Over on Taste forums a week or so ago someone put out a request for a Mars Bar cheesecake. There are plenty of recipes around for mars bar cheesecake, most of which involve chopping up and/or melting Mars bars into a cheesecake mix. However that wasn't what this person was looking for. Described as having discrete layers of caramel, cheesecake and chocolate all in a biscuit base so, looking for something creative to do, I thought I would give it a shot to come up with something.
The caramel layer was easy enough, I just boiled a can of sweetened condensed milk. Although unfortunately I didn't boil it quite long enough so it is a touch runny. The chocolate layer was simple enough, a softish ganache made from equal quantities of cream and dark chocolate. You could make a firmer ganache but I wanted something nice and soft. My main issue was how to make the cheesecake layer "Mars bar-ish". I looked at some chilled cheesecake recipes. I looked up nougat filling recipes wondering if I could combine the two. Discarded most ideas with the thought of them being overly sweet and decided in the end I to go with something really simple. I added a good slug of vanilla extract (paste would have been better but I don't have any at the moment) and used dark brown sugar in the mix instead of white or icing sugar. The result is, if I do say so myself, rather spectacular. It it doesn't quite have the taste of a mars bar, the tang of the cream cheese still there. You could add more sugar if you want, I hedged my bets on that last night when I was making it as I though maybe with the sweetness from the caramel it would be overpowering. For me personally it is perfect but please do it to your own taste. Out of this recipe I made 1 x 15 cm tart and 2 x 6 cm tarts, it would probably fit perfectly into a 20 cm round x 3 cm deep tart tin.
Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake
1 400 g tin sweetened condensed milk (you could also use Top'n'fill)
250 g butternut snap cookies
50 g butter, melted
250 g cream cheese
100 ml double cream (you could used thickened I think)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
100 ml pure cream (you could used thickened)
100 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
Simmer tin of sweetened condensed milk in a large pot of water, making sure that the water is at least 2.5 cm over the top of the tin at all times, for 3 - 4 hours. (If you let the water level drop below the tin it can explode, please be VERY careful when doing this, other methods for turning sweetened condensed milk in to caramel are discussed here or here.
Finely grind cookies in a processor or you can put them in a bag wrap with a tea towel and beat with a rolling pin or meat mallet. (The rolling pin method is particular good if you are stress or frustrated. LOL) Combine crumbs with melted butter and press firmly into base and sides of a tart tin. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Beat cream cheese in a mixer, or by hand, until light and fluffy. Add double cream and beat to combine. Add vanilla and sugar and beat until sugar has dissolved.
Spread caramel in an even thick layer in the tart tin. (I only used about 2/3 of my tin of caramel). Top with the cheesecake mixture leaving about 1/2 cm space at the top for the chocolate. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat cream in a small saucepan until small bubbles start to form around the edges (just before boiling point). Place chocolate in a glass or ceramic bowl and pour over cream. Whisk continuously until chocolate has melted. Allow to cool slightly and pour over cream cheese layer (I ended up with quite a bit of chocolate left over perhaps try 80g/80ml) and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.