How I Made a Simple Grocery Store Cheesecake Look Supreme

Last year, with sheltering in place, we baked a special birthday cake for the girls’ birthday separate from their party and its own dessert. This year we continued the tradition and made it simpler by buying a Costco cake. For Zoey I grabbed a Tuxedo cake as how could you go wrong with chocolate but when Ada’s birthday came around I wanted to try something else, especially when Ada didn’t know she wanted. At the store I made a quick decision to grab the plain cheesecake but then started worrying that it was too plain and lacked flavor for the kids. As such things go one thing led to another and I ended up making a homemade chocolate sauce and caramel sauce the afternoon before her birthday and then included brownie bits leftover from her party the weekend before. Looking back I don’t know if the girls would’ve loved a plain piece of cheesecake but they LOVED the three optional toppings I included for their pieces!

Pinterest-geared image showing four images of a supreme cheesecake (shown below), my post title, and my main URL.

Toppings

Brownie Bits

For Ada’s birthday party the weekend before I had made brownie cupcakes topped with whip cream and sprinkles using the foolproof gooey brownies recipe found in The No-Fuss Family Cookbook I reviewed a while back. Some of the cupcakes were made using paper liners, as I ran out of the silicon ones, and I found those cupcakes stuck to the liners. As such, while packing up, I crumbled them to create brownie bits and saved them in a container. We hadn’t used them yet so I grabbed them for the cheesecake and they were perfect! That said if you want the same and don’t have any leftover brownie bits on hand I could see making it homemade (love The No-Fuss Family Cookbook one), buying a store-bought brownie to break up, making a box mix (we love the Ghirardelli one with or without canned pineapples), or, if you prefer the hard crunchie brownies, buying Brownie Brittle (we’ve only tried the chocolate chip one from Costco but it was fantastic). Whatever you do you can’t go wrong with brownies.

Image shows a container of brownie bits with lines showing where the cupcake liner was when it baked.
While packing up the leftover brownies from Ada’s birthday I realized any brownie cupcake in a paper liner was hard to remove. For those ones I crunched up the brownie into pieces, making it easier, and put all the pieces into a container for later.

Caramel Sauce

I planned to make both caramel and chocolate sauce for the cheesecake topping but after looking over the recipes for both I decided to start with the caramel as it looked a bit more finicky. I wanted to simplify the dirty dishes for later by reusing the pot and figured I’d rather have caramel in the pot when melting down chocolate chips than chocolate residue in the pot when caramelizing sugar. This ended up working out for the best as some of the caramel hardened to the pot and reusing the same pot for the chocolate sauce meant a way easier clean up as most of the rock hard caramel melted into the chocolate.

For this I went with the Caramel Sauce from Simply Recipes and followed the directions specified. I didn’t need to use a candy thermometer, which I vaguely remember doing pre-kids, and had no trouble making it.

Image shows the Simply Recipes header, the post title, caption, author (Elis Bauer), rating (4/5 stars from 39 ratings), and that there's 280 comments. There's a large photo of caramel dripping from a spoon into a dollop on a white dish.
Screenshot of the Simply Recipes: Caramel Sauce webpage taken on August 26, 2021.
Image shows the pot with brown liquid and a metal whisk in it and, to the left, the cut up butter and pre-measured whipping cream in a jug.
Following the directions I made sure to have all the ingredients prepped and ready before turning on the burner and caramelizing the sugar.
Now the pot is closer up. The whisk holds the brown liquid but the rest is covered with clear bubbles. The measuring cup of whipping cream still sits beside.
Once the sugar was caramelized I added the butter, waited for it to melt (mistakenly letting it boil for a bit), and, after this photo, added the heavy whipping cream.

After the caramel sauce was made I poured it into an empty jar and made sure to get every drip out with a spatula. It smelled and tasted incredible!

Chocolate Sauce

After scraping the caramel sauce from the pot it was time to make the chocolate sauce. For this I chose the Easy-To-Make Chocolate Sauce I found through The Spruce Eats and boy was it easy.

Screenshot of "The Spruce Eats: Easy-To-Make Chocolate Sauce" by Diana Rattray. This shows the recipe information, nutritional facts, and an image.
Screenshot of The Spruce Eats: Easy-To-Make Chocolate Sauce website was taken on August 26, 2021.

The chocolate sauce was even easier as I only needed to combine heavy whipping cream and chocolate chips, melt it, and then add the vanilla extract. It smelled incredible and I quickly moved it into a jar to cool before putting it into the fridge.

Image shows a pot with the odd bit of hardened caramel showing at the bottom and a pile of chocolate chips.
Started out by melting the chocolate chips with the heavy whipping cream. I snapped this photo before adding the cream to show the hardened caramel residue left behind in the pot.
Image shows a pot of brown liquid place between the burners with dirty measuring cups and spatulas to the left of it.
Once combined together I removed it from the heat, added vanilla extract, and gave it another mix.

