Caramel Swirl Cheesecake Cupcakes start with smooth and creamy cheesecake over a simple graham cracker crust, then they are topped with a swirl of caramel sauce just before baking.
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, about 10 crackers worth (gluten free crackers work fine)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar
24 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Homemade Caramel Sauce – see below..
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and butter. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the crust mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Press down the mixture with a small measuring cup or the bottom of a drinking glass. Bake for 5 minutes and then remove from the oven.
Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Add the sugar and beat for about a minute to combine. Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one a time. Beating until the mixture is smooth again between each egg. Scoop 3-4 tablespoons of the filling over the slightly cooled crusts. Smooth slightly or tap the tray to spread across the crusts. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of caramel over the top of each cupcake and then swirl lightly with a toothpick.
Bake for 22 minutes and then remove from the oven. The cupcakes will be puffy and rounded when you remove them from the oven, they will sink as they cool. Let cool at room temperature for about an hour. Then transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours. Drizzle with warm caramel sauce just before serving, if desired. Enjoy!
Homemade Caramel Sauce
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of kosher salt
In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and the water. Stir to combine and then cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves; about 4-5 minutes. There is no need to stir, simply swirl the pan over the burner occasionally as the sugar dissolves.
Raise the heat to medium high and cook the sauce, swirling the pan occasionally, until it is amber colored; about 7-8 minutes. Add the butter, be prepared for it to bubble and sputter, lightly stir or swirl to melt, do not scrape the sides of the pan or splash sauce up the sides of the pan. (This will cause crystallization, if you scrape the uncooked sugars back into the sauce.)
Once the butter is melted, remove from the heat and add the vanilla, heavy cream and salt. It will bubble again, but will calm quickly. Stir to combine (again, not scraping sides of the pan) and then let cool before transferring to a jar and refrigerating for storage. Enjoy!