Wednesday, April 29, 2009

DB: Cheesecake!

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

This was a great challenge! We were given a basic (fabulous) cheesecake recipe and then were free to get creative! And some of the DBers sure did get creative!!

My initial idea was to do something a little different using one of my favorite flavors... balsamic vinegar. I have a bottle of good quality thich sweet balsamic that I use exclusively for dessert (usually macerate strawberries.... over vanilla ice cream... yummm) so I hoped it would work in this! I reduced the balsamic so I could get more flavor out of it without messing with the consistency of the cheesecake, and I added chopped strawberries to the batter. I used vanilla wafer cookies instead of graham for the crust. They were GREAT! Different, but they worked!

Because I was not sure how that would turn out, I decided to make them in cupcake form and split the batter into thirds. I omitted the lemon juice from all three so I could play with more liquid flavoring

My other two flavors were:

espresso-vanilla (with vanilla crust). I made fresh espresso and reduced it for the same reason as above... this allowed it to haev a really nice strong coffee flavor!

Vanilla Mint-chocolate. I added mint extract and kept teh vanilla to the batter, and I made the crust with chocolate wafer cookies. I added broken chunks of ghiradelli 70% chocolate bar to the batter. This I think was my favorite! The taste and texture was reminiscent of a Peppermint Patty - only better ;)

These came together quickly and easily, and cooked much faster thanks to the smaller size (about 25 minutes). Also, cooking in a cupcake pan with liners meant that it was foolproof to use a water bath.

Thanks for a great April challenge!

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs

1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted

2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

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

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!


Madam Chow said...

I think the vanilla-mint would have been my favorite, too!

Debyi said...

Wow, all of your flavors sound wonderful! I so want to try your balsamic vinegar/strawberry, that one sounds amazing!

Jenny said...

I'm intrigued by the balsamic idea, actually. I love your other flavors too.

And yes, I'm still working through the blogs. Thanks for participating in the April Daring Bakers challenge!

Jenny of Jenny Bakes