Anytime there is a reason to celebrate, Mom and I make cheesecake. This has happened approximately... three times. Ok, so it's a new celebration tradition, but it's one we love! Most recently, we decided to make a cheesecake for Rodney to celebrate his recent acceptance into the Raleigh Police Academy. He wasn't there when we made it, but we managed to only eat one slice each (as dinner!) before he got home. Here's to you, babe!
Philadelphia Classic Cheesecake
with caramel & bit o' brickle topping
(from Kraft a long time ago, not sure if it's still there)
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. sugar
1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix crumbs (I find one "package" within the box of graham crackers makes the right amount of crumbs), 3 tbsp. sugar, and butter. Press firmly onto bottom of 9 inch springform pan (I like to press it slightly of the sides if there is enough). Beat cream cheese, 1 c. sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition, just until blended. Pour over crust. Bake 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Loosen cake from sides of pan. Cool before removing side of pan. Refrigerate four hours or overnight.
For topping: melt 1 c. sugar in 1/4 c. water. The water helps the sugar melt without burning for scaredy-cats like Mom and me. Keep an eye on this so it doesn't burn, but don't stir too often, as it will keep the sugar from caramelizing. Just let it go on medium heat until the sugar browns, but once it does, remove it from the heat. We screwed up but ending the process here and creating caramel hard candy -- tasy, but not what we want for the top of a cheesecake! We woudl recommend adding a tbsp. or two of butter to keep it creamy. If I try this again, I will let you know. Before caramel hardens, add toffee pieces for extra crunch (provided you don't get all the crunch you need from the caramel!).
P.S. I would highly recommend NOT consuming a bottle of wine before completing this process. Unless you want to have a super fun night with only slightly shaky cheesecake results!