For the Crust
- 6 ounces mini pretzels
- 1/ 4 cup granulated sugar
- pinch smoked flake salt
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
In a food processor, add the graham crackers and pretzels. Pulse until mixture resembles bread crumbs.
Add in the sugar, salt, and butter and pulse until combined and mixture starts to clump together.
Transfer to an 11 or 12 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Press mixture into the bottom and sides evenly, using a glass or round measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly around all the sides and pressing down on the bottom to ensure the crust is firmly pressed into the whole tart pan.
Place in freezer and freeze for about 30 minutes, until very firm.
For the Cheesecake Filling
- 16 ounces cream cheese, (2 packages), room temperature
- 1/ 2 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 5 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 10 Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Squares, roughly chopped
- pinch smoked flake salt
Fill a small saucepan with a few inches of water and place over medium heat. Add the chopped dark chocolate to a glass bowl larger than the saucepan so that it rests on top without the bottom of the bowl making contact with the water. Gently melt the chocolate then remove from heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
Add the cream cheese and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and whip for a minute or so, until fluffy.
Add in the cocoa powder and salt and beat again until mixture is well combined.
Add in the cooled melted chocolate and heavy cream and whip again until combined and mixture is smooth.
Add in the chopped Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Squares and fold in by hand with a rubber spatula.
Add the filling to the chilled tart shell and spread out to the edges evenly using an offset spatula. Place in fridge and chill for about an hour before adding the meringue.
For the Meringue
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/ 4 teaspoon cream of tarter
- pinch smoked flake salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (can also sub vanilla extract)
Add a few inches of water to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and rest bowl over the simmering water, being sure it does not make direct contact with the water.
Stir constantly until sugar has completely dissolved and mixture is warm. You should be able to rub the mixture between your fingers without feeling any grit from the sugar. If you do, keep stirring over the heat until it’s completely dissolved.
Remove from heat and place on stand mixer and beat on high using the whisk attachment until mixture is thick, white, and glossy, about 5 minutes or so. Mixture is ready when it holds stiff peaks.
Add in the vanilla bean paste and whisk to incorporate.
Add the meringue to the center of the cheesecake and use the back of a spoon to spread out evenly. I like to leave a little bit of the chocolate peeking out along the edges but decoration is up to you! You can do swirls and swoops or make little peaks like I did by pulling the spoon up on the meringue. Keep in mind all the designs you make will be magnified when toasted so the prettier, the better.
Using a culinary torch, carefully toast the surface of the meringue all over until golden brown. If you don’t have a torch, you can also just pop the whole thing under the broiler for a few seconds but be careful not let it burn so keep an eye on it!
Sprinkle the whole thing with a little more smoked flaky salt and slice up and serve immediately.