Instead of using a round pan to cut the treats into wedges, this cheesecake is made in a big baking pan so we could get tidy squares out. To form the bottom crust, we crushed up a good amount of vanilla wafers and mixed the crumbles with chopped walnuts and enough melted butter to moisten. While turtle candies are usually made with pecans, I already had walnuts in the pantry and figured we might as well get them used up! To boost their presence, I did go ahead and toast them before tossing the nuts into the fury.
To mix in the caramel aspect, the recipe called for simply melting caramel cubes with a splash or two of milk to smooth them out. This is then poured over the base, which will create a cryptic layer of sweetness inside. As is, I think this would made one tasty bar cookie! However, this is a cheesecake after all, so I needed to get going on making the batter!
Nothing too unpredictable here - cream cheese, sugar, sour cream for tang and smoothness, along with a few eggs, a few dribbles from our bottle of vanilla and a lavish drizzle of melted bittersweet chocolate laced with espresso. I do have a few tips to make this batter smooth and dreamy - the cream cheese will beat up best if you let it soften at least a couple hours at room temperature before working with it. The eggs should also be taken out about 30 minutes before hand - if you forget, drop the whole eggs into a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes or so to take their chill off. You can beat the cream cheese and sugar well, but once you start adding the eggs, just mix them in until they have incorporated - you don't want to over-work it. The other reason you don't want to mix in together when the ingredients are chilled? When you add the melted chocolate in and if the batter is on the colder side, it may turn parts of the chocolate solid instead of staying fluid, which won't make for a smooth, cohesive chocolate batter!
After placing the batter over the top of the caramel, the whole shebang goes into the oven to bake until the edges are set, yet the center still has a bit of a jiggle to it. As it cools, the center will finish cooking through and even if it happens to be a touch underdone (better under than over), it needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, which will help firm it up. Good enough, yes? Not so fast! Before you dive in, the top is scattered with additional toasted walnuts and a drizzle of additional chocolate to finish this off. With a luxuriously creamy texture, I added just enough of that instant espresso powder to highlight the softer notes in the chocolate, yet not so much that it developed into a coffee cheesecake. If you did want that flavor to be more pronounced, I wonder if a couple capfuls of Kahlua would satisfy? The wafer crust, studded with walnuts, held together well and tasted divine, however I would have loved for it to be more substantial - I think I would make one and a half times the amount next time.
Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake