Caramel-macadamia cheesecake

My new favourite cheesecake recipe!

I may just have fallen in love with cheesecake all over again. My new romance began when I flipped a page in Ottolenghi: The cookbook and saw a jaw-droppingly gorgeous cake staring me in the face. A quick scan of the recipe – oatmeal cookie crust, caramel sauce and macadamia nuts – and I was smitten. Two of the things I love about this version is that it is not too sweet and the crunchy nuts add a lovely counterpoint of texture to the creamy cheesecake. Although the recipe below is very close to the original, I have tweaked a few of the ingredient quantities and tried to simplify a few of the steps. Please don’t be daunted by the length of the recipe as the simply stellar toppings are not hard to make and I can honestly say I may never use another cheesecake recipe again because this one is just out of this world.


For the cheesecake:

  • 2 1/3 cups (590 mL) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (140 mL) white sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla pod OR 1/2 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla bean paste
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) sour cream
  • icing or confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

For the crust:

  • 6 ounces (170 grams) crisp oatmeal cookies (storebought ones are fine!)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) butter, melted

For the candied macadamia nuts:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) macadamia nuts
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons (120 mL) white sugar

For the caramel sauce:

  • 5 tablespoons (75 mL) butter
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) white sugar
  • 7 tablespoons (105 mL) whipping or heavy (35%) cream


  • Preheat the oven to 275F.
  • Toast the macadamia nuts on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes until they are golden. Remove and set aside.
  • While nuts are roasting, grease the sides of an 8 inch (20 cm) springform pan with butter. Cut a circle of parchment paper 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) larger than the bottom of the pan and use it to line the pan, smoothing the excess up the sides of the pan.


  • Put the cookies in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the crumbs look like coarse sand (alternatively, put the cookies in a zip lock bag and crush with a rolling pin).
  • Add the melted butter and mix well by pulsing a few more times (or stirring together).
  • Pat the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared springform pan.


  • Put the softened cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one). Beat vigorously until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds into the mixing bowl or add the vanilla bean paste to the bowl.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Add the sour cream and beat until smooth and creamy.
  • Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 65 – 70 minutes or until the cheesecake has set in the middle (test by inserting a skewer or toothpick in the centre; it should come out with some wet crumbs attached but not a gooey liquid).
  • Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
  • Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for two hours; this will make it easier to carefully remove the springform band, lift the cake by the parchment paper and transfer it, discarding parchment, to a serving plate.

Candied macadamias:

  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Place the sugar in a large saucepan with a very thick bottom, making sure the sugar is in a very thin layer not more than 1/8 inch (3mm) thick (select a larger pan if necessary).
  • Heat the sugar over medium-low heat until it turns a golden brown colour – watch it closely to be sure it does not burn!
  • Do not stir at any time but you can gently swirl the pan if you would like to try to dissolve all the sugar (but it’s fine if there are a few undissolved bits).
  • Once the sugar has caramelized, carefully but quickly add the toasted nuts and stir with a wooden spoon until they are evenly coated.
  • Pour the coated nuts onto the lined baking tray and allow to cool.
  • When cooled, break or cut the nut brittle into pieces, leaving some nuts whole while halving others. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Caramel sauce:

  • Put the butter and sugar in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan.
  • Over medium heat, stir constantly for 7 – 10 minutes until the mixture becomes a dark golden, smooth caramel. It will look granular for a long time before it starts to turn brown and melt.
  • Once the desired colour is reached, carefully add the cream, (it will bubble up and steam) stirring vigorously until the cream is fully incorporated.
  • Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes before transferring to a heatproof jug or glass jar. It will thicken as it cools.

To serve:

  • Dust the sides and edges of the top of the chilled cheesecake with the icing sugar.
  • Gently reheat the caramel sauce in the microwave just until it is soft enough to pour (you don’t want it to be too hot).
  • Top the cake with about 2/3 of the caramel sauce, drizzling some down the sides. Save the rest of the sauce to eat later, by yourself, with a spoon.
  • Scatter the candied macadamia nuts all over the top of the cake and cut into slices.

Serves 8 – 10.

Notes: The cheesecake can be made a day ahead; store in the fridge and add toppings just before serving.  Leftovers (though you’re unlikely to have any) will keep for another two days.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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