My husband is obsessed with salted caramel in desserts. He was first exposed to it with these sweet and salty brownies, and then with these salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bars. And now these cheesecakes.
You start with a graham cracker crust. Then you mix up a standard cheesecake batter, mixing in salted caramel sauce so the entire cheesecake is permeated with that wonderful flavor. And just before baking, swirl in more salted caramel sauce.
If you don't want to make your own salted caramel sauce, the one from Trader Joe's is actually pretty good, so you can save time by buying that. Also, when swirling the caramel into the cheesecake batter, it's easier when the caramel is warm - I just heated it in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds, and it was much easier to swirl.
Salted Caramel Cheesecake Cupcakes
basic cheesecake adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
makes 16 cupcakes
For the crust:
- 3/4 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 6 graham crackers)
- 1 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 Tbs sugar
- pinch of salt
For the Cheesecakes:
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tbs salted caramel sauce, plus more for swirling (just under 1/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line 2 muffin tins with liners.
Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt. Press 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of each lined cup (a shot glass works really well for pressing the mixture down). Bake about 5 minutes and set muffin pans aside while you mix the cheesecake batter.
With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, add the sugar in a slow steady stream. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the salt, vanilla, and then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Stir in the 3 tablespoons of salted caramel sauce.
Spoon 3 tablespoons of filling into each lined muffin cup. Then dollop about 1/2 teaspoon (total) of salted caramel sauce in a few spots (this works best if the sauce is warm). Use a toothpick or skewer to swirl the caramel into the batter.
Bake 22-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven to cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.