• 2 cups ginger snap cookie crumbs
• 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
• pinch of salt
• 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
• 1 pound (2 8-ounce blocks) cream cheese, at room temperature
• 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 2 tablespoons water
• 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Place two rack in the upper and bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. You’ll need a 9-inch pie plate and a 9×13-inch pan for boiling water.
Crust: Place cookies in the bowl of a food processor and grind to a fine crumb. If you don’t have a food processor you can crumble cookies in a zip lock bag with a rolling pin. Once you’ve created a fine crumb, add brown sugar, salt, and butter. Toss together, moistening all of the ginger snap crumbs. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and press with fingers until sides and bottom are evenly coated with crust.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you make the cheesecake filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Place a tea kettle of water on the stove top to boil. We’re going to add hot water to the 9×13-inch pan to place under the baking cheesecake.
Cheesecake filling: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese and granulated sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in salt and vanilla extract until well incorporated. Add eggs, beating one at a time between each addition. Once creamy and smooth, slowly beat in the cream, beating on medium high until creamy and luscious. Add lemon zest if using.
Pour cheesecake mixture into the prepared cheesecake crust.
Place 9×13-inch pan in the bottom shelf of the hot oven. Carefully pour in hot water, and fill to 1/2 full. Push into oven.
Place cheesecake on the upper oven shelf. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until cheesecake is browned and puffed. When cheesecake is puffed and doesn’t have a loose giggle in the center, turn oven off and use a towel to prop the oven open slightly. Let cheesecake rest for another 45 minutes in the cooling oven. Remove from the oven and cool completely, for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best.
While the cheesecake cools, make the caramel so it can cool as well.
Caramel: Add sugar, water, and corn syrup to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring once or twice. Bring to a boil and allow to brown. Once sugar has browned to a medium amber color, remove from heat and immediately add heavy cream and butter. Mixture will boil and foam. Stir well.
Add salt and stir well to incorporate. Caramel may seem thin… that’s ok. Place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.
Pour the cooled caramel over the cooled cheesecake, return to the refrigerator until ready to serve. Sprinkle with a dash of sea salt then slice and serve.
Cheese will last for up to 4 days, well wrapped in the refrigerator.