Monday, April 27, 2009

April Daring Baker -- Cheescake!

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



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.

Some cheesecake variations from the recipe creator that you might like to try:

** 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!


Tracy said...

Be still my heart...cheesecake--my favorite! And I want to try all those flavor option too! ;o) Thank you for the great tip on how to prevent the cheesecake top from cracking...Happy Day ((HUGS))

Sue said...

OMG does this look good!! Next dinner party I am going to try making a cheesecake. I usually hit Sam's Club and buy ready-made to save time, but I need to get more ambitious! Thanks, Pat.

Vee said...

First of all...have a marvelous time with little Leo and his parents, too, of course! ;> We'll miss you in Blogland, but it will be fun knowing that you are taking lots of pictures to share with us.

This cheesecake looks incredible! Thank you for all the alternate flavor suggestions, too. I think I'd stick very, very close to the one you made. You styled it so beautifully, Pat!

supplies overflowing! said...

This looks so good! Cheesecake is a favorite in this house...
Hope you have a WONDERFUL time with that baby of yours, and I will look forward to reading about, and seeing photos of Leo when you return.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Luscious looking cheesecake. Have fun on your week off with little Leo.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Oh, Pat... YUM! It looks so creamy and delicious. I'm impressed.

I hope you have a wonderful time on your break. I will probably be back about the time you are.



Barb said...

Hi Pat,

It has been wayyy too long! Hope all is well. The chessescake will be put on my short list . The short list is now actually a long list.

Have fun with your little one. Hubby got back from Co a little while ago. he was lucky to miss the unexpected weather.

Have a wonderful week.

Junie Moon said...

You did an amazing job with this challenge. It's beautiful and I love all the fruit with it. Have a fun blog break and the time with your grandson.

Judy said...

Cheesescake and fruit...two of my favorite things! And all put together so beautifully by my favorite 'daring baker'.

Have a wonderful time with your little Leo!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Hope you are having a wonderful trip. That cheesecake looks fabulous!
♥, Susan

RoeH said...

I LOVVVVVE cheesecake. And who doesn't. And I'd love to make any one of these. But I can't. I just can't. I've lost 15 pounds and I just can't do it.

I want a week's notice when I die. Cuz' then I'm going to eat everything I want to in those 7 days.

Willow said...

My oh my! That is a gorgeous cheesecake! I can't even imagine making one.

Enjoy your break with your little one! Take lots of hugs and kisses and smiles time with him.

Betsy Brock said...

I could eat that whole cheesecake...seriously! I'm going to make this's a favorite here and I haven't made on in a very long time! Aren't the strawberries huge this time of year? Gorgeous!

Unknown said...

WOW!! Thanks to you Pat, I am drolling on my I've got to have cheesecake for lunch or dinner as baking for me, but I am sure I can find a slice somewhere :D Have a great trip as I am sure Leo will be super happy to see you, we are all anxious to see how he has grown. Love//////////M

Unknown said...

Hi Pat,
I hope you have a wonderful trip and enjoy your family every minute!

The cheesecake looks divine!

Lisa said...

Pat, what a beautiful job on the beautifully decorated! You're an artist! Hope you enjoy your little vacay, and hope to hear from you soon :)

Beth Leintz said...

Too good- I haven't made homemade cheesecake in years- a coworker and I used to have an annual Labor Day cheesecake contest at work and everyone wanted to be a judge. Sadly, I never won...but it was all good fun.

You've made me want to bake again!

Joyce said...

Looks wonderful. I could eat this for breakfast right now if it was in my house. Have a ball spoiling little Leo and take tons of photos of him to share with us. Safe journey my friend:)

MuseSwings said...

What a picturesque cