Luscious Carrot Cake Cheesecake (cake and cheesecake all in one!)

The original recipe states that this is The Cheesecake Factory’s Carrot Cake Cheesecake.  Considering that I’ve never had their cheesecake I cannot vouch for the accuracy of that statement.  So, I’ll simply call this Carrot Cake Cheesecake.

First, a word about cheesecake:  do not be intimidated.  Too many people don’t make cheesecake because they’re afraid of it.  There is nothing to be afraid of.  I find cheesecake to be very forgiving.  Seldom do I do a water bath in the oven.  My solution to a cracked cheesecake (because mine always crack…I think it’s a natural thing)?  Topping!

I’ve been the maker of cheesecake in my family for years.  Years and years. Usually only made for holidays.  Eggnog, vanilla bean with a cran-raspberry topping, pecan, German chocolate, peppermint, pumpkin, lemon, raspberry swirl, cinnamon roll. The list is extensive and ongoing.  My brother has come to expect cheesecake if my husband and I are around for the holidays.  He’s famous for taking a wedge larger than any one person can (should?) eat, eating the whole thing and then complaining that he has a cheese gut-ache.  I take it as a compliment.  Though he probably doesn’t know it, but when I’m taking a cheesecake home I always think to myself, “What kind of cheesecake would my brother like?” I made a peppermint cheesecake one time.  He didn’t care for it. I’ve never made peppermint since.  To me, food is love.  And every cheesecake I make for my big brother is made because I love him…and neither of us are good at telling each other that.

The Carrot Cake Cheesecake was made with love for family that came to our house for Easter dinner.  It’s definitely not your average cheesecake.  It’s carrot cake. And cheesecake. Together.  In one moist, creamy, amazing dessert.  It’s dessert on steroids.  It causes eye rolling (in a good way) and swooning and, sometimes, plate licking.  Have no shame.  Lick that plate.

A big, big thank you to Mary over at Sifting Focus for posting this recipe for me to find, to make, to love.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

The Cheesecake:

16 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tblsp flour
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

The Carrot Cake:

3/4 c vegetable oil
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 generous pinch of salt
1 ( 8 1/2 oz) can crushed pineapple, well drained with juice reserved
1 c grated carrots
1/2 c flaked coconut
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tblsp butter, softened
1 3/4 c powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tblsp reserved pineapple juice (I used milk because I forgot to reserve the juice)
Dash of salt

A word about sugar.  I know that baking emphasizes exactness to ensure that recipes turn out.  I get that.  I appreciate that.  And sometimes my failure to toe that line results in…failure.  But, I’ve not experienced that with cheesecake so I’m going to tell you that I cut the amount of sugar called for in just about every cheesecake recipe I make.  And cookies. And muffins.  And…you get the idea.  I will speak for this recipe and say that I cut the sugar by 1/4 c in the cheesecake and 1/4 c in the carrot cake and it was still richly sweet.

Grease a springform pan and set aside.  I always wrap my springform in foil and set it on a cookie sheet to bake.  Otherwise, if you have a super-buttery crust you’re going to have a super-buttery (super-smoky) oven.

Using a hand mixer (or a KitchenAid stand mixer), beat together the cream cheese, sugar and flour.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.  Don’t overbeat the eggs, it can add air to your cheesecake causing it to puff way up…and collapse. But, what do you do if the top of your cheesecake isn’t pretty?  That’s right, topping!

I used a hand mixer on this recipe rather than the big KitchenAid.  Because I bought a shiny red KitchenAid hand mixer. It works like a dream and is pretty, pretty.

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Set aside your cheesecake batter.  In a separate large bowl mix oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Measure the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a separate container.  Slowly add into the wet ingredients.

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Stir in the pineapple, carrots, coconut and walnuts.041

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Spread 1 1/2 c carrot cake batter into the bottom of the springform pan.  Drop large spoonfuls of cheesecake batter on top of the carrot cake batter.  Top with large dollops of remaining carrot cake batter.  Finish with large blobs of the remaining cheesecake batter. Don’t marble your batter!

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Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hr.  A done cheesecake will still have a little bit of jiggle in the middle.  Shortly after pulling out of the oven I run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to help loosen it.  For some reason I think this may keep it from cracking so much.  I can’t vouch for this.

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Refrigerate.  I usually make my cheesecake the day before to ensure it gets a really good chill.  Also, cheesecakes freeze really well (hold toppings/frostings until defrosted and ready to serve).

Use a mixer to combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk (or pineapple juice).  Beat until smooth.  Frost the top of the cheesecake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Here’s a real-life kitchen when frosting is being made:

006Here’s the cheesecake on the plate waiting to be frosted.  Note the cracks.  Note the perfect looking frosted cheesecake.  It’s all good.  Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the sliced cheesecake.  We were busy enjoying Easter and I forgot.

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