I don't think I've ever met anyone who dislikes cheesecake. I'm sure there are people who are not fans but I haven't personally met anyone. It's such an indulgent dessert but when it's done right, it's worth every single calorie. I can happily say that this caramelized honey cheesecake with cherry compote is a great example of that. With my first bite, my eyes closed and I immediately knew it was a winner. With a chocolate graham cracker crust, caramelized honey swirled in the cheesecake, and tangy cherry compote, it's everything you want in a dessert.
Caramelized Honey Cheesecake with Cherry Compote
Chocolate graham cracker crust
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (198 grams)
- ½ cup cocoa powder (40 grams)
- 3 tbsp brown sugar (36 grams)
- 6 tbsp butter, melted (85 grams)
- 1 large egg white
Caramelized honey cheesecake
- 2 lb cream cheese softened
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup sour cream (240 grams)
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- ½ cup honey (6 ounces)
- 1 tsp water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 lb cherries, pitted
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Make the chocolate graham cracker crust. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs with cocoa powder, brown sugar, melted butter, and egg white until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch cheesecake springform pan, pressing the crust up the sides and on the bottom to form a crust. Chill the crust in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
- Prepare the cheesecake filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another minute.
- Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating the egg before adding the next. Add the sour cream and vanilla bean and mix until well combined. Set aside.
- Heat the honey with water and lemon juice in a small sauce pot over low heat. Stir the honey mixture continuously until it starts to simmer. Let the mixture sit and simmer until the honey turns a deep golden color and starts to smell nutty, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Line the cheesecake pan with 2 layers of aluminum foil. Add ⅔ of the slightly warm honey to the cream cheese mixture and gently stir to combine. Pour the filling into the crust. Drizzle the remaining honey on top and swirl it with a spatula.
- Place the cheesecake in a water bath with enough boiling water to reach 1-inch up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour - 1 hour 20 minutes or until the edges have set. The center of the cheesecake will still be jiggly. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 5-6 hours with the door closed. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool completely in the fridge overnight.
- Meanwhile, make cherry compote. Pit the cherries and place them in a medium saucepot with the water, honey, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the cherries have softened. Combine 1 tbsp cornstarch with 2 tbsp water and add to the cherries. Simmer for another minute or until the compote has thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Top the caramelized honey cheesecake with the cherry compote and serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
In my mind, cherries and chocolate make the absolute perfect pairing. Sure, chocolate pretty much goes with anything but it's especially delicious with cherries. So it only made sense to make a cheesecake that incorporates both flavors along with caramelized honey (my new obsession).
In order to avoid the chocolate from overpowering the other flavors, we're going to only add cocoa powder to the crust. Don't worry, you'll still be able to taste the chocolate at the end.
Combine melted butter with graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, sugar, and an egg white and press the mixture into a springform pan. I know the egg white might seem odd but I discovered that it helps bind the crust better. It also helps to chill the crust before baking so pop it in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
The cheesecake filling is a fairly standard recipe, using cream cheese, eggs, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. However, we're going to fold in caramelized honey to amp up the flavors.
To make caramelized honey, all you have to do is simmer the honey with a touch of water and lemon juice. Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly until it starts to simmer. Once it begins to simmer, stop stirring and let it slowly turn a deep brown color. The process is almost like making caramel, letting the sugars brown and almost take on a nutty aroma. It's absolutely beautiful.
Let the caramelized honey cool slightly but don't let it cool completely. If it gets cold, it will solidify, making it harder to mix into the cream cheese filling. But don't worry if your honey does get too firm. Just slowly reheat it over low heat on the stove until it liquefies and it should be fine.
Fold in ¾ of the honey into the cream cheese mixture and pour the filling into the crust. Then, swirl in the remaining honey on top, using a spatula to create a pretty pattern. I would advise against using a knife since that can create cracks in the cheesecake.
Wrap up the cheesecake pan with aluminum foil with two layers of foil (yes two layers!) and place it in a water bath with hot water. Bake the cheesecake for about 1 hour or until the edges have set. The center of the cheesecake will still be jiggly but shouldn't be too runny. It should jiggle like jello if that makes any sense.
Let the caramelized honey cheesecake cool in the oven with the door closed for about 5 hours and then continue chilling it overnight in the fridge.
While the cake is cooling, make the cherry compote. Simmer together pitted cherries with honey, lemon, water, and a pinch of salt until the fruit softens. Add the cornstarch slurry to thicken the juices and let it cool. You can also serve the compote while it's still warm.
Top the cheesecake with the cherry compote and serve!
I've made plenty of cheesecakes before but this one is currently ranking very high on my list. It hits all the marks with a rich chocolate crust, creamy filling with notes of caramel, and the slightly tangy cherry compote. Really it doesn't get any better than this!
For more cheesecake inspiration check out these grapefruit curd cheesecake bars!