Look at that tasty little gem. I almost forgot to make it.
Last year, I tried and tried to get a decent pretzel crust. But, I wasn't happy with the results. I tried adding nuts, cookie crumbs, flour...the key was really simple. Don't crush the pretzels to dust - leave them in smaller pieces. That's the only way it works.
Interestingly enough, I got this idea from a baby shower I attended. There was one of those jello pretzel salads there. It gave me the idea to simplify and rely on crushed pretzels instead of pretzel dust.
And, boy does it work! The pretzels add a little salty crunch, which magically made the chocolate taste better. Of course, I couldn't stop there. I had to add the salted caramel mousse I had been working on as well.
The mousse is dreamy on it's own. It's perfect on this cheesecake. As I stated in the recipe, I didn't make the caramel, although you can make yours. Since I was working on quite a few things caramel, I bought a brick of it. The stuff I bought is fantastic. I'm sure your home made will be as well :). I also sprinkled a little extra sea salt on top.
I do want to talk a little about portions. This cheesecake was made in a 6" pan - not a big one. It's easily doubled and will fit an 8 to 9" pan if doubled. I had leftover mousse, which disappeared from the refrigerator. I suspect it was eaten with a spoon at midnight, but that is a mystery!
For a pdf of this recipe, follow the linky. Enjoy!
Chocolate Cheesecake with pretzel crust and salted caramel mousse
This makes one 6” cheesecake, 2 mini’s, or 24 bite size
For the crust:
2 cups crushed pretzels (this is about ½ of a 16 ounce bag), don’t grind into fine powder.
5 T. butter, melted
1/3 c. sugar
½ t. cinnamon
Combine all ingredients, and press into the bottom of your pan(s). If you are doing bite size cheesecakes, about ½ tablespoon crust is perfect for bite size cheesecake pans, or a lined cupcake tin.
For the cheesecake:
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
½ c. cocoa powder
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
2 T. corn starch
2 T. coffee, or 1 t. espresso powder
Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, whip cream cheese for a minute or two, just to soften further. Add sugar, and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl to make sure your batter is consistent. Add remaining ingredients, and mix for 2 minutes to get a smooth, consistent batter. Spoon over crust.
Bake in 350 oven for 40 minutes for 6”, 30 minutes for mini’s, and 15-25 minutes for bite size. Cool to room temperature. Garnish with salted caramel mousse.
Salted Caramel Mousse
8 oz caramel (I bought mine, but you can make yours!)
2 cups heavy cream
½ t. sea salt
In a medium size bowl, microwave caramel until hot, but not boiling. Whisk in 1 cup heavy cream. Continue whisking until no lumps remain. If you struggle with lumps, microwave in 10 second increments, just to get a smooth cream, do NOT boil.
Refrigerate mixture at least 1 hour. Add remaining cream and sea salt, and beat until soft peaks form. Chill until ready to use.