For the cake:
- 24 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Vanilla pod
- 4 eggs
- ¼ cup sour cream
- Confectioner’s sugar
For the base:
- 6 oz chocolate graham crackers or digestives
- 3 tbsp melted butter
For the nut topping:
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ~½ cup sugar
For the caramel sauce:
- 5 tbsp butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
For the chocolate topping:
- 1 scant cup dark chocolate nibs
- 1 tbsp vegetable shortening
To prepare the cake:
- Preheat oven to 140C.
- Lightly grease an 8 inch spring form pan. Cover with wax paper to facilitate removal of cake.
- Crush chocolate graham crackers in a food processor. Add melted butter. Press into bottom of pan with a large spoon.
- Beat cream cheese and sugar together until mixed. Scrape vanilla seeds from pod and add to cream cheese. Add eggs and sour cream. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Pour over graham cracker base. Bake between 60 and 90 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Carefully remove cake form mold and gently place on a serving platter. This part is tough and my cake crumbled a bit here. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
To prepare the cashew topping:
- Place cashews in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast at 140C for about 5 to 8 minutes to lightly toast. Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a large saucepan, add sugar for nut topping. Heat on medium to medium high until sugar becomes a caramel. This took me about ten minutes or so. Do not stir or move sugar. Carefully add toasted cashews to caramel. Mix with wooden spoon to cover and pour onto a baking tray covered with wax paper. Let cool.
- Break into bite-sized portions.
To prepare caramel sauce:
- Place butter and sugar in a sauce pan on medium. Stir with a wooden spoon constantly. Cook until a dark caramel forms. This, too, takes at least ten minutes. The caramel went through fascinating stages, becoming a thick paste, then releasing liquid and all sorts of other changes. Whatever happens, stir until it is the color that you want. Then add heavy cream while continuing to stir. Remove from heat.
To prepare chocolate topping:
- Melt chocolate and vegetable shortening together in a double boiler. Stir constantly. Remove from heat to cool a bit then re-warm to tempter the chocolate.
To assemble cake:
- Dust cake with confectioner’s sugar. Sprinkle candied cashews on top. Pour caramel sauce over that. Finally, drizzle chocolate sauce on top of everything. Cover and chill for a few hours. Then enjoy!