This Turtle Cheesecake features a rich dark chocolate ganache, creamy caramel, and a velvety vanilla cheesecake with salted roasted pecans. This cheesecake may seem daunting, but it is easier than it looks! Follow the step-by-step tutorial for the perfect cheesecake!
Hey there, fellow dessert enthusiast! If you’re ready to embark on a culinary adventure that’s as delightful to make as it is to eat, I’ve got a treat for you: Turtle Cheesecake! Imagine a symphony of creamy cheesecake, luscious caramel, and decadent chocolate, all coming together to create a dessert masterpiece. This recipe is not just about baking; it’s about creating moments of pure joy and indulgence. So, gather your ingredients, put on your favorite apron, and let’s dive into the sweet world of Turtle Cheesecake magic! Get ready to impress your taste buds and anyone lucky enough to join you at the table. Grab a fork (or a shovel – we don’t judge)
As always, this is a quick overview of the ingredients needed to make this chocolate caramel cheesecake recipe. For the complete, printable recipe, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Cream Cheese: the star of the show, of course! I recommend full-fat Philadephia cream cheese for this recipe.
- Sour Cream: Full-fat or light sour cream works in this recipe.
- Sweetener: If you are not watching your carbs, a traditional granular or confectioner sweetener will work here. If you are low-carb or keto, please use monkfruit.
- Eggs: large eggs are used in this recipe, and we always recommend using room-temperature eggs to help prevent cracks in the cheesecake.
- Melted Butter: salted or unsalted butter can be used; this is an integral part of keeping the crust together and having that wonderful buttery flavor we all love!
- Almond Flour: this is used in the crust.
- Sugar-Free Chocolate Chips: of course, if you aren’t worried about carbs, traditional chocolate chips work beautifully.
- Heavy Cream: this is used with the chocolate chips to make an ultra-rich, creamy ganache.
- Pecans: pecans get a lot of star time in this recipe because they are used in the crust as well as toasted and sprinkled on top.
- Vanilla Extract: adds depth and flavor to the recipe; you simply cannot make a creamy cheesecake without it, in my opinion!
- Caramel: if you are not low-carb, you can use any caramel you wish; this can be homemade or store-bought. If you are low-carb, we will be using this keto caramel sauce; it is so rich and amazing!
How to Make Turtle Cheesecake
In addition to the ingredients listed above, you will need a springform pan, a few mixing bowls, and an electric mixer. I’ve documented the entire process from the crust to the drizzle, so follow the guide below to make this amazing turtle cheesecake recipe!
Make the Crust
The first step is to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and mix and press the crust. For this recipe, we aren’t using cookie crumbs (though if you prefer that method, I have included notes in the recipe card.) Instead, we are combining almond flour, crushed pecans, sweetener, and butter to make a nutty, buttery crust you will love. I use a food processor to make this come together in a matter of seconds.
When your pecan and butter mixter resembles course crumbs, line a 9 inch springform pan with parchement paper. Lightly spray the bottom with cooking oil, but be sure to oil the sides well. Press the crust into an even layer along the bottom of the pan and set aside.
Add the room-temperature cream cheese and sweetener to a medium bowl. Using the electric mixer beat the cream cheese until it is well combined. Next, add the sour cream and pure vanilla extract; mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed just until blended. When the mixer is nice and smooth, use a spatula and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Blend the mixer one more time, but do not overheat it, or you will add air to the cheesecake, and it will result in a cheesecake that cracks.
Bake and Chill
Pour the smooth cheesecake mixture over the crust and spread the top smooth. Now, you can use a water bath if you wish. However, I prefer to put a casserole dish with 1 inch of water in my oven as my cheesecake cooks. This creates a humid environment which cheesecakes love. However, you do not risk a leak in your springform pan and a soggy, ruined cheesecake.
Bake the cheesecake for one hour, up to one hour and 10 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Once the cheesecake is done, turn the oven off and crack the oven door for 5 minutes. This helps to allow the cheesecake to adjust to a temperature change without cracking. After 5 minutes, remove from the oven and let the cheesecake cool. Run a knife along the sides of the pan to help loosen the cake, but do not remove it from the pan. Allow the cheesecake to come to room temperature, then chill at least 2 hours before serving.
One hour before serving, make the chocolate ganache layer. This is so simple and so much better than any store-bought chocolate sauce. Simply bring the heavy cream to a boil. Immediately pour the piping hot cream over the chocolate chips, do not stir yet. Cover and let the mixture sit for two minutes. After two minutes, whisk until a smooth, creamy chocolate sauce forms. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly, and carefully pour in an even layer over the cheesecake. Chill for 20 minutes.
