Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake | Layers of traditional, chocolate, and caramel cheesecake on an Oreo cookie crust and topped with drizzled caramel, chocolate chips, and chopped pecans.
If you can believe it, I’ve never actually made a cheesecake before. Like, ever. I don’t know why exactly. Probably because I’m not a huge cheesecake person to begin with. Don’t get me wrong; I won’t turn a piece down. But given the choice between cheesecake and pretty much any other dessert, I’m probably going to eat the other dessert.
But last Friday was my coworker’s last day (she’s leaving me to go work at another clinic), and Chris requested that I make cheesecake. But not just cheesecake; she wanted TURTLE cheesecake. And who was I to tell her no?
So I set about learning how to make cheesecake. And honestly, it wasn’t as daunting as I had feared it would be.
First, I did what most people do… I scoured Pinterest for a recipe. I must have looked at a million turtle cheesecake recipes, but none of them were quite what I had in mind. So I ended up making up my own recipe out of a hodgepodge of other recipe ideas. I took the Oreo cookie crust idea from one recipe. The idea of swirling in different flavors of cheesecake from another. The caramel drizzle, chocolate chip, and chopped pecan topping from yet another. And in the end, I kind of made things up as I went.
I actually ended up making two cheesecakes because I wanted to do a test run before I brought a dish that I’d never made before into work with me. Peter could not have been any happier about that since he’s been hounding me to make him cheesecake basically since we met and he found out I love to bake.
I’m really glad I trialed out the recipe first, since a layered cheesecake like this one can get a little tricky to make. Plus, like I said, I was kinda making things up as I went along.
Some important points to remember when making cheesecake: 1) Make sure your cream cheese is softened, or it won’t cream properly and you’ll end up with lumpy batter. 2) Don’t overmix the ingredients, or the batter will get too warm and you’ll incorporate in too much air, which will result in a big crack down the middle of the cheesecake (which is what happened to mine since I totally wasn’t paying attention to how fast I had my mixer going) and 3) Use a springform pan, or you’ll have a hell of a time getting that cheesecake out of the pan!
Overall, I’m really happy with how my second run turned out. The cookie crust was the perfect amount of crunchy (and really, who doesn’t love Oreos?!). The chocolate, caramel and traditional cheesecake swirled together so that you got all of the flavors with each bite made it all taste absolutely delectable.
If I liked nuts more, I probably would have mixed some into the cheesecake as well, but since I hate nuts in my desserts, I sprinkled them only on top so that they could be easily picked off. But if you’re a fan of nuts, go ahead and mix some more in!
Everyone at work kept commenting how delicious this cheesecake was, and it was completely gone before I knew it. I think it was just the kind of send-off that Chris was hoping for!
Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake
Servings: 1 cheesecake (8-10 slices)
For the crust:
- 18 Oreo cookies
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
For the filling:
- 3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- 25 caramels, unwrapped (I used the individually wrapped ones made by Kraft)
- 1 tbsp butter
For the topping:
- 15 caramels, unwrapped
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp chopped pecans
- Place Oreos in a large resealable bag. Seal bag and crush cookies until fine using a rolling pin or meat hammer. Combine Oreo crumbs and melted butter in a bowl, then pour into a greased 9-inch springform pan. Press crumbs into bottom of the pan, making the crust. Place pan in the refrigerator to chill.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a large bowl and a hand mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Beat in sweetened condensed milk until creamy. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in sugar, then eggs, one at a time. Mix in vanilla and lemon juice. Set batter aside.
- In a small, microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or so. Stir in 1 cup of the cheesecake batter and set aside.
- In a different small, microwave safe bowl, melt caramels and butter, stirring every 30 seconds or so. Stir in another 1 cup of cheesecake batter and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 325. Remove crust from the refrigerator and pour 1/3 of the remaining batter into the pan. Pour in caramel-mixed batter. Pour in another 1/3 of the white cheesecake batter. Pour in the chocolate-mixed batter. Top with the remaining 1/3 of the white cheesecake batter. Gently swirl batter with a butter knife.
- Place springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden brown. The edges should appear set and the middle should still move slightly. Remove pan to cool completely on a cooling rack. Once cheesecake has cooled, store in the refrigerator until ready to serve (at least 6 hours).
- Carefully run a butter knife around the outer edge of the pan and carefully remove outer ring.
- To make topping, melt caramels, butter, and milk in a small, microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds or so. Drizzle over top of the cheesecake. Sprinkle chocolate chips and chopped nuts over the caramel and gently press into the caramel. Refrigerate an additional hour or so until caramel has hardened slightly.
Inspired by: Gourmet Mom On-The-Go