My gift to you

The holidays are about giving and making those in your life feel special and loved.  As my gift to you, I am happy to share the recipe for the Toasted Macadamia Caramel Cheesecake.  Because of space restrictions, several cakes were cut from the pages of Extraordinary Cakes.  “Caramel Mac,” as it is affectionately known, is one of our all-time most popular cakes.

Honolulu and Paris are two places I try to visit as often as I can. One is a tropical paradise, surrounded by vibrant flowers and lush vegetation. The other, a city steeped in history, style and architecture. They could not be more different than night and day. Yet both hold a special place in my heart.

This dessert was inspired equally by my love of these two amazing cities.  Paris is filled with great neighborhood bakeries. One of my favorites, located in the Marais district, makes a fabulous walnut shortbread that is the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon cup of coffee. Hawaii, of course, is known for its macadamias, which seemed a good substitution in my own version of that Parisian bakery shortbread.

Unlike in a traditional cheesecake where the filling is baked on top of the crust, here each component is baked separately and “glued” together with freshly made caramel. Buttery macadamias, rich and thick caramel and creamy cheesecake filling, this is Ono-licious!

If making caramel seems to daunting for you, omit this step and simply bake the filling directly on top of the baked and cooled crust. And if you need to switch out the nuts, then pecan is the only other nut that can be equally substituted and still give a rich, buttery, toasty flavor.

I hope that you can find the time to enjoy this recipe with loved ones.

With love, Karen


Makes one 10” cake

Serves 14-16 ppl

Cheesecake Filling: 

4 ½ cups/ 4 ½ packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 ½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large eggs

2/3 cup raw macadamia nut pieces, finely chopped


1.       Preheat the oven to 350F.

2.       Butter the bottom and inside a 10” x 3” Spring Form cake pan and cover with a 10”     diameter parchment paper round.

3.       In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

4.       Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time until well incorporated. 

5.       Mix in the nuts just until fully combined.

6.       Transfer the batter into the prepared cake pan and place on a rack in the center of the oven.

7.       Bake for 15 minutes then reduce temperature to 300 and bake another 50 minutes, until set.. The top of the cake may crack slightly and turn a light golden brown.

8.       Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer overnight or until firm enough to easily remove cake from spring form pan. The cake can be stored for up to 2 days in the refrigerator or for up to 1 week in the freezer.

 Macadamia Nut Crust:

 1 cup coarsely ground raw macadamia nuts

2 cups all-purpose flour    

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened    

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

1.       Preheat the oven to 350F.

2.       Butter the bottom and inside a 10” x 3” Spring Form cake pan and cover with a 10” diameter parchment paper round.

3.       In a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, combine nuts and flour and pulse to a coarse texture. Be careful not to over pulse or the oil from the nuts will cause the mixture to become wet and clump.

4.       In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until fully incorporated.

5.       Add the nut mixture and mix just until well combined and the dough holds its shape. *At this point the dough can be stored unbaked and well wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 1 week. Thaw completely before proceeding to next step. 

6.       Press the dough evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan and place on a rack in the center of the over.    

7.       Bake until golden brown, approximately 25-30 minutes   

8.       Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before releasing the crust from the pan.

9.       Once cooled, remove the crust from the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap until ready to use. The baked crust can be stored for up to 2 days at room temperature.


 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed

½ cup water

¼ cup light corn syrup

½ cup heavy cream, room temperature

1.       Combine the butter, sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

2.       Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to darken in color and thicken slightly- enough to start to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 8 minutes. 

3.       Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream, mixing to combine.

4.       Return the pan to the stove and bring the mixture to a boil once again. 

5.       Pour caramel into a clean bowl and set aside to cool until ready to use. Caramel may be prepared up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Caramel should be brought to room temperature and may need to be stirred before use.



“Macademia nut crust”

“Cheesecake filling”

1.       If caramel has been stored in the refrigerator, allow it to come to room temperature before using.

2.       Place a teaspoon-size dollop of caramel in the center of a 10” cakeboard to anchor the crust in place.

3.       Place baked, cooled and unwrapped crust on cake board and press down gently to adhere to caramel.

4.       Using an offset spatula, spread half of the cooled caramel evenly over the crust.

5.       Place the baked, cooled and unwrapped cheesecake on top of the caramel-covered crust. Spread the remaining caramel over the top of the cake. At this point, cake may be well-wrapped in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before decorating and serving.


 3 cups heavy cream

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 ½ cups coarsely ground macadamia nuts, lightly toasted  

1.       In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the cream and the sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form.

2.       Fit a pastry bag with a ½ inch 9 point closed star decorating tip and fill with 1/3 of whipped cream. Hold in the refrigerator until ready to use.

3.       Using an offset spatula, spread the remaining whipped cream smoothly and evenly over the top and sides of the cake.

4.       Press the toasted nuts evenly onto the side of the cake to completely cover the whipped cream.

5.       Using the pastry bag, pipe 8 large rosettes going around the top edge of the cake.

6.       Place cake onto a doily-covered 12” round cake board or directly onto a cake plate. Defrost for 8 hours in the refrigerator.

7.       Just before serving, garnish with whole macadamia nuts or flower petals if desired.

About Extraordinary Desserts

Over 20 years ago, Karen Krasne opened the first Extraordinary Desserts at 2929 5th Avenue near San Diego’s Balboa Park. Since then, Extraordinary Desserts has become one of San Diego’s most prominent dining establishments and has expanded to include a second location in San Diego’s Little Italy area at 1430 Union Street as well as a line of gourmet products and a robust online store. From the dazzling artistry and sublime taste of its award-winning sweets to the attentive customer service, Extraordinary Desserts has built a strong reputation for its decadent, gourmet dessert creations, elegant eats, and extraordinary experience. As a result, Extraordinary Desserts is consistently a top pick by critics and readers of both local and national publications. Owner and executive chef Karen Krasne studied at Paris’ best pastry schools. She uses only organic ingredients when possible, and adorns each luxurious dessert with locally-grown fresh flowers, her signature edible gold leaf, autumn leaves, and sinfully sweet sauces making her creations a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Extraordinary Desserts, Little Italy 1430 Union Street San Diego, CA 92101 Phone: (619) 294-7001 Extraordinary Desserts, Balboa Park 2929 Fifth Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 Phone: (619) 294-2132
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11 Responses to My gift to you

  1. limor says:

    thank you so much for the recipe, you are the best!!!!!

  2. limor says:

    Are you going to publish a book of recipes taken from the book because of the constraint place?
    i really want the Shangri-La recipes?!

  3. Taylor Crowell says:

    How very very generous! Love this one! Thank you SO much will be whipping it up SOON!

  4. Jamie says:

    Hi Karen: is there any way to modify the crust to make the cake gluten-free? Thanks!

  5. sugargarden says:

    Thank you for sharing. Love your book!

  6. Mrs. AJ says:

    We moved to Las Vegas in 2010, and my Extraordinary Desserts cravings have not and cannot be satiated by anything here. We pre-ordered and served your Caramel Mac during our wedding in 2006, and our yearnings for it are not only gastronomically centered, but also sentimental. I have your cake recipe book now and have made two cakes with great success (in taste, though, not aesthetically), but our taste buds still yearn for this cheesecake. I am now going to make it this weekend, and I thank you so much for sharing it with your patrons and readers. This is a wonderful and lasting gift indeed, Ms. Krasne.

  7. Lily U. says:

    Hola Karen!!!!!!!! Espero que puedas leer este mensage, yo compre tu libro y estoy encantada con el.. Me fasina sorprender a mi familia con un pastel o un postre. Ojala y te desidas a hacer uno de cupcakes, o hacer otro libro de resetas q me encantan y q no las icluiste en el libro, como el napoleon y un pan dulce q tiene pinas a los lados, no recuerdo el nombre pero me fasinan y muchos mas, gracias Karen por ese maravilloso libro. Saludos.

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