I was looking for a crust less cheesecake to serve over Passover and stumbled over this recipe from Wolfgang Puck for a caramel flan cheesecake. Caramel and cheesecake together sounded good to me. I tried it and fell in love with it. I realized cheesecake does not need a crust at all and I can serve this anytime. This cheesecake was so light and smooth. The cheesecake truly tasted exactly like caramel flan. It was fantastic and quite addictive.
Usually I have great will power. I will try something and be done but such was not the case with this caramel flan cheesecake. I could not stop eating it. I dreamed of it waiting to have my next piece of cheesecake. I could not top myself. Slowly but surely I did some serious damage to finishing the cheesecake, all by myself!
The cheesecake was very easy to make. Unfortunately, I did not have a 9 inch cake pan as called for in the recipe. I had a bigger cake pan but did not want to use it since I felt it might make a difference in the way the cheesecake baked. The only pan I had was a 9 inch springform pan. I had no choice but to use it. I wrapped the springform pan in foil to hold the pan and hoped nothing would leak out of the bottom. When I removed the foil, there was some caramel in it and I saved it in a container and put it back on top of the cheesecake when I removed it from the pan to place on the platter. I must make a note to myself to buy a 9 inch cake pan soon and try the recipe in the proper cake pan.
Regardless what pan I used the results exceeded my expectations. I can’t wait to make it again. But I will have to learn to savor it and leave some for others to enjoy!
Caramel Flan Cheesecake from Spago
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 pounds cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- First, prepare the Caramel: In a heavy metal saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice. Cook over high heat until the mixture turns a deep caramel color. Immediately pour it into a 9-inch cake pan and rotate the pan to coat the bottom and sides completely with the caramel. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and bring a kettle of hot water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Cheesecake Base: Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until the cream cheese is smooth. Stop the machine. With a small, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. With the knife tip, scrape the tiny vanilla seeds from inside each half into the mixer bowl. Add the sugar and orange zest. Continue mixing at low speed until smoothly blended, 2 minutes more. One at a time, add the eggs, beating until each is fully blended in and stopping to scrape down the side of the bowl after each egg. Still beating at low speed, slowly pour in the cream until fully incorporated, stopping every 30 seconds or so to scrape down the bowl. Pour the mixture into the prepared caramel-coated pan.
- Place the filled cake pan inside a larger baking or roasting pan. Open the preheated oven, pull out a shelf, and place the pan on the shelf. Carefully pour boiling water into the larger pan to come halfway up the side of the cake pan. Then, carefully slide the shelf into the oven and close the oven door. Bake the cheesecake until it is slightly firm to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted into its center comes out clean, about 1 hour, adding a little more boiling water to the surrounding pan if necessary.
- Carefully remove the pan from the oven and take the cake pan out of the larger pan. Leave it on a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely, at least 4 hours.
- To unmold the cheesecake, invert a 12-inch serving plate on top of it. Then, securely hold the pan and plate together with both hands and flip them over. Wait a few seconds, and then carefully lift off the cake pan. Cut into wedges.