Custom Made & Built To Order Drum Smokers

baked New York cheesecake

Here is the recipe for my baked New York cheesecake with salted caramel and candied pecans that I cooked for the Chef's Choice category at Grillstock 2016.

Rich, creamy and delicious!

For the Cheesecake:

60g digestive biscuits
60g dark chocolate digestive biscuits
50g butter
A pinch of salt
600g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
200g sour cream
4 tbsp cornflour
150g caster sugar
Zest of ½ a lemon, finely grated
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large free-range eggs, at room temperature

260g -300g of salted caramel sauce:

We totally cheated with this part of the dish and used Tesco Finest salted caramel sauce as we didn't really fancy knocking up a fresh caramel on the bbq at the contest!

For the candied pecans:

2 handfuls of raw pecans

Bowl of icing or powdered sugar

Pinch of salt

Deep fat fryer 

Get your smoker set up for indirect cooking (we used our Steel Heat Diffuser) at 230f/110c. We found using wood chunks was a bit overpowering for this cook. If you want a slightly smokey flavour use lump wood charcoal. If you would like a more subtle, traditional tasting cheesecake Heat Bead briquettes work very well.

1.Blanch the raw nuts in salted boiling water for about a minute. Don’t stress too much about the timing or amount of salt here—just a quick blanch and a generous pinch of salt is fine. Strain.

2.Coat in icing sugar. Shake them up good so that the nuts have an even coating.

3.Deep-fry in any high-temp oil at 325f/163°C for about 5-8 minutes, or until the nuts start to float.

4.Lay them on a cooling rack and separate with a fork. Allow to cool until nice and glassy. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. They’ll keep for weeks.

5.Crush the biscuits by putting them into a freezer bag or something similar and hitting them with a rolling pin – you want to leave some larger chunks in there. You can also use a  food processor. Melt the butter in a small pan, then add the crumbs and a pinch of salt and mix well.

6.Spread the crumbs over the base of a tall 20cm non-stick springform tin, or alternatively you can use individual moulds if you have them handy (like we used in the pics).  Press down firmly with a glass until you have a well compacted, flat base. Set aside to firm up.

7.Put the room temperature cheese into a large bowl and stir with a whisk to soften it and get rid of any lumps. Mix in the sour cream, cornflour, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl beat the whole eggs together. Add them to the mixture, little by little, then beat just until the mixture is smooth.

8.Pour the mixture into the tin, and shake gently to level it leaving a little space at the top of the tin. You can run your finger gently over the top to get rid of any air bubbles. Put in the smoker and cook for about 1½ hours for a single large cheesecake, or around 1 hour for individual ones. The easiest way to tell if your cheesecake is ready is by checking the internal temperature with a digital probe thermometer (we use a Thermapen). You are looking for an internal core temperature of 150F/65c. The cheesecake should be set but still slightly wobbly in the middle. Take the cheesecake out of the smoker and allow to cool completely before putting in the fridge to firm up.

9.Once your cheesecake is set in the fridge you can add your caramel sauce. It helps to heat it up slightly to loosen it up. Put back in the fridge to set up again for 5-10 minutes.

10. Finally you can add your pecans to the top of the cheesecake. We like to used a mix of chopped and whole nuts.

This is the version we cooked at Grillstock:

baked new york cheesecake

And this is the home version: