Whiskey-Caramel Cheesecake Bars


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INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • For the Whiskey Caramel:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the Cheesecake:

  • 1½ pounds (three 8-ounce packages) room-temperature cream cheese
  • ½ cup room-temperature sour cream
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 room-temperature eggs
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

METHOD:

1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350º. In a medium bowl, mix the crust ingredients until the crumbs are evenly coated in butter. Add the crumbs to a parchment-lined 9-inch square pan and press in an even layer with your fingers. Bake until the crust is lightly golden, 12 to 14 minutes, then set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, make the whiskey caramel: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the caramel is amber in color, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining caramel ingredients until smooth, then set aside.

3. Make the cheesecake: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. With the motor running, add the eggs, one at a time, and scrape the bowl as needed, until well incorporated. Add the remaining cheesecake ingredients and beat until incorporated.

4. Pour the cheesecake batter over the cooled crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle the caramel over the cheesecake, then use the tip of a small knife to swirl the caramel into the batter. Bake until golden brown and set, 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, then chill for 1 hour before cutting into squares and serving.

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