Salted Caramel Turtle Cheesecake

turtle cheesecake top

I know that January is the time for New Year, New You stuff, and a lot of us start new diets and workout plans. But it’s also the perfect opportunity to start the year with something we love, and for me, that usually involves DESSERT.

And so here we are, kicking off 2016 (a few days late) with an indulgent cheesecake.

Let me admit that making my first recipe for the year taught me a few lessons in patience and perseverance, but mostly, it reminded me that with cheesecake (and family members), perfection is not necessary. And in fact, sometimes rustic and homey might be better received.

Plus, this is a turtle cheesecake. With salted caramel and toasted pecans and dark chocolate chips. The crust made more luxurious by brown sugar and lots of butter. And the actual cheesecake is so smooth and creeaaaammmy. It’s hard to resist a slice.

salted caramel cheeseake

Sure, it took me three tries to get this cheesecake right, but it was all worth it. The first one had too much crust, too little cheesecake (I only used two packages of cream cheese, vs the three here). The second one was too sweet, like candy overload (I topped it with Rolo candies, and it was just too much). The third was just right.

Decadent and tangy, with a just-crumbly-enough crust, topped with a layer of salted caramel, pecans, and chocolate chips, then a thick and creamy cheesecake, topped with more salted caramel, chocolate chips, and… walnuts.

That’s right, I ran out of pecans for my turtle cheesecake (take note that “turtle” anything is typically caramel, pecans, ad chocolate). And so I used walnuts in the topping. Which I forgot to toast. Oops. But did any of my family members complain? Nah. They ate it all up. (They even ate the first two test batches).

cheesecake top

They didn’t care that the cheesecake was cracked.

trader joe salted caramel

They didn’t care that I used store-bought caramel.


They didn’t care that I just sprinkled on chocolate chips on top, instead of making a ganache, like most other turtle cheesecakes have.

caramel cheesecake

They didn’t care that I substituted non-toasted walnuts for the topping.

And that just made everything better. To me, all that mattered was that I welcomed the New Year with my family, eating imperfect cheesecake, happy to be surrounded by so much food and love and hope for another sweet year.

Yield: 1 cheesecake

Salted Caramel Turtle Cheesecake



2 cups finely ground graham crackers
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, melted


1/2 cup salted caramel sauce
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips


3 packages cream cheese
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce


1/4 cup salted caramel sauce
1/4 cup chopped pecan (or walnuts), toasted (or not)
1/4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F
  2. Make the crust. Mix graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Add melted butter; stir until well combined. Transfer crumb mixture to a buttered spring form pan, pressing evenly onto bottom. Bake until crust is lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Pour salted caramel sauce on top of crust, then sprinkle on pecans and chocolate chips. Set aside.
  4. Make the filling. Using a standard or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, eggs, vanilla and salted caramel sauce together until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture over layered crust. Bake until cheesecake jiggles slightly in center, about 45-50 minutes. Cool, and chill for at least 4 hours.
  5. Before serving, sprinkle on remaining nuts and chocolate chips, and drizzle with remaining salted caramel sauce.

If you are interested in other salted caramel or turtle recipes, here are a few of my favorites:

salted caramel brownie inside

Salted Caramel Brownie Bites

salted caramel apple individual hand pies

Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies

caramel thumbprint cookies

Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

chocolate turtle graham bars

Salted Chocolate Turtle Graham Bars

salted caramel crunch brownie bar

Salted Caramel Crunch Brownies

Tell me, what’s your favorite flavor of cheesecake? I thought I would be tired of making cheesecake after three consecutive times in several days, but I actually want to make more!