Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Daring Bakers: Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

When I read that we were baking cheesecake this month I was quite excited. I have never attempted a cheesecake before. We were told we could add whatever we wanted ie chocolate, fruit, whatever it is people use to flavor cheesecake. I of course opted for a Mexican Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with an Oreo Crust.

Well, as you see from the picture above, I must have created two cheesecakes.

As I was mixing cheesecake one I was amazed at how creamy and smooth this cheesecake was. My Mom's usually had lumps in it. I was actually a bit tentative when adding in the melted dark chocolate because the whiteness of the cake was so beautiful. I couldn't help but think how great a light fruit topping would be upon this cake.

I added the melted chocolate and baked the cheesecake. I then topped it with a heavy HEAVY caramel topping, along with pecans. It was too heavy! It hardened as caramel should, but was overtaking my cheesecake. The nice light fluffy cake became a smashed mess when I cut into it.

I threw it away. Gasp!

Today I created a new cheesecake; a white, fluffy, whipped beautiful cheesecake. It turned out beautifully! I used a simple graham cracker crust and followed the recipe exactly.

After the cake cooled I topped it with a fresh strawberry sauce, then studded with strawberries and added whipped cream. This is a much better sample than my first cheesecake.

The verdict is still out on the flavor. Tyler is away at a tennis match and Troy is away at a baseball game. I'm sure they will love it.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:
crust:2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar1 tsp. vanilla extract
cheesecake:3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature1 cup / 210 g sugar3 large eggs1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream1 tbsp. lemon juice1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
DIRECTIONS:1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.
Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!
Some variations from the recipe creator:
** Lavender-scented cheesecake w/ blueberries - heat the cup of heavy cream in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add 2 tbsp of lavender flowers and stir. Let lavender steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes, then strain the flowers out. Add strained cream to cheesecake batter as normal. Top with fresh blueberries, or make a quick stovetop blueberry sauce (splash of orange juice, blueberries, a little bit of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon - cook until berries burst, then cool)
** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel - take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website - just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).
** Tropical – add about a half cup of chopped macadamias to the crust, then top the cake with a mango-raspberry-mandarin orange puree.
** Mexican Turtle - add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce.
** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey, add about a teaspoon or more (to taste) of cinnamon. Take 2 pears (any variety you like or whatever is in season), peeled and cored, and poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of "coins" of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid and simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears and fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.
Some variations from Jenny (from JennyBakes):
**Key lime - add zest from one lime to sugar before mixing with cream cheese. Substitute lemon juice, alcohol, and vanilla with key lime juice.
**Cheesecakelets - put in muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups. Try baking 20-35 minutes, or until still a little jiggly, and cool as before.

3 comments:

SteveQ said...

Gee, I can't imagine your topping a cheesecake with something heavy - didn't you say my birthday cake's frosting used 16 sticks of butter??? The one that turned out, though, that has me drooling on my keyboard.

Anonymous said...

Do you bake all of these desserts and not eat/taste any of them? Just wondering...

Julie B said...

Yes, your frosting had that much butter! The caramel was WAY too heavy, plus I used too much. Anon, no, I don't usually eat the specimens that I create. This one the boys didn't like and told me cheese is not a dessert so it is going with me to run group tonight. Some I taste, some I don't. This one I didn't. I agree with the boys, cheese isnt a dessert.