With the caramel and chocolate sauce done it was time to let it cool before putting it in the fridge. I wanted to cover it as it cooled so I balance a measuring cup on their edge to help hold up a thin tea towel.

image shows a metal one cup measurement balanced between two old Bonne Maman jam jars. The one on the left is a light caramel brown and the one on the right is a dark chocolate brown.
I wanted to leave the lid off as it cooled but also didn’t want the tea towel to get inside the jars. As such I balanced one of my measuring cups on the top of the jars before placing a thin tea towel overtop.
Image shows a light tea towel in a mountain shape as it covers the jars in the previous photo.
The measuring cup worked perfectly and the sauces were covered as they cooled.
Image shows the back of Zoey's head as she uses a spoon to taste the sauce. In the background you can see Ada's hand tilting her saucer as she does her own tasting.
The chocolate and caramel sauces didn’t magically fit completely inside the jars. I did end up pouring the excess sauces onto a saucer for the kids to taste and hopefully approve.

And Finally It’s Time for the Cheesecake

With the caramel and chocolate sauces made and the leftover brownie bits in the fridge from last week I was finally ready to make the cheesecake I bought from Costco spectacular for Ada’s birthday.

Image shows four slices of cheesecake still unsliced on a large cardboard cheesecake base from Costco.
I somehow didn’t think to snap a photo of the cheesecake until we were almost done eating it.
Image shows a whole cheesecake on the black plastic base without the clean lid overtop. The left side is cut off and in front of it, on a white square plate, sits an unadorned slice of cheesecake.
As I didn’t have a good photo I went onto Instacart to snap a screenshot of their listing for the Costco cheesecake. This screenshot was taken on August 26, 2021.

For Ada’s birthday and going forward we ended up cutting each piece and decorating it according to each person’s specifications. As such, from this time, I only have photos of single slices of cheesecake. Later on I realized I should’ve gotten a pretty photo of the entire cake and so justified buying another cheesecake (mmmmm…) mainly blog photos…. both were delicious.

For now here’s some photos of how a slice of cake can be served:

Image shows a mostly gone platter of cheesecake with a knife, two square saucers with a slice each and a pile of brownie bits, and a container of brownies.
You could go simple with a slice of cheesecake served with a side of brownie bits.
Image shows a circular saucer with a large piece of cheesecake coated in caramel with drizzles dripping down. Behind the slice you can see pieces of brownie on the saucer. Beside the saucer is a half filled jar of caramel sauce and behind it is a plastic container of brownie bits.
If you want more you can warm up the caramel (I tossed the lidless jar in the microwave for a bit) and drizzle it over the piece of cheesecake.
Image shows a slice of cheesecake from above with chocolate sauce covering the bit of caramel on and beside the slice. A fork and part of a pizza adorned napkin are laid out behind and beside the saucer.
Or forgo the brownies and only use the sauce-y toppings of your choice.
Image shows a stack of white saucers with a large slice of cheesecake sitting in a light brown pool of caramel with chocolate coating the top. Under the saucer you can see the pink tablecloth covering the table.
On Ada’s birthday I dished the caramel onto the saucers, warmed it up in the microwave, dished the slice of cheesecake onto the sauce, and then finally topped it all with some the chocolate sauce.
Image is the same as above but this time the container of brownie bits are held slightly in front of the cheesecake blurring the background a tad.
Then I offered brownie bits to go on top if anyone wanted.

Looking back I realized all those slices would have tasted, and looked, so much better with some sliced fruit on them. As such, when I later justified buying a cheesecake, mostly, for the photos I made sure to also buy some strawberries although I’m sure so many different berries would go great with this. With all the pieces of my plan in place I was ready to create an amazing photo-ready dessert then suddenly realized that I didn’t have a firm plan in place. I ended up microwaving the jars of chocolate and caramel sauce so they’d be runnier and easier to use. I then kind of slopped the chocolate sauce down make a decorative pattern before drizzling the caramel sauce back and forth over top. Finally I grabbed a strawberry or two, sliced them, and attempted to make a flower centerpiece. This is what I came up with:

Image shows the final chocolate, caramel, and strawberry festooned cheesecake taken from above and to the side.
Image shows the final chocolate, caramel, and strawberry festooned cheesecake taken from above and looking down.

With the photos taken I quickly sliced pieces for us, added more strawberries, and finally drizzled more chocolate and/or caramel sauce depending what each person wanted.

The slice is on its side with the sliced strawberries laying beside it as if it was topped with them. There are drizzles of chocolate sauce crisscrossing the length of it going from top to bottom and back again.
This slice had extra strawberries placed above it and was then drizzled with more chocolate sauce.
Image shows two plates with one in front of the other. Both have strawberries and chocolate sauce while the one in front also has caramel drizzled over it.
I wanted all three topping so started with strawberries before drizzling both chocolate and caramel sauce over top.
Image shows a slice of cheesecake on its side on a square white saucer. There are light and dark brown dollops all over it make it look arty. Behind the saucer you can see the rest of the bedazzled cheesecake.
The slice without strawberries even looked amazing with drizzled and speckled chocolate and caramel sauce all over the plate.

After that first night we went back to leftover slices but now had a bit of chocolate and caramel on each piece as I had decorated the cake as a whole on the first night.

Image shows the hardened chocolate and caramel topped cheesecake slice sitting in a pool of hot caramel on a white saucer.
This time I dished the cold caramel sauce onto a saucer, microwaved it so it boiled (was too slow with the camera to show the bubbles well), and then dished the cold slice of cheesecake onto the hot sauce.
Image is taken looking down at a slice on its side with a heap of caramel on top and a sprinkling of cinnamon showing. To the side is a large jar with cold caramel and a spoon inside to dish.
On other nights we were lazier and so I served the caramel sauce cold. Even then, though, I brought it a step further by sprinkling the entire slice with cinnamon. So good.
Photo is taken from the side looking at an upright slice of cheesecake sitting in melted caramel and topped with whip cream mostly hiding the leftover cold chocolate and caramel on top of the slice.
Once we even made some whip cream and combined it with hot caramel for an amazing change. Looking at this now I wish I had added cinnamon on top too.
Image shows a white saucer held up in front of a white wall. On it is whiter cheesecake, dark brownies, and brown caramel.
For the first cake I took the last piece, broke it up, plated it with brownie bits, and drizzled the whole entire thing with caramel and chocolate sauce. It was divine and placed in the center of the table for all of us to share with a supper snack tray.

Leftovers? Make Frozen Cheesecake Balls…. So Messy but So Delicious

Even though it was delicious we were getting tired of cheesecake by the end so I decided to freeze it so it could last longer. Rather than just putting the slices into the freezer I wanted to try something new and came up with making cheesecake balls by using my hands to mould the cheesecake into balls. I wasn’t sure how this would turn out so I just went for it without thinking or planning. Looking back, if planning for company, I would have used gloves but this time around I didn’t have any on hand.

To make these I basically grabbed hunks of cheesecake, shaped it into a haphazard ball, and placed it on a Silpat lined cookie sheet to go into the freezer. I had leftover whip cream and caramel so I used some to top some of the balls in addition to the chocolate, caramel, and whip cream that were already on the original pieces.

Word of warning: If making these with bare hands you’ll be able to feel the greasy residue left even after washing your hands once or twice.

Image shows a Silpat lined cookie sheet to the right and a partially eaten, only five pieces left, decorated cheesecake to the left.
I started out grabbing the leftover cake and lined a cookie sheet with my Silpat sheet so the frozen balls would be simpler to remove later on.
Image shows seven lines of cheesecake balls laid out across the cookie sheet. The six leftmost ones are topped with caramel while the nine ones beside it are topped with whipped cream.
After breaking pieces of cheesecake off and forming balls I decided to use my leftover whip cream and caramel to decorate some of the cheesecake balls.
Image shows a light blue Stasher bag filled with cheesecake balls and open at the top. The brown and white dirtied Silpat liner is seen in the background.
Once they mostly froze I popped them off of the Silpat and into a Stasher bag for longer term storage.
Image shows the popped open Stasher bag from above so you can see the cheesecake inside. A fork holding a caramel coated one is poised above the bag.
They tasted amazing straight from the freezer! Even better than fresh from the store.
Image shows three cheesecake balls on a white square saucer. Each is topped with a spiral of whipped cream.
Although they were great straight out the freezer I did take the time to plate them, with added whip cream, a time or two too.

Looking back two cheesecakes were way too much for our family of four. That said its since been awhile and these photos are making me miss it… maybe that’s why I broke down and made pumpkin cheesecake twice over Thanksgiving. Anyway, I hope this post helps you whether you have a plain cheesecake you’re hoping to spruce up or are looking to make a cheaper cake look more gourmet. This cheesecake was simple and tasted incredible.

If you buy plain Costco cheesecakes do you eat them plain or spruce them up first? If you do add stuff what do you use? I’d love more ideas so feel free to share what you do in the comments below. Hope you’re doing well and your week is going great!


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Kyra

My name is Kyra and I’m a computer programmer that decided to stay at home with my two beautiful daughters: Ada and Zoey. I created this website to share with you anything I come across in my day to day life that I think you may enjoy.

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