bake until the cheesecake is set (about 40 - 60 minutes). You want the cheesecake to be slightly jiggly in the middle as it will firm up as it cools. It's done when the temperature reaches 150° F in the center. When you check the temperature of the cheesecake, be sure to do it outside of the oven. You knew that, right?

  11. Remove the cheesecake from the oven & loosen the sides it from the edge of the pan by running the tip of a knife between the top edge of the cake & the side of the pan.

  12. Transfer it to a wire rack and allow it to cool completely in the springform pan.

  13. Cover & refrigerate in the springform pan at least 8 hours or overnight.


  14. Remove the cake from the pan & top with popcorn & caramel drizzle (recipe follows).

For the CARAMEL DRIZZLE:
  1. Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, & butter in a small saucepan.

  2. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Be sure to stir constantly.
  3. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in whipping cream & heat to a boil.

  5. Remove from heat.  Allow to cool slightly, then drizzle over top of the popcorn & cheesecake.

Caramel Popcorn recipe is from Williams Sonoma.  

Cheesecake recipe adapted  from Saveur Magazine.

Cheesecake with Nut Crust & Nutty Caramel Popcorn - This rich & creamy cheesecake has a nut crust, caramel popcorn topping, & caramel drizzle. for the ultimate in decadence. Click for RECIPE.

 

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