When Lauren Mitterer learned New Charleston Cuisine was supposed to capture the Charleston food scene at this particular moment, a few ingredients immediately sprang to her mind. Mitterer, who operates two bakery locations and supplies the sweets for countless weddings, is living in a salted caramel world. Additionally, she says, bourbon and pecans are king.
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
6 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
6 large eggs
¾ cup purchased salted caramel sauce, such as Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s Salty Caramel Sauce or cook’s preference, divided use
2 tablespoons bourbon
12 pralines, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in bowl of a food processor or stand mixer. Blend until crumbs stick together. Press crumbs onto the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. If an outer edge of crust is desired, press crumbs up 2 inches on the sides. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. In the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix cream cheese until soft. Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt; mix on low until very smooth. Remove the bowl from the mixer; scrape the sides of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer. Slowly add eggs just until blended, stopping occasionally to scrape sides of bowl. Carefully add and fold ½ cup of salted caramel sauce and bourbon into the mixture. Pour batter into crust.
Wrap foil around the outside of cheesecake pan. Place a sheet tray or larger pan underneath the wrapped cheesecake. Slowly add water to the pan to create a water bath approximately 2 inches deep.
Carefully place the cheesecake in the oven. Bake until its center is set and the rest of the cake has a uniform jiggle, at least 50 minutes.
Start checking the cake after 30 minutes. If the top gets too dark, gently cover with foil. Remove cake from the oven as well as the water bath pan. Cool to room temperature, and then cool completely in the refrigerator. When ready to remove from the pan, gently run a knife around the outside edge of the cheesecake and unlock the springform. Cover the top with ¼ cup of caramel sauce and chopped pralines. Cut and serve from the bottom pan or carefully slide a cardboard cake circle underneath.
Excerpted from New Charleston Cuisine: 50 Defining Dishes from the Holy City’s Top Kitchens, by Hanna Raskin. Recipe by Lauren Mitterer of WildFlour Pastry.