Golden Caramel Cheesecake Cupcakes

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I have to admit to not being very adventurous in the kitchen.  I can follow a recipe and maybe tweak it, but have just recently started getting into modifying cake type recipes into cupcakes.  It’s usually not that hard, only requiring a change in the baking time or maybe the frosting but this time around I took a cookie bar recipe from Kraft Recipes and made cupcakes.  Oh my.  The cookie bars were over the top delicious but the cupcakes.  Oh the cupcakes are, if I do say so myself, fabulous.  And the best part?  They are so very easy to make.

The first time I made them, I drizzled the caramel on top of the cream cheese batter but the caramel overflowed a bit and went down the sides of the cupcake.  This time, I swirled the caramel into the top of the cream cheese with a knife to create a marbling effect and it worked much better.

Golden Caramel Cheesecake Cupcakes

Makes about 18 cupcakes
28  Golden OREO Cookies, divided
25  KRAFT Caramels
1 Tbsp.  water
2 pkg.  (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 jar  (7 oz.) JET-PUFFED Marshmallow Creme
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Coarsely chop 10 cookies (I used a food processor)
3. Beat cream cheese and marshmallow in a large bowl with mixer until well blended.  Add egg; mix well. Stir in chopped cookies and mix.
4. Line cupcake tins with 18 paper liner.  Drop one whole cookie into each well to form a “crust” on the bottom of each cupcake.
5. Add cream cheese mixture on top of the cookie filling almost to the top.
6. Microwave caramels and water in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until caramels are completely melted, stirring every 30 sec.
7. While the caramel mixture is still hot, place about one teaspoon of melted caramel on top of each cupcake.  I did a couple at a time and then swirled the caramel into the cheesecake.  If you wait too long, the caramel will start to harden.
8.  Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the center is just set.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and then remove the cupcake to a wire rack to cool completely.  Refrigerate four hours.
9. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.

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