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Turtle Cheesecake

With origins in ancient Greece, cheesecake came to the US with the first European settlers. It evolved after 1872, when cream cheese was accidentally made by a man attempting to replicate the soft French cheese, Neufchatel. New York-style cheesecake then rose to prominence in the late 1920s using the spreadable cream cheese. This cheesecake, using caramel, chocolate, and nuts, is named after Turtles, a confection developed in the United States by Johnson's Candy Company in 1918, so named because the shape of the treat resembles a turtle. In the first decades of the 20th century, “turtle” confections became popular around the country with the ingredients easily adapted to other desserts, like this turtle cake.

Recipe Servings: 10

Prep Time
30 minutes
+ 6 hours resting
Cook Time
1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time
7 hours 45 minutes
Gluten Free
Dairy Free


  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs, finely crushed
  • 5 Tbsp butter, melted


    For Crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl until well combined.
  3. Wrap the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with two layers of aluminum foil.
  4. Press the crumb-butter mixture into the pan evenly.
  5. Bake for 8–10 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool to room temperature before adding the cheesecake mixture.
  6. Reduce oven heat to 325°F.
  7. For Filling:
  8. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl for 2–3 minutes, until smooth.
  9. Beat in the sugar and vanilla.
  10. Add the creamer, beating to combine.
  11. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each.
  12. Beat the mixture for an additional 1 minute before pouring it over the crust in the springform pan.
  13. Place the springform pan inside a 9 x 13-inch cake pan, and carefully fill the cake pan with water to about 1 inch below the top of the tin foil on the springform pan.
  14. Place the cake pan with springform pan inside the oven and bake 60 minutes, until the edges are set but 2–3 inches around the center remains wobbly.
  15. Let cool to room temperature in the oven with the door ajar.
  16. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.
  17. For Caramel:
  18. Heat sugar and butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture begins to bubble, continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  19. Remove the pan from heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
  20. For Ganache:
  21. Place the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl.
  22. Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium heat.
  23. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips.
  24. Let the chocolate melt for 1–2 minutes before mixing to combine.
  25. Cool for 10–15 minutes.
  26. Pour the chocolate ganache over the top of the cheesecake and spread with a spatula.
  27. Top with pecans and drizzle caramel over top.

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