Homemade Caramel Sauce
This is the recipe I use to make the homemade caramel sauce. It is rich, delicious, and also happens to be sugar free. If you aren’t worried about cutting carbs, you can use your favorite store-bought or homemade caramel made with brown sugar.
Once the ganache has set, drizzle the cheesecake with the caramel sauce and chopped pecans. You can serve this with extra caramel sauce and roasted pecans if desired. This rich cheesecake batter will have all of the traits you love from traditional turtle candies!
Tips for the Best Turtle Cheesecake
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Ensure that your cream cheese, eggs, and other dairy ingredients are at room temperature before starting. This helps in achieving a smooth and well-blended cheesecake batter.
- Avoid Overmixing: Once you start combining the ingredients for the cheesecake filling, avoid overmixing. Overmixing can introduce too much air into the batter, potentially causing cracks during baking.
- Cover: If you find your cheesecake is browning too quickly, you can loosely cover it with aluminum foil or a pie shield.
- Patience is a Virtue: Allow the cheesecake to cool gradually. Once it’s done baking, turn off the oven, crack the oven door, and let it cool inside for an hour before moving it to the counter. This helps prevent sudden temperature changes that can lead to cracks.
- Chill Time: After the cheesecake has cooled at room temperature, refrigerate it for several hours or preferably overnight. This not only enhances the flavor but also allows the texture to set properly.
- Patience (Again!): Don’t rush the process. A good cheesecake is worth the wait. Let it cool and set properly before diving in. Your taste buds will thank you!
Do I need a water bath?
Cheesecakes like a humid environment; instead of baking in a water bath and risking water leaking through your pan, you can place a separate dish of hot water in the oven as the cheesecake cooks to achieve the same goal. This is not essential, but it does help create a cheesecake that doesn’t have cracks.
Can I use a cookie crust?
If you prefer a cookie crust, you can certainly do that instead. You will need 1 1/2 cups packed cookie crumbs, 2 tablespoons sweetener of choice, and 5 tablespoons of melted butter. Mix well and press into a parchment paper-lined springform pan. Follow the rest of the recipe as written. This adjustment works for Oreo cookies, shortbread cookies, or graham crackers.
Other Chesecake Recipes
- Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars: two of the best desserts in one!
- Cranberry Cheesecake Bars: these bars have layers of buttery shortbread crust, vanilla cheesecake, homemade cranberry sauce, and a crumble topping that is irresistible!
- Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars: if you love classic flavors, this one is for you!
- Mocha Cheesecake: is an ultra-decadent cheesecake with rich dark chocolate and espresso!
For the Keto Crust
- 1 cup almond flour
- 3/4 cup crushed pecans
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons Monkfruit sweetener
For the Butter Pecan Cheesecake
- 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup Monkfruit Sweetener (granular or confectioners)
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Topping
- 1 cup Lily's sugar free chocolate chips
- 1 cup heavy cream (piping hot)
- 1/2 cup Keto Caramel Sauce (link below)
- 1 ½ cup roasted, salted pecans
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Mix almond flour, crushed pecans, butter and monkfruit sweetener. Press onto the bottom of a parchment paper-lined 9-inch springform pan.
- Beat cream cheese and monkfruit sweetener with an electric mixture until well combined. Add sour cream and vanilla extract; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over the crust.
- Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 min. or until the center is almost set. Run a knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim.
- Refrigerate cheesecake 4 hours.
- One hour before serving, heat the heavy cream until it is piping hot and pour it over the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and allow it to sit 2 minutes. Stir the chocolate until a creamy sauce has formed and the chocolate is completely melted.
- Pour the chocolate ganache over the cheesecake and allow it to chill.
- Just before serving, top with roasted pecans and keto caramel sauce.
Baking Tip: Cheesecakes like a hot humid environment, instead of baking in a water bath and risking water leaking through your pan you can place a separate dish of water in the oven as the cheesecake cooks to achieve the same goal. This is not essential, but it does help create a cheesecake that doesn't have cracks.
This is the recipe for the Keto Caramel Sauce, be sure to read the notes regarding the sweetener so you get the perfect texture!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice (if using the low carb ingredient options listed above)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 453Total Fat: 41gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 108mgCarbohydrates: 11.5gNet Carbohydrates: 5.2gFiber: 6.3gSugar: 2.1gProtein: 7.7g