There is nothing quite as lovely as cracking through the sugary crust of crème brûlée. It’s like unwrapping a present. A crunchy, creamy, vanilla present. But you don’t have to limit this lovely topping to making actual crème brûlée. You can give the same crunchy caramel treatment to cheesecake. It's rich and creamy enough to evoke crème brûlée but with a little tang from cream cheese. This is lovely on it’s own, but even better with a sweet-and-sour cherry topping.
Baking the cheesecake in a water bath provides gentle, even heat and helps prevent cracking.
crème brûlée cheesecake:
adapted from Fine Cooking
1 cup graham crumbs
¼ cup. unsalted butter, melted
1.5 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
4 oz. mascarpone or full-fat yogurt
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
Pinch of flaky salt
½ cup + 2 tbs cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tbs granulated sugar
Heat the oven to 375 F. Line the bottom of a 6” springform pan with parchment paper.
Combine graham crumbs and melted butter, mix until well combined. Press crumbs into the bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes and set aside to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Wrap the outside of the springform pan in tinfoil to make it watertight. Half-fill a large roasting pan with water, making sure it’s big enough to hold the springform pan without overflowing.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese, mascarpone, flour and salt on medium speed until there are no more lumps. Scrape down the bowl and add ½ cup + 2tbs sugar. Continue beating until well incorporated and smooth. Add vanilla and beat briefly. Add eggs one at a time and beat until just incorporated. Pour filling over the prepared crust and set in the water-filled pan in the oven. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until set around the edges with a wobbly centre.
Chill the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Run a knife around the outside of the cheesecake and release the sides of the pan. Carefully slide the cake onto a serving plate.
Sprinkle 3 tbs sugar over the cake and use a kitchen torch to melt and caramelize it, moving in steady circles over the surface until evenly caramelized. Serve with cherry compote.
sour cherry compote:
1 cup fresh or frozen pitted cherries
1 cup sour cherries, fresh or from a jar
¼ cup sugar (+ more if using fresh sour cherries)
2 tbs lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over medium low heat. Cook until the cherries soften and the sugar and liquids thicken into a heavy syrup, about 15-20 mins. Allow to cool and spoon over cheesecake slices.