Filed under: Cheesecakes
January 11, 2021

Caramelized White Chocolate Cheesecake

Sweet, tangy and toasty flavors meet in this super creamy cheesecake. White chocolate is toasted to a deep flavor and combined with a cream cheese filling; it’s a deceptively simple process that requires no expertise. 

Yield: 10
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Sweet, nutty flavors meet in this super creamy cheesecake. White chocolate is toasted to a deep flavor and combined with a cream cheese filling. A deceptively simple process that requires no expertise. 

  

Caramelized White Chocolate 

Sometimes called ‘blonde’ chocolate, caramelized white is relatively new to many. It was invented (by accident!) in 2006 by a chef at Valrhona chocolate. The chef discovered that cooking white chocolate on low heat for a long time produced a chocolate that was darker, less sweet, and had a deeper, more complex flavor profile. The toasty flavor is so heavenly that I’m betting that even if you aren’t a white chocolate fan you will want to gobble this up by the handful. And the best part is, you don’t have to be a chef or a fancy baker to make it! 

 

chopped up caramelized white chocolate

How to make Caramelized White Chocolate 

The first time I made cwc was at least four years ago and I was convinced I was going to burn it and it was going to be a horrible process. I fussed over the oven, turning it every 7 minutes and took it out too early. The truth is, caramelizing it essentially means cooking it on low in the oven for about 45-50 minutes; and you only need to turn it about 4 times (so every 10-15 minute mark). 

The turning process is the most important; essentially the layer that touches the pan is what’s caramelizing the quickest. Every time you go into the oven to turn it, you’ll see a darker layer on the bottom. The goal is to reveal this darker level and turn the chocolate that hasn’t yet caramelized. Once you’ve done this, smooth the chocolate out and return to the oven.

Process of caramelizing white chocolate (step by step cues): 

  1. At the first 15 minute mark, the white chocolate will have just melted into a liquid which is quite easy to smooth over. It will look a bit bumpy, don’t worry about this. 
  2. At the second (so 25-30 minutes), you will see browning on the bottom layer, and the chocolate will be stiff and hard to turn. At this step, it’s important to turn as much of the bottom layer as possible so that it doesn’t burn and so that the rest of the white chocolate gets a chance to caramelize. Smooth it out into one layer. 
  3. At the third minute mark (10 mins after the last turn) the chocolate will be very stiff and difficult to move around. As you press to smooth it out it will begin to loosen back into a liquid. 
  4. At this point, if it hasn’t sufficiently browned (the color of dulce de leche), you can return it to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. No more. 
  5. Scrape the chocolate into a food processor and let it run on high for at least 5 minutes. This smoothes out the chocolate. 
  6. Pour it into a parchment lined pan or bowl and let it solidify for at least 24 hours. 
  7. Once solid, break it up into pieces. Store it in an airtight container. 

 

For step by step photos on caramelizing, see this recipe for brownie cookie with cwc chunks. I show the process at every 10 minutes in that series but like I said above, you can do every 10-15. 

 

Tools to caramelize white chocolate: 

If you aren’t making a lot of caramelized white chocolate, it’s easier to do on a silpat mat on a large cookie sheet. The silpat keeps it from sticking. For bigger amounts I use a very clean cake pan (no oil residue) without any mat or baking paper.

To turn the chocolate as it caramelizes, a rubber spatula that won’t scratch the pan is best. To smooth it over into one layer, an offset spatula works well. 

 

When should I caramelize the chocolate? 

I do mine in massive batches (like seven or eight 4.4 oz bars at a time) and keep it around the house for multiple uses (see below). If this cheesecake is your sole purpose for making the cwc, I’d make it at least 24 hours ahead of time. Once the chocolate is solid, you can re-melt it and make the ganache for the cheesecake. 

What kind of chocolate should I use to caramelize? 

A high quality, eating chocolate. The most important thing to consider when choosing which chocolate to caramelize is the cocoa butter. Too often you’ll find a mix of oils and sugar under the guise of ‘white chocolate’ when really, nothing from the cocoa bean actually went into the product. Check the ingredients and look for a high percentage of cocoa butter. Personally, I always use 4.4 oz lindt white chocolate bars

What else can I use Caramelized White Chocolate for? 

You can add it to cookies in place of chocolate chips or chunks like in these chocolate sables, or these rye brownie cookies. I also have a swiss meringue cwc buttercream recipe and a more basic American style cwc buttercream. Here are some cwc fudgesicles that taste like the frozen version of Werthers caramels (but better!). Also, it makes a wonderful ganache to top off these double chocolate babka rolls. But one of my absolute favorite ways to have cwc is paired with apple cider baked goods; I’ve used it as a ganache topping for my apple cider cheesecake and as chunks in my apple cider caramel ice cream. The list is endless! 

What if I don’t want to caramelize the chocolate myself? 

You can buy it, available from Valrhona in feve or baking bar form under the label “Dulcey” although the flavor of homemade cwc is better and stronger because it doesn’t undergo as much tempering, even if it’s dry and crumbly. 

 

Caramelized White Chocolate Cheesecake 

Tangy and sweet meet in this glorious dessert. I’ll warn you, it is rich and decadent! A true treat! To come up with this recipe I followed the formula of my pistachio cheesecake and my apple cider cheesecake recipes; a mix of cream cheese and sour cream for the filling which I find gives me an ultra creamy interior. 

To keep that creaminess but incorporate the chocolate, we’ll first make a ganache with the chocolate and some heavy cream. Once cooled, this is added to the filling.  

Because so much of the sugar is coming from the chocolate, I really cut back on the added sugar. Part of me thinks you could skip it entirely but I haven’t tried doing that yet. 

 

What pan should I use for baking the cheesecake? 

I know it’s traditional to use a springform pan, but ugh I just didn’t want to deal with worrying about leaking; especially with the water bath. I baked this cheesecake in an 8 inch cake pan which was oiled and then lined with parchment paper and stuck it in a larger cake pan filled with water. Even if I didn’t have super straight sides, my cheesecake baked perfectly and was not at mess at all. And tbh, I quite like the ruffly bits I get on the sides; they add such a pretty look! 

 

How to make a sturdy cheesecake crust that doesn’t crumble and isn’t too oily 

To do this, first you need the right ratio of cookie crumbs to butter. I find 9 oz of crumbs to 4oz of butter works well. I use digestive cookies but you can also use graham crackers, nilla wafers, or oreos. For the oreos I would remove the cream first, then weigh and grind them. 

Secondly, pre-baking the crust is what will solidify it. This allows the butter to bind with the crumbs under the heat. It only needs about 10 minutes in the oven but this step is crucial. When the crust comes out, let it cool to room temperature. If you have time, stick it in the freezer for it to further solidify. The below photo shows my crust post-bake. 

 

 

How to make a creamy cheesecake

  1. Ensure your cream cheese and eggs are room temperature. 
  2. Use a food processor to process the cream cheese and remove any and all lumps. 
  3. Be careful when processing the eggs: leave them last and process until just fully mixed, don’t overdo it. 
  4. Bake the cheesecake in a water bath (a cake pan filled with water). 
  5. Let the cheesecake cool first in the oven and then at room temperature. 

 

 

Recipe for Caramelized White Chocolate Cheesecake 

Caramelized White Chocolate Cheesecake

Sweet, nutty flavors meet in this super creamy cheesecake. White chocolate is toasted to a deep flavor and combined with a cream cheese filling.
caramelized white chocolate cheesecake with cider whipped cream, pecans, blackberries and figs on a plate with slices cut
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs
Chill Time: 8 hrs
Yields: 10
4.86 from 7 votes

Ingredients

Crust

  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 cups digestive or graham cookie crumbs

Filling

  • 2 cups caramelized white chocolate* see how to above
  • ½ cup heavy cream plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 packages cream cheese at room temperature (16 oz)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Rub an 8” cake pan with oil and line it with parchment paper. It’s fine if it crinkles on the sides.
  • Make the crust by melting the butter and mixing with the crumbs. Once the crumbs are sufficiently wet, press them into the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides. Use your fingers to distribute the crust in an even layer and use the bottom of a measuring cup to press and pack them in so the crust is quite tight. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Lower the heat to 325. Melt the caramelized white chocolate in the microwave
  • carefully to avoid burning it. Stir it after 30 seconds and when it’s mostly melted remove it add the heavy cream and stir until completely smooth.
  • Make the filling in a food processor: process the cream cheese and sugar on high for about 5 minutes, until completely smooth and no lumps remain. Make sure to scrape the sides and process again if some has caught on the sides.
  • Add the sour cream, vanilla and process again until smooth. Pour in the melted and cooled ganache and process. Add the eggs and process on low until just combined. Pour filling into the cooled crust.
  • Place the 8” cake pan in the center of a 13×9” pan and fill the bottom pan with water about halfway. Set the cheesecake in the water bath in the oven and bake for about an hour – until the edges are set but the center still jiggles a bit.
  • Let the cheesecake cool in the oven. Crack open the oven door with a wooden spoon and turn off the oven. After about an hour you can remove it and set it on the counter to fully cool. Set it in the fridge overnight. Store in the fridge.

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  1. 5 stars
    This is such a luscious dessert. It’s the perfect cheesecake for a special holiday treat. For anyone else who bakes for a crowd I baked a double bat h in a 1/4 sheet cake pan, sliced, it and it was the hit of my holiday party!

    • I would use a little more than 2 cups of white chocolate as some of the chocolate will be lost in the scraping, moving from pan to processor then to the cake. So maybe around 360g would be safe

      • 5 stars
        Made this cheesecake this weekend and it was wonderful! I had a 12 oz bag of Guittard white chocolate chips to use for my caramelized white chocolate and I put it all in the ganache. It worked beautifully! I don’t have a big food processor but my stand mixer did a great job on the filling with room temperature cream cheese and eggs, as noted. I’ve been dying to try caramelized white chocolate and I will definitely make this again!

  2. 5 stars
    Best cheesecake My husband and I have had. I make my own white chocolate and usually have a bunch on hand because my hubby is a fiend. I made a huge batch of the caramelized white choc and can’t wait to use it in other things. Recipe is super easy, read through it first and don’t stress out.

  3. 5 stars
    This is probably one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever made/eaten. Very easy to make. Smooth creamy texture. Has kind of a caramel/dulce de leche flavor. I thought using the parchment paper and cake pan was great because my previous attempts at cheesecake using springform pan have gotten some water leaked into the pan at times. Would definitely make this again.

    • 5 stars
      I love cheesecake and this is definitely the best one I’ve ever eaten. I’ve never made a baked cheesecake before that didn’t split but I followed all Sam’s instructions and this turned out perfectly. Caramelising the chocolate takes some time but it is absolutely worth it. I’ve never had anything like this before and would definitely make it again!

  4. 4 stars
    This recipe caught my eye immediately as I was looking for a mini project, and caramelising white chocolate sounded fun! The actual process was a little more stressful than I expected, however it came out good and it’s amazing how roasting it in the oven can transform white chocolate. It tastes very similar to Caramac, so if you can’t be bothered, I’d recommend that as a substitute.
    The cheesecake itself had a great texture, and with the waterbath there was no cracking! However, I did somehow manage to get water leaking into the base which made it a bit soft (it still tasted good though). The only thing stopping me from giving this recipe a full 5 stars is that the flavour of the caramelised white chocolate isn’t very strong. This is probably just the nature of white chocolate, as it often gets muted. Still, this is a lovely cheesecake, and maybe layering the leftover melted chocolate on top after baking will bring the flavour forward?

    • Victoria, I’m curious how you got water in through the cake pan? Unless you used a springform? Or was the water too high/cake pan had short sides? I’m glad the caramelized white chocolate worked out – and you are right about it being a not-so-strong taste, but that’s the nature of white. Never heard of caramac, might have to check it out!

      • I did use a springform! Though I was careful to cover it all in foil to avoid this from happening. I suspect maybe my water was too high or maybe when I took it out some condensation ran down the side? I’m not sure if Caramac is in the US, but it’s one of my favourite chocolate bars so definitely get your hands on some!! 🙂