This caramel cheesecake is the ultimate salted caramel dessert. It has a peanut butter cookie crust. It is made with homemade salted caramel. The caramel cheesecake layer is ultra creamy and it has extra caramel on top. This cheesecake would be the ultimate holiday dessert!
When I was making this caramel cheesecake recipe, I wanted something to make this unique when compared to all the other cheesecakes, which is why it has a peanut butter cookie crust.
The peanut butter cookies crust makes the cheesecake SO much better. It helps to balance out the sweetness from the caramel and it just tastes amazing. I got this idea from my peanut butter and jelly cheesecake bars.
Why You Will Love This
- So Much Caramel- This cheesecake has homemade caramel both in the cheesecake and on top.
- Peanut Butter Cookie Crust- What makes this different from other cheesecakes is the peanut butter cookie crust. It tastes so amazing!
- The Creamiest Cheesecake- This cheesecake turns out so creamy. It feels rich, but also super light. It is the best combo!
- Pretzels- The pretzels add some crunch!
Here are the ingredient notes for this recipe.
- Peanut butter- I use JIF peanut butter, but Skippy would work as well. It needs to be creamy. The natural peanut butters are too runny for this recipe.
- Dairy ingredients- All of the dairy ingredients that say room temperature need to be pulled out 2 hours before baking. Especially the cream cheese.
- Cream cheese- The cream cheese needs to be Philadelphia full fat. There is a big difference in texture between store brand and Philadelphia. Also, the full fat is needed for cheesecake recipes.
- Sour cream- Make sure the sour cream is also full fat.
- Pretzels- The cheesecake tastes great without the pretzels. However, they add such a great crunch! The pretzels should only be added right before serving. Refrigerated pretzels will become soft.
How To Make Salted Caramel
This salted caramel recipe is a lot easier than a lot of caramels out there. The result is a silky caramel loaded with vanilla and salt. You could eat it by the spoon! Here is how to make it.
- Room temperature heavy cream and butter. Pull these out 2 hours before baking. If you use cold ingredients it will cause the caramel to seize up.
- First, heat the sugar in a saucepan. Let it sit in the pot until you notice the sugar starts to melt. Once it all starts to melt, use a metal whisk continuously until all the sugar crystals are melted.
- Next, let the caramel turn amber in color. This takes less than 15 seconds. Let it sit without whisking until it turns amber. Take off the heat immediately. It is really easy to burn the caramel at this step, so watch it closely.
- Then, add in the butter and heavy cream. Add half of each, one a time. Then, mix well. Once fully mixed add in the vanilla and salt.
Now it is done! It is so easy! Let the caramel cool completely before you use it in the cheesecake. Hot caramel mixed with cheesecake batter doesn't end well.
Step By Step Instructions
STEP 1: First, make the peanut butter cookie dough. Mix the butter and sugar on high until fluffy. Add the rest of the wet ingredients. Next, add in the dry ingredients.
STEP 2: Chill the cookie dough in the freezer for 40 minutes. You can also do 3 hours in the fridge. Press ¾ of the cookie dough in the spring form pan. Bake for 25 minutes.
STEP 3: Wait for the cookie layer to be done baking before starting the cheesecake batter. The cookie layer needs to slightly cool. Start by beating the cream cheese on high for 1 minute. Next, add in the sugar and repeat.
STEP 4: Scrape the bowl. Then, add in sour cream, vanilla and caramel. Mix until fully combined. Scrape the bowl a lot through this entire process. Next, add in the eggs one at time. Mix on low until just combined.
STEP 5: Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the cookie layer. Prepare a water bath. Then, bake for 75-80 minutes.
STEP 6: Let it cool in the oven, then let it cool on the counter. Cool it completely before chilling it in the fridge.
STEP 7: Chill for 6 hours or overnight. I always chill overnight.
Preventing Cracks Tips
Here is a list of tips to prevent cracking in the cheesecake.
- Beat all the ingredients, except the eggs, on high. Cream cheese lumps can disrupt the cheesecake causing it to crack.
- When adding in the eggs, mix on low. You want as little air as possible mixed into the eggs. Extra air in the eggs will cause the cheesecake to rise quickly in the oven and deflate quickly, which will cause it to crack.
- You NEED a water bath. Cheesecakes need a moist oven. Putting a water bath on a lower rack with the cheesecake on top will not work. The cheesecake needs to be in the water in order to be kept moist. See my recipe for water bath methods.
- Don't over bake. Over baking can also lead to cracks. The cheesecake is done baking when there is a very slight jiggle in the middle. If it moves like Jello, then bake for another 10 minutes.
- Let the cheesecake first cool in the oven. Turn the oven off, crack open the door, and let it sit for 30 minutes. The temperature will slowly go down, and this will prevent cracking. Placing the cheesecake immediately on the counter is too much of a temperature difference.
Topping The Cheesecake
The cheesecake should be topped with salted caramel. The pretzels are optional, but they are delcious!
If the caramel is too thick, heat in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. It should be pourable.
With the peanut butter, it creates a soft dough which is why it needs to be chilled before you can use it in the pan. Also, make sure it gets baked before you add the cheesecake batter.
Absolutely. See this chocolate bar cheesecake for a graham cracker crust.
This is because you didn't beat the cream cheese enough. Or it could be the cream cheese was cold.
I have not tried this with no eggs, check out other vegan food bloggers to see vegan cheesecake recipes.
This is because you didn't let all the sugar melt before adding in the butter. It needs to be all melted first.
Storing and Freezing
This cheesecake needs to be stored in an air tight container like a cake carrier. It will last up to 5 days in the fridge. You can also store in individual slices in an air tight container.
This caramel cheesecake can be frozen without any of the decoration. Wrap the whole cheesecake in cling wrap. (Let it chill in the fridge overnight first.) Wrap in foil and store in the freezer up to 30 days.
When you are ready to thaw it, take it out of the freezer and put it into the fridge for at least 24 hours.
Then, top with caramel and pretzels.
Other Cheesecake Recipes To Try
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Peanut Butter Cookie Crust
- 1 ¼ cup All-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon Baking soda
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ cup Unsalted butter room temperature
- ⅔ cup Brown sugar packed light or dark
- ⅓ cup White granulated sugar
- ½ cup Peanut butter creamy
- 1 Large egg room temperature
- 1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup White granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoon Unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup Heavy cream room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
- 24 oz Cream cheese room temperature
- ¾ cup White granulated sugar
- ⅛ cup Sour cream room temperature
- ⅓ cup Salted caramel
- 1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
- 3 Large eggs room temperature
- Pretzels for decoration
- Place sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium heat. Let it sit until the sugar starts to melt, then mix with a wire whisk. Mix until every sugar crystal is melted. Let it sit until it turns amber in color. This takes less than 15 seconds. Remove immediately from the heat.1 cup White granulated sugar
- Add in half of the butter. Mix until combined. It will bubble a lot. Add the rest of the butter and mix. Add in half of the heavy cream and mix. Then, add in the rest of heavy cream. Mix in the salt and vanilla.1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract, 2 tablespoon Unsalted butter, ½ cup Heavy cream, ¼ teaspoon Salt, ½ teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
- Pour caramel in a glass container and let it cool completely. This can be made ahead of time. After it cools, cover with cling wrap.
Peanut Butter Cookie Crust
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 9 inch spring form pan with baking non-stick spray. Line with a 9 inch parchment circle on the bottom. Spray again.
- In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using a mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar on high. Beat until light and fluffy. Add in the peanut butter and mix until combined. Add in the vanilla and egg. Mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and mix for 10 seconds.1 ¼ cup All-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon Baking soda, ½ teaspoon Salt, ½ cup Unsalted butter, ⅔ cup Brown sugar, ⅓ cup White granulated sugar, ½ cup Peanut butter, 1 Large egg, 1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
- Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Freeze bowl for 40 minutes.
- Place ¾ of the dough in the pan. The rest of the dough is not needed for this recipe. See notes for baking it into cookies later. Press the dough up ½ the sides of the pan. Compact the crust.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Let it cool while you make the cheesecake batter.
- Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese on high for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Add in the sugar, and beat on high for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl and beat for 15 more seconds.24 oz Cream cheese, ¾ cup White granulated sugar
- Add in the sour cream, caramel, and vanilla. If the caramel is too thick, heat in the microwave for 10 seconds until it is a pourable consistency. Mix until all is combined. You will have to scrape the bowl to make sure it is all mixed in.⅛ cup Sour cream, ⅓ cup Salted caramel, 1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
- Slowly add in the eggs one at time. Mix on low until just combined. Pour batter into the spring form pan.3 Large eggs
- Prepare a water bath. You will need boiling water and a large roasting pan. There are two options.1. Place spring form pan in a 10 inch cake pan. Place both in the roasting pan and fill with hot water until it reaches halfway on the cake pan. This is my favorite and guarantees no water gets to the crust.2. Wrap spring form pan with foil. Wrap twice very tightly. Place in the roasting pan and fill halfway up the spring form pan with hot water.
- Bake for 70-85 minutes. The cheesecake is done baking with the edges are set and the middle has a slight jiggle. If the middle has a bigger jiggle, bake for 10 minutes and check again.
- Turn off the oven, crack open the door, and let the cheesecake sit for 30 minutes. Then, transfer to a cooling rack. Let the cheesecake cool completely. Wrap in foil and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Take the springform pan off the cheesecake and remove the parchment circle. Top with the remaining caramel. ( If it is too thick, microwave for 10 seconds). Top with pretzels.Pretzels