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Get a Head Start on Holiday Baking with Cheesecake

This is one of my favorites. Scrumptious Turtle Cheesecake is so good that you’ll need to make two just so you get a sliver!


We all have favorites when it comes to holiday desserts. The traditional pumpkin, sweet potato and cream pies, and decadent desserts such as Italian Cream Cake, Red Velvet Cake, and cheesecake.

Although many love to eat cheesecake, few will try baking one on their own. It’s really not as difficult as you may think. 

The techniques are simple.  If you follow instructions carefully and pay attention to details, you will bake an impressive cheesecake on your first try.

Prepping your ingredients

Preparation is one of the most important aspects of making a cheesecake. All ingredients must be at room temperature; they will mix more easily, and the finished cake will have a smoother texture.

Begin by combining the cream cheese or ricotta and eggs thoroughly before adding any liquid extracts, heavy cream or sour cream.  Once the liquid ingredients that thin the batter are added, lumps are almost impossible to remove.

The paddle attachment of an electric mixer is ideal for mixing the batter.  If you do not have a paddle attachment, use regular beaters at low or medium-low speeds.  Too much air mixed into the batter will result in cracks in the finished cake, or a cake which is less creamy.

Use the right ingredients

One of the most important ingredients in most cheesecakes is the cream cheese.  Cream cheese comes in many different varieties.  Always use regular cream cheese for cheesecakes, unless the recipe specifies otherwise.

Just as important as the cream cheese is the base or crust.  Usually, the base is made of a mixture of cookie crumbs and softened or melted margarine.  Although many recipes call for graham cracker crumbs, almost any cookie will do. 

After the crust and cream cheese filling, what’s next?  With a spoon or rubber spatula, spoon the filling into the prepared spring form pan.  Spooning the filling will allow the ingredients to maintain their texture and volume.

Cracked crusts

Even when you  follow the recipe perfectly, there are times when cracks will still appear in your cheesecake. This happens when there are extreme temperature changes. That is why baking temperatures for cheesecakes are relatively low; and bakers are often warned not to set cheesecakes in a cold or drafty place to cool.  If possible, cool the cheesecake in an oven which has been turned off.  Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven slightly ajar.

Shallow cracks often occur despite all efforts to prevent them.  Accept them as part of a cheesecake’s home-baked charm. Just add a topping to it and you will be the only one who knows.   Follow the above mentioned tips and you should produce perfect results.

This is one of my favorites. Scrumptious Turtle Cheesecake is so good that you’ll need to make two just so you can get at least a sliver!

Scrumptious Turtle Cheesecake

  • 1 3/4 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup (9 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate flavor syrup
  • 4 tablespoons caramel syrup or ice cream topping
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet morsels

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Grease 9 inch springform pan.  To make the crust, mix crumbs and butter in a medium bowl.  Press on to the bottom and 1 inch up the side of the springform pan.

For the filling, beat cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in large mixer bowl until smooth.  Add sugar, eggs, lemon juice and vanilla extract; beat just until combined. Melt 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips in microwave until melted. Chips may retain some of their shape.  Remove two cups of the cheesecake batter and stir it into the melted chocolate chips. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce over bottom of the crust. Alternately spoon cream cheese batter and chocolate batter into the crust, beginning and ending with the cream cheese batter.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the edge is set and the center moves slightly. Cool in the pan on a wire rack, or in the oven with the door slightly ajar. Run knife around the edge of cheesecake. Once completely cooled, add your toppings. Drizzle chocolate and caramel syrup over the cheesecake. Sprinkle with pecans and mini-chocolate chips. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours to allow the flavors to meld together. Remove the side of the springform pan.

By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609

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