Since we've nixed the baking (even of the crust), you save tons of time; you don't have to wait for the cheesecake to cool out of the oven. Make the cheesecake up to 3 days ahead, but prepare the caramel shortly before serving. It hardens quickly to a yummy praline-like texture.
16 low-fat honey graham crackers (4 large cracker sheets)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
12 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
12 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup crème fraîche
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold water
2 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
How to Make It
To prepare crust, place crackers in a food processor; process until finely ground. With motor running, add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons melted butter to cracker crumbs through food chute; process until blended. Place crumb mixture in a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray; press evenly into bottom of pan. Freeze 20 minutes or until firm.
To prepare cheesecake, combine cheeses, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and crème fraîche in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Combine 3 tablespoons cold water and gelatin; let stand 2 minutes or until gelatin dissolves. Heat milk in a small saucepan to 180° (do not boil). Stir gelatin mixture into hot milk, stirring well. Beat gelatin mixture into cheese mixture. Pour cheese mixture into prepared crust; chill 2 hours or until set.
To prepare the caramel, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and next 3 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt); stir with a whisk just until sugar melts. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes (do not stir). Remove pan from heat. Stir in bourbon and toasted pecans. Cool slightly.
Slice cheesecake into 16 wedges. Place 1 wedge on each of 16 plates; drizzle 1 tablespoon caramel over each serving.
The crust was really good but the cheesecake part tasted mostly like plain cream cheese to me. Made this for Thanksgiving and the others agreed. If I make it again, I'll add more vanilla extract and sugar than it calls for. The pecan caramel was good; didn't blow me away though.
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