Every Christmas I make it my mission to make at least one new festive dessert. I'm constantly thinking of new ideas during the year so the biggest challenge is picking just one or two. One dessert that's been on my list for a long time now is basque cheesecake. This year I decided it was finally time to check it off. To give the decadent cake a holiday spin, I flavored it with the most delicious caramel. One bite of this mulled wine caramel basque cheesecake and I felt like I was in holiday heaven.
Mulled Wine Caramel Basque Cheesecake
- ½ cup water plus 2 tablespoons, divided
- ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided (150 grams)
- 1 large orange
- ¾ cup cranberries (3 ounces)
- 2 sprigs rosemary
Mulled wine caramel
- 1 cup apple cider (250 ml)
- ¾ cup red wine (187 ml)
- 1 cup heavy cream (250 ml)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- ½ cup corn syrup (170 grams)
- ¼ cup butter (57 grams)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 ½ lb cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 8 ounces mascarpone, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups mulled wine caramel (420 grams)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour, sifted (37 grams)
- Make candied orange zest. Peel orange skin with peeler and cut into thin strips. Combine ½ cup water with ¼ cup sugar and orange peel in a medium saucepot. Bring to a simmer over low heat and continue to simmer for 20 minutes or until peel is softened. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Lay orange peel on wire rack and let sit for 15 minutes. Toss with 2 tablespoons sugar until well coated and spread on parchment paper to dry completely.
- Make candied cranberries and rosemary. Combine 2 tablespoons water with 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepot. Bring to a simmer over low heat and continue to simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add cranberries, stirring for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to parchment paper. Add rosemary to simple syrup and stir for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to parchment paper. Let dry for 1 hour. Roll cranberries and rosemary in remaining ¼ cup sugar to coat. Set aside.
- Make mulled wine caramel. Combine apple cider and red wine in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until liquid is reduced to ¼ cup.
- Combine reduced wine with heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, butter, and orange zest in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue to cook caramel until temperature reaches 225 degrees F. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Transfer to a heat safe bowl and let cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Trim parchment paper so that it comes up 2 inches above the pan on all sides. Grease with butter.
- Beat cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating the egg before adding the next. Add heavy cream, 1 ½ cups mulled wine caramel, salt, and vanilla, mixing until well combined. Add sifted flour and mix until smooth.
- Pour cheesecake into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour or until the edges are set but the center cheesecake is still jiggly. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- Garnish mulled wine caramel basque cheesecake with candied orange, cranberries, and rosemary. Serve with warm mulled wine caramel on the side.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
So what's the difference between a basque cheesecake and a regular cheesecake? The obvious answer is that basque cheesecake has a caramelized, almost burnt exterior and no crust. Unlike a regular cheesecake, the filling is creamy, not dense. Not to mention, it's easier to bake because you don't need a water bath. This mulled wine caramel basque cheesecake requires a couple more steps because of the caramel, but it'll be worth it. I promise.
To make the mulled wine caramel, first, reduce red wine and apple cider. I chose to combine apple cider with red wine because that's how I make my mulled wine. It also helps balance the flavors so that the caramel doesn't have an overwhelming wine flavor.
Combine the reduced wine and apple cider with corn syrup, sugar, heavy cream, butter, and orange zest in a medium heavy-bottomed pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to cook until the temperature reaches 225 degrees F. Then, turn off the flames and stir in the warm spices. The caramel won't look as thick while hot but it will thicken as it cools.
Feel free to make the caramel up to 3 days in advance.
I can eat this caramel just by itself, it's so delicious.
While you're waiting for the caramel to cool, prepare your springform pan. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper, making sure the paper comes up 2 inches on all sides. Basque cheesecakes are meant to have crinkled edges so don't worry if your parchment paper isn't perfectly arranged.
Just like regular cheesecakes, we're going to first beat the cream cheese with mascarpone and sugar until smooth and creamy.
It's important that the cream cheese, mascarpone, eggs, and caramel are all at room temperature to ensure a smooth cheesecake. The caramel should be cooled but not cold. If you made it the day before, just take it out of the fridge when you take out the cream cheese and mascarpone.
Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating them before adding the next. Then, add the heavy cream, caramel, salt, and vanilla. We're only using 1 ½ cups of the caramel which should leave you with extra - don't worry because we're going to serve it with the cheesecake later on.
Stir in the sifted flour and pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared pan. Bake the mulled wine caramel basque cheesecake for about 50 minutes or until the edges are set. The center of the cheesecake should still be very jiggly.
Let the dessert cool completely before serving.
Now the garnishes are completely optional but I had to complete the holiday cake with the appropriate look. And what could be more perfect than candied orange peel, cranberries, and rosemary? These take at least an hour to dry so I made them the day before.
Top the cheesecake with the beautiful garnishes and serve it with warm mulled wine caramel on the side. If you want to take it to the next level you can even serve this cake with mulled wine.
I was over the moon with this basque cheesecake. The cheesecake itself has a very subtle mulled wine caramel flavor but it's still present. The pop of the candied cranberries added a fun twist and the finishing caramel on top was like a chef's kiss. Without a doubt worth all the calories!
For more cheesecake inspiration check out this caramelized honey cheesecake with cherry compote!
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