Sunday, April 26, 2009

Daring Bakers: Cheescake


Finally!


After a couple of savory challenges, we are finally back to sweets for the Daring Bakers group! Now that's what I'm talkin bout!

I know I have made no bake cheescakes before, but I do not recall if I have made a baked one from scratch. So if I can't remember, it really means it has been to long to count anyway. This was a really easy, straightforward recipe that even the kitchen challenged like myself could do. And I am proud to say mine had no cracks on top! Zero. Nada. But I have no pictures to prove it, so you will have to take my word for it.

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




I dressed mine up with tinted coconut grass and a fondant bunny looking for his carrots. It was one of the desserts for our family Easter dinner.

It was tasty, but not the best cheesecake I have ever had. It was very creamy and mild in flavor. I like my cheesecake to have bit more twang to it. My piece was also very soft from sitting out for for a few hours. I think it would have been better cold from the fridge.




Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

Crust:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs

1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted

2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cheesecake:

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature

1 cup / 210 g sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 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 spring form 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 stove top 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.



Overall it was a very good and easy recipe and I would like to try some of the other variations in the future. If you make it, let me know how you like it. And check out the Daring Bakers' blog roll to see what creations other members have come up with.


Happy baking!

Sharon
http://www.sugaredproductions.com/



9 comments:

Danielle said...

Very cute! And it looks very tasty!

GHSSUPPORTER said...

I have a question about cheesecake, my daughter wants one for her 16th bday, could I frost and make a tiered cake from maybe three different sizes of cheesecakes, if so, what icing would you suggest?

Heather said...

Great job Sharon!!

ice tea: sugar high said...

Aww.. isn't that just the cutest thing! Especially the little bunny tail. Great job Sharon!

Paul said...

Sharon---Here's our recipe:

Crust: 1 c crushed cookie or graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 c sugar, 2/3 stick melted butter

Cheesecake: 4 blocks (32 oz) softened cream cheese, 1 c sugar, 1 tbsp extract or liqueur, 5 eggs, any other filling flavors

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine crust ingredients & pat into bottom and slightly up sides of 10" prepared springform pan.
3. Blend cream cheese and sugar until creamy and smooth.
4. Scrape sides before adding extract and one egg.
5. Mix until blended.
6. Add remaining eggs one at a time until each is incorporated.
7. Add any additional ingredients (see below).
8. Bake for 1 hour.
9. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 2 hours.
10. Run knife around edges to loosen.
11. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
12. Remove from springform pan to board or cake plate.
13. Add ganache or decorations or just cut & enjoy!

OPTIONS:
1. Add melted chocolate for a chocolate cheesecake.
2. Swirl jams into mixture for a berry delight.
3. Add a can of pureed pumpkin.
4. Add pumpkin & eggnog.
5. Add eggnog.
6. Add lemon, lime, and orange juice for a citrusy pucker.
7. Add caramel, chocolate, and nuts (like turtle candy).
8. Add peanut butter.
9. Add any of the combinations above together for any other variation you can think of.

TOPPINGS:
1. Whipping cream
2. Drizzled chocolate
3. Ganache
4. Chocolate mold-formed candies

Enjoy!!! We won first place in the Central Florida Fair for our White Chocolate Four Berry Jam Cheesecake with a White Chocolate Ganache this year!

Chantal said...

Your bunny is so cute!

Lauren said...

Mmm, your cheesecake looks amazing!! Your pictures are adorable =D.

Jenny said...

This is so adorable, the perfect centerpiece!! I'm glad you had no cracks.

Thanks for being a part of the challenge. It is taking me a while to get to everyone, but I'm glad you were a part of it.

Jenny of JennyBakes

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