The blending of chocolate, caramel, and nuts is a classic and one of my favorite combinations. If you press nuts into softened caramel and cover it all with melted chocolate, you have Turtle Candies! Turtles have always been the one candy I cannot say No to and I always look for new ways to combine these three ingredients.
One of the easiest ways to create a new dessert is to combine components from other recipes. You might be surprised what you come up with. I pulled recipes from three different sources to make up today’s Chocolate Monday treat. I took a recipe for a brownie cheesecake bar and added hot fudge sauce, caramel sauce, and nuts to make a new kind of Turtle. Whenever you make a recipe, think about other ways that you might be able to use parts of it to improve common meals.
One of the advocates of this philosophy is Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City. In “Alfred Portale’s Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook” he tells you how to use various recipe components with other recipes in the book. It is one of the few cookbooks I’ve seen that actively does this and it is enlightening. As you read through the book, dozens of new combinations come to your mind at Chef Portale’s suggestion. It is a great insight into the way a professional chef thinks about food.
I highly recommend all of Chef Portale’s books and know you will enjoy having them in your library!
Gotham Bar and Grill is a New York City institution and has been serving diners for over 25 years. One of the most awarded restaurants in the City, Gotham is constantly reinventing its menu, decor, and wine list while maintaining some customer favorites. Product seasonality as well as a desire to keep things fresh and unexpected are keys to the success of Chef Portale’s innovative restaurant. Try the same thing at your own home. Instead of making the same meals over and over, change your menus for every season, adding new and fresh ingredients. Pick up a cookbook and select several new recipes to try. This will help keep your kitchen just as fresh as Gotham Bar and Grill!
You can make all the components for this decadent dessert from scratch, or you can take a shortcut and buy pre-made chocolate and caramel sauces. There are many good ones on the market, and two of my favorites are from Fran’s, her Chocolate Sauce and Caramel Sauce. You can also make the sauces one day and the cheesecake brownie bars the next, saving yourself some of the time crunch if you are making this for a weeknight dinner.
I hope you enjoy today’s oozy, gooey, chocolatey, caramely, nutty, sticky, creamy and decadent scrumptious dessert!
Have a wonderful week and Happy Chocolate Monday!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When making any cheesecake, always make sure your cream cheese is softened at warm room temperature before you being the recipe. If your cream cheese is too firm, it produces clumps that you never seem to be able to completely remove. The last thing you want is lumpy cheesecake, so warm your cream cheese ahead and don’t take any shortcuts in this step!
Substitute gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour in recipes.
Kitchen Skill: How to Melt Chocolate
Chop chocolate into small pieces to speed the melting process and place them in a medium heatproof bowl (glass makes it easier to keep an eye on the simmering water).
Using a 3-quart saucepan, bring about 2 inches of water to a boil and reduce heat until water is just simmering. Place the bowl with chocolate in the pan, suspending it over the water. The steam will create a gentle heat to melt the chocolate. Use an oven mitt to stabilize the bowl as you stir the chocolate occasionally until it is mostly melted, then remove from the heat and let the residual heat finish melting the remaining chunks.
- Brownie Layer
- 3⁄4 stick (6 tbsp) unsalted butter
- 6 oz semisweet chocolate
- 3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- 1⁄2 tsp baking powder (use gluten-free version if needed)
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- 3⁄4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp powdered instant espresso coffee
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Cheesecake Layer
- 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour or rice flour for gluten-free
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tbsp Kahlua liqueur (or coffee flavoring) or strong coffee
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
- Hot Fudge Sauce
- 6 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup or Lyle’s Golden Cane Syrup (for those allergic to corn products or avoiding HFCS)
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Caramel Sauce
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Optional Garnishes
- Fresh pecan halves
- Fresh mint sprigs
- Whipped cream or ice cream
- Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13x9-inch rectangular or 10-inch round springform baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper and butter paper. If using 13x9-inch pan, use parchment long enough to drape over two sides of the pan, to aid in removing baked cake.
- Brownie Layer: Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. (Or microwave in a bowl on high, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.) Set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl beat brown sugar, eggs, powdered coffee and vanilla until blended. Stir in cooled chocolate mixture. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture. Spread batter in an even layer in prepared pan.
- Cheesecake Layer: Beat cream cheese, sugar and flour in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in liqueur, vanilla and cinnamon. Carefully pour over brownie layer and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Sprinkle top with chopped pecans. Bake 30 minutes, until top is set. Cool completely on wire rack before cutting in bars or wedges.
- Hot Fudge Sauce: Combine the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, and water in a saucepan over low heat and stir gently until fully combined, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt to the mixture and simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and very smooth, 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Use the sauce at once, or stir it occasionally as it cools to room temperature.
- To store the fudge sauce, transfer it to a clean bowl or jar, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Reheat the sauce over low heat or in the microwave before serving.
- Caramel Sauce: Mix the water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly.
- Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract). Simmer until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes.
- Serve warm, or add another 1/4 cup of heavy cream and serve at room temperature.
- To Serve: Cut into bars or wedges (depending on the pan you baked these in) and place on serving plates. Drizzle top with caramel sauce and then finish with hot fudge sauce. Sprinkle top with some pecans if desired. Serve with a sprig of fresh mint and a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollop of whipped cream, optional.
- Yield: about 24 small squares or 12 wedges
Create a New Tradition Today!
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