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Because in food I trust. In all forms and shapes. 

Condensed milk and caramel cheesecake

He ate one bite, then a second, and said: “This is my top cake in 2018 and it will be very hard to beat it”. And it was just the 10th of January. Yes, as some of the recipes in my life, and also in all the world’s cultures and traditions, this happened by accident with the need to use some products, something that was left over, and something that was there in the fridge looking at me, saying; “It's time for you to use me.” And OMG, it was good! I totally agree with my husband – this was a fantastic cake. And then he said – the main thing is to make this just like that again. Oh boy. The next morning I got up, went to the shop, bought cream cheese, let it rest at room temperature and made it again. Voila, success! It was the same, with just one problem left – eating it.

caramel:
210 g white sugar
3 tbsp water
1.5 tsp honey
180 ml whipping cream
75 g butter, in pieces
1/3 tsp vanilla powder
1/5 tbsp coarse sea salt

For the base:
120 g cookies – pretzels and butter cookies
30 g candied quince
65 g butter, melted

for the filling:
500 g cream cheese, room temperature
30 g cornstarch
130 g golden caster sugar
zest of 1 organic orange, finely grated
seeds of 1 vanilla pod
pinch of sea salt
2 medium eggs, room temperature
100 sweetened condensed milk
150 g caramel cream/sauce

for the middle layer:
100 g cream cheese
4 tbsp caramel

For top layer:
200 g whipping cream
pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp Demerara or golden caster sugar
¼ tsp vanilla powder

Prepare

Make the caramel sauce. Pour the sugar into a pot, add water, honey, and heat on a low heat. Do not mix, but move the pot around in a circle every now and then. When the sugar has melted and has begun to bubble, turn up the heat to medium and simmer until the caramel has turned brown. Then turn the heat to high and boil until it is the color of amber. Remove from the heat, add the cream (be careful – it will splatter!) and stir until the caramel sauce is uniform. Boil for 1 minute. Take off the heat, and mixing constantly with a hand whisk (not electric, but balloon) add the butter – piece by piece. You can add the next piece only when the first one has melted (mix all the time). Add the last piece of butter, add vanilla, salt, and mix 1 minute more (this will help the caramel stay even and smooth), pour into a jar and cool.

Heat the oven to 200° from the top and bottom. Place the rack one level below centre. Line the bottom of a 19 - 20 cm diameter cake pan with parchment paper.

Prepare the base. Butter the sides of the pan. Process half of the cookies so they are quite fine and place in a bowl. Add quince to the other half of the cookies in the food processor, and process until the quince is in smallish pieces. Add to the cookie crumbs in the bowl. Add the butter and mix. Press the mixture unto the bottom and sides of the pan, making it about 5mm thick. Make sure the corner is not too thick. Put in the oven for 15 minutes and then remove.

Lower the oven temperature to 140°.

Prepare the filling. In a mixing bowl, place 1/3 of the cream cheese, about 50 g sugar, and cornstarch. Beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment, but if you don’t have one, then whisk for about 2 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides, until the mixture is creamy. Continuing beating, gradually add another 1/3 of the cream cheese, incorporating well. Repeat with the last 1/3. When all the cream cheese has been added, add the remaining sugar in two parts. Then, while the mixer is running, add the vanilla bean, orange zest, and salt. Slowly mix everything in, scraping down the sides. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating each one in well and scraping down the sides. While the mixer is on low speed, add condensed milk to the cream cheese mixture. Mix everything well on low speed, just until fully incorporated.

Pour 1/2 of the filling into the pan, sprinkle around 3 tbsp of caramel and pour over rest of the cheese mix. Pour over 3 more spoons of caramel. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes. Don't open before the 45th minute, and only then try to shake the pan just a bit. If the mixture is set on the sides and jiggles just a tiny bit in the centre, it is ready. If it moves a lot, then bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature (completely), cover with cling film, and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Take the cake out of the fridge. For the middle layer, in a bowl, mix the cream cheese with a mixer until it is creamy. Add caramel, mix until smooth. Spread on the cake in an even layer leaving 1 cm from the sides.

For the top layer, whip the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add salt, vanilla and sugar and mix until it holds peaks – they have to be firm but smooth at the same time. I like to whisk with a hand balloon whisk, as I can control the stage of readiness. Spread over the cake, pour over the caramel and serve.

Recipe and pictures: Signe Meirane
Camera: Sony Alpha 7s

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