Friday, November 14, 2014

Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Trifles

My neighbor JoAnn and I were trying to find a dessert recipe that was more on the unique and special side.  Our ward Relief Society was hosting a Gratitude Dinner a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and pumpkin was on everyone's mind.  Don't know about you, but in my book - pumpkin is a nice touch, but it doesn't trump cheesecake.  After several attempts, we came up with this version that was pretty amazing.  A pecan shortbread crumb layer on the bottom, delicious smooth cheesecake piped in a mound, then topped with Leatherby's Caramel and roughly chopped toasted pecans.  

Here is the recipe (pieced together from about 5-6 recipes of our own and online).  We had to make 8 batches of this recipe to come up with 65 trifles, and if you'd like to see how we did that easily in one night - be sure to read below.

Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Trifles

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Cheesecake Layer:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 cup heavy whipping cream (measure before whipping) - we used the 40% butterfat from Costco
1 tsp real vanilla

Whip butter and add flour and pecans.  Crumble onto a large lipped baking sheet.  Bake at 350° just until golden brown (watch carefully to avoid burning).  Let stand until cool, then loosen with a spatula and crumble into a bowl.  Set aside.

Whip cream cheese until smooth.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla.  In another bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form.  Fold cream cheese mixture into whipped cream until combined, being careful not to overmix.  

Place cheesecake mixture into large pastry bag to pipe into cups.  

Measure about 2 Tbs crumb mixture into bottom of each cup.  Pipe cheesecake in a circular motion on top of crumb layer.  

Drizzle with warmed caramel sauce (purchased, or your own recipe).  Top with additional toasted chopped pecans.

We had to make 65, and decided to showcase them in the clear shortish plastic cups you can purchase in a warehouse store such as Sam's and Costco.  They were 7-oz cups, and turned out to be just the right size.  

We baked and crumbled the shortbread crust beforehand, and used a 2 Tbs measuring cup to add it to the bottom of each cup.  Make sure you don't press it down, as the cheesecake is heavy and will compact it just enough.  If you would rather use crumbs instead of chopped pecans and caramel as your topping, reserve some.  We were able to fit about 18-20 cups on a standard size aluminum baking sheet (with sides).  Then as we filled the cups with the cheesecake mixture, we covered the entire baking sheet with a large sheet of plastic wrap.  We could stack about 3 layers this way in the refrigerator to chill.  

We multiplied this recipe 8 times, and each batch yielded about 8 very generous portions.  You could squeeze out 10 per recipe if you use smaller containers.  I used my Bosch mixer and it kept the mess to a minimum.  I was able to make 4 batches in the large capacity (covered!) bowl.  First, I used the cookie paddles to blend the cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  Then I removed the sweetened cream cheese mixture to a second bowl while I whipped the cream with the wire whisks in the same Bosch bowl.  (Being able to cover the large capacity bowl completely while whipping the cream was great - saved on spatters all over the kitchen)  At this point, I changed the whisks back to the cookie paddles - and added the cream cheese mixture back into the whipped cream.  I used the lowest speed of the mixer to then "fold" it in.  

At this point, we prepared large 14" pastry bags fitted with a large star tip.  Scoop the cheesecake mixture into the bag(s) and pipe in a circular motion around the interior of the cup.  

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