No-Bake Turtle Cheesecake

To give a little background on why this is my favorite Thanksgiving dessert, I have to go back at least a decade. During the holidays, my mother always tries to make everyone’s favorites.  For my brother, it is her brandy butter sweet potatoes.  He is in love with them.  As a matter of fact, he likes them so much, she always makes an extra one for him to take home.  And, even though Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, for years, I had no dish to identify me – I felt left out!  

Despite the fact that my mom always tries to make everyone’s favorite for Thanksgiving, she gets bored cooking the same thing every year, so she always tries to add a new dish, or varies an old favorite.  One year, she tried something different for dessert; Turtle Cheesecake.  After that, nothing was the same. I expected it every year because it was just so good, and I was extremely disappointed if it wasn’t made.  As Thanksgiving approaches, I always make a point to ensure that it is being prepared, because the holiday just isn’t the same without this sweet treat.  At last, I found my favorite holiday food!

Each year my mom looks for a different way to prepare this amazing dessert.  I don’t know why, but she always feels the need to change it up.  This season, she found an online recipe and played around with it to make a slight variation. A lot of recipes for Turtle Cheesecake call for pecans on top, but I have never really been a fan of nuts on cheesecake. I like pecans but not both of them together, so she leaves them off.   She also changed the caramel variation to use caramel candy squares instead of sauce. And, since she is really busy this year, she thought she would try a non-bake recipe to save time on meal prep.  

Click Here for the link to the original recipe

Our variation:

Use a 9-inch spring form pan

For the Crust:

For the Filling

First, fill the the Ziploc bag, with the 1 package of graham crackers. Crush them until the crumbs are fine and there are no chunks. Then, pour the crumbs into a class bowl to measure.  I found that the one pack of crackers was perfect amount, however,  if you crush too many, just discard, or save for garnish on top.

Heat the butter in the microwave until melted, mine was around 25 seconds, but it can vary depending on how long your butter has been out. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix all together using a fork.  Make sure it is completely mixed. Spread the mix around the pan until it is around the edges and is a flat surface (you might want to use your fingers or a spoon to spread the mixture).

Now, here is where the recipe can get a little dicey. You need to make sure you cream cheese has had time to sit out and soften, it can really make a big difference in the texture of what you are about to mix. When it is time, put both packages of cream cheese in and start the process on a low setting. One thing my mom does is do one package regular cream cheese and one reduced fat cream cheese to alter the fat content of the cheesecake.  Make sure that your cream cheese is completely smooth and lump free before you go to the next step.

After you stir the cream cheese is smooth, (this takes about five minutes or so), add the milk and mix for another few minutes followed by the brown sugar. After those mixed thoroughly, mix in the instant vanilla pudding. For this, only blend for two minutes max and then stop the mixing.

After you stop the mixing process, be prepared to pour the cream cheese mix into the pan. Since you are using instant pudding, you will need to be prepared to pour it quickly before it begins to set.  You will also need to have something available to spread it evenly in the pan, as this is a crucial step in keeping the shape intact. Once the entire mix is spread evenly it is time for the sauce.

It is best if the chocolate sauce is put on first. The best way to do this is use regular spoon teaspoon. Scoop about 3 or 4 scoops in 3 evenly placed spots on the surface, then, using a knife, cut the mixture into the cake in swirling strokes until the surface is covered. Try not to be heavy handed so that you don’t destroy the surface.

The final step is the caramel sauce. Melt 6 Kraft Caramel Candy squares, with approximately, 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of butter for 25 seconds in the microwave, stir and put in for another 15 seconds. If mixture is too thick, add a little more butter. I think you get a much flavor by doing this instead of the caramel sauce.  Using caramel candy can be tricky because it hardens very quickly so you will have to drizzle it rather fast.  You can also follow the recipe and use caramel ice cream topping which is easier to use. 

After you finish adding the caramel drizzle, wrap up the cheese cake and stick it in the fridge for 3 hours.  Before serving, carefully release the spring form and gently, with the aid of a wide spatula transfer the cheese cake to a plate.  Enjoy with your favorite espresso!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank you for reading!

-Todd

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