Caramel Peanut Pop­corn Cheese­cake

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SERVES 12 PREP 30 min­utes + cool­ing + 45 min­utes to stand

+ 6 hours to chill COOK 15 min­utes COST $2 a serve

1 ta­ble­spoon veg­etable

or peanut oil

¼ cup pop­ping corn ker­nels

½ cup coarsely chopped peanuts ½ tea­spoon sea salt flakes

2/3 cup caster su­gar, plus ½ cup ex­tra 50g but­ter, chopped

2 ta­ble­spoon golden syrup 100g dark eat­ing choco­late,

melted, plus 100g ex­tra, melted 3 tea­spoons gela­tine pow­der 2 ta­ble­spoons boil­ing wa­ter 500g cream cheese,

at room tem­per­a­ture

1 tea­spoon vanilla essence

1 cup thick­ened cream

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over mod­er­ately high heat. Add pop­ping corn ker­nels. Cover with a tight-fit­ting lid. Cook, cov­ered, for 3 min­utes or un­til all the ker­nels have popped. Re­move from heat. Cool. Stir chopped peanuts and sea salt flakes through pop­corn. Line a 20cm spring­form pan with bak­ing pa­per.

Place the su­gar, but­ter and golden syrup in a medium heavy-based saucepan; cook and stir over low heat for 3 min­utes or un­til su­gar dis­solves. In­crease heat. Bring to the boil. Re­duce heat. Sim­mer for 5 min­utes or un­til mix­ture is a rich caramel colour. Re­move from heat. Al­low bub­bles to sub­side. Stir caramel through pop­corn un­til coated. Re­serve ½ cup of pop­corn mix­ture. Us­ing a spoon, press the re­main­ing pop­corn mix­ture firmly over base of pre­pared pan; level sur­face. Set aside 30 min­utes to set. Top with melted choco­late. Set aside for a fur­ther 15 min­utes to set.

Mean­while, sprin­kle gela­tine over boil­ing wa­ter in a heat­proof jug. Whisk un­til dis­solved. Com­bine cream cheese, ex­tra su­gar and essence in a food pro­ces­sor; process un­til smooth. Add cream and gela­tine mix­ture to cream cheese mix­ture; pulse to com­bine. Add the ex­tra melted choco­late; pulse to com­bine.

Pour cream cheese mix­ture over choco­late in pan; level sur­face. Chill for 6 hours or un­til firm.

Serve topped with re­served caramel pop­corn.

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