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Holiday Sweet: Fleur de Sel Cheesecake

Linda's assistant shares a favorite holiday recipe

12 1 2011

Here it is. Finally. In all it’s glory. The ever so anticipated Fleur de Sel Cheesecake recipe that I tweeted about on Thanksgiving. I know you all were drooling, don’t lie. Truth is, cheesecake baking always sounds difficult but actually it is quite easy and incredibly rewarding. So what are you waiting for? Plan a dinner party! A Cocktail Party! A Birthday Party! Whatever it is, this is cause for a celebration. Get baking! This cake is sure to impress.

First. The essentials. In photographic form (I’m visual!)

Get Organized! Gingersnap Cookies Sea Salt

1. Rule of thumb: Get organized. Lay out all of the ingredients and bakeware you will need first
2. The Triple Ginger Snap cookies from Trader Joe’s are fantastically spicy — they make the perfect crust
3. Huge crystals are the best. You can’t beat that sweet and salty bite!

Crust oven caramel in bowl

4. Picture Perfect: pour the batter into the golden brown & delicious crust
5. Line up your tray of boiling water center to your cake. The steam from the water helps to cook this gently to perfection
6. Pour the caramel in the bowl. Allow to cool in the fridge

optimal caramel color  waiting  caramel in bowl

7. This is the color that you’re looking for. Yum!
8.  Waiting….
9. I’m almost ready for my close-up!


10. Slice. Eat. Enjoy.

Second. The Recipe: 

Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan and Zoe Nathan via Joy the Baker Blog

For the Crust:
2 cups ginger snap cookie crumbs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Pinch of salt (regular salt)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:
1 pound (2 blocks) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (you can use the fleur de sel here)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the Caramel:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

I give Joy all the credit here. I followed her instructions and the cheesecake came out perfect every time. I instruct you do the same.

“Place two racks in the upper and bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. You’ll need a 9-inch pie plate (use a 9” springform cake tin, they work the best, and your cake comes out perfect for a killer presentation) and a 9×13-inch pan for boiling water.

To make the crust, place cookies in the bowl of a food processor and grind to a fine crumb. If you don’t have a food processor you can crumble cookies in a zip lock bag with a rolling pin. Once you’ve created a fine crumb, add brown sugar, salt, and butter. Toss together, moistening all of the ginger snap crumbs. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and press with fingers until sides and bottom are evenly coated with crust.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool while you make the cheesecake filling (put it in the freezer, it’s faster…). Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Place a tea kettle of water on the stove top to boil. We’re going to add hot water to the 9×13-inch pan to place under the baking cheesecake.

To make the cheesecake filling: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese and granulated sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in salt and vanilla extract until well incorporated. Add eggs, beating one at a time between each addition. Once creamy and smooth, slowly beat in the cream, beating on medium high until creamy and luscious. Add lemon zest.

Pour cheesecake mixture into the prepared cheesecake crust.

Place 9×13-inch pan in the bottom shelf of the hot oven. Carefully pour in hot water, and fill to ½ inch from the top. Push into oven.

Place cheesecake on the upper oven shelf. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until cheesecake is browned and puffed. When cheesecake is puffed and doesn’t have loose giggle in the center, turn oven off and use a towel to prop the oven open slightly. Let cheesecake rest for another 45 minutes in the cooling oven. Remove from the oven and cool completely, for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best in the refrigerator.

While the cheesecake cools, make the caramel so it can cool as well.

To make the caramel, add sugar, water, and corn syrup to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring once or twice. Bring to a boil and allow to brown. Ok, you really have to let it brown, keep it on the stove until you think it’s right about to burn, I’d say about 3-4 minutes (seriously your patience and anxiety will be rewarded with an amazing color). Once sugar has browned to a medium amber color, remove from heat and immediately add heavy cream and butter. Mixture will boil and foam. Stir well. Add salt and stir well to incorporate. Caramel may seem thin… that’s ok. Place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.

Pour the cooled caramel over the cooled cheesecake, return to the refrigerator until ready to serve. Sprinkle with a dash of sea salt then slice and serve.”

Bon Appétit!

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Jennifer fuels her insatiable enthusiasm for fashion and its history by working as the personal assistant to Linda Fargo. At just 24, she is the gatekeeper’s gatekeeper, stylishly juggling calendars, trend reports and much, much more in the bustling Bergdorf Goodman Fashion Office.  She also contributes to Bergdorf Goodman’s Pinterest.

More by Jennifer:

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