The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the 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 juice1 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.
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!
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, cover20bottom 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.
I've always used the same water bath technique when I made cheesecake in the past, as it allows the crust to cool without cracking. I rub shortening on the inside and outside of the springform pan to help make it watertight and then I wrap three layers of foil around the bottom and sides to ensure a good seal. I haven't had any problems with the water seeping into the pan and making the crust soggy, but the recipe creator suggests using and throw away aluminum pan to cook the cheesecake in, as it will prevent any sogginess for the water and then cutting the sides of the pan off when the cheesecake is cooled.
The fun part of this Daring Baker challenge was that we were allowed to make any kind of cheesecake flavor that we wished!
I knew I would be bringing my cheesecake to an Easter celebration as dessert, so I didn't want to experiment too much, and only added some orange and lemon zest to the batter as additions. Then I added a fresh fruit topping -- strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, tangerine slices, and pineapple.
I made a glaze by reducing a cup of pineapple / tangerine juice by slowly boiling the juices until they reduced by half, and then added two tablespoons of white corn syrup and mixed well. Since children would be eating the cheesecake I did not want to add liqueur to the glaze, but a tablespoon of a fruit flavored liqueur could also be added to the glaze if desired. I then brushed the glaze over the fruit topping.
I used a large 12 inch springform pan, so my cake was thin and perfect for the fruit topping, but if you are making one without a topping you might like to use a 8 or 10 inch pan to make the cheesecake thicker for a different presentation.
** 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=2 0of 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 at 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.
It was really a delicious cheesecake recipe! It was very creamy and moist, and "melt in your mouth" good! It is definitely a recipe I will use again.
Please visit The Daring Kitchen website and learn more about Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks and visit some of the other blogs on the blogroll that participated in the April Challenge to see their fabulous cheesecakes!.
There is now a recipe archive, FAQ's, a forum, cookbook reviews and lots more on The Daring Kitchen web site. You can register to join too!
I hope you'll join in on all the fun and take a Daring Kitchen challenge!
I'm going to be on a little blog break this week, as I'm off to visit my little grandson!
When I come back I'll be close to having done 300 posts, so I'll be doing a little "give away" on my blog to celebrate that occasion. Please come back and keep checking for that event! I love to read all your comments.
Have a wonderful week --I'll miss you!