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Easter isn’t complete without something sweet

Easter in Durban is, for some, a time for religious traditions, and for others, about the joy of watching kids in happy hysterics on adventurous chocolate egg hunts. But come the end of the day, following any family meal, many will agree, a chocolate dessert is usually at the heart of the table.

A simple, honest and sentimental farm girl, originally from the North Coast, Chef Julia Greenaway, principal of Capsicum Culinary Studio and single mom of two children, is a huge fan of a good baked cheesecake, and how easily it brings friends and family together around the table.

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“No one ever turns down a piece of cheesecake LOL! Especially one that’s loaded with caramel and chocolate and, even more so, at Easter time. I try, at home and in life, to encourage everyone and anyone to cook; it’s about participation and learning, but mostly for the overwhelming self-pride and sense of achievement you feel by making something yourself. Which is why I love to offer up a special treat when the opportunity arises to make or bake something delicious. And if you are presenting to others something that is not only eye candy, mouth-watering and crowd pleasing, but also easy enough for them to make at home, this becomes a building block or starting point for others too, to fall in love with food craft. In this light, I would love to share the recipe for my favourite Caramel Pecan Chocolate Cheesecake. It is a dessert that reminds me of my childhood, my favourite Easter eggs – Cadbury’s Crème Eggs – and home, because I have a pecan nut tree in my garden. Happy baking! I do hope you will all enjoy this treat.”

Caramel Pecan Chocolate Cheesecake

You will need:
 
For the Crust:
1 packet Bakers Cream Crackers (200g)
70ml melted butter
Filling:
500g smooth cream cheese
160g castor sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large eggs
1 large egg (yolk only)
75ml heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp. cocoa powder

For the Caramel Sauce:
Melt together 250g brown sugar and 4tbsp butter. Once the sugar has dissolved, add 100ml cream. Allow to thicken on a gentle heat, remove from heat and add ½ tsp vanilla essence.
TIP: Double this caramel recipe, pour into a squeeze bottle when cooled and keep in the fridge. You can add it to other yummy desserts.

Method
Use an 8 inch loose bottom baking tin. Butter the tin lightly and line with baking paper. Set your oven to 160°C. Mix your ingredients for the crust together and press into the bottom of the tin. Combine cream cheese, castor sugar and salt. Beat with a hand-held beater until smooth (approx. 3 minutes). Whisk the eggs and yolk together, add to the cream cheese mixture, and beat until incorporated together (approx. 30 seconds). Add the cream, cocoa powder and vanilla essence. Mix again until the batter is a smooth consistency. Bake in a water bath until the centre of the cakes are set (approx. 45mins to an hour). Cool completely, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate overnight until fully set. To remove the cheesecake from the tin, warm the bottom and sides of the tin with an open flame or your hands. Run a knife around the edges. Remove the baking paper. Place the lightly roasted pecan nut halves (approx. 1 cup) on top of the cheesecake (optional). Drizzle the caramel sauce over when serving.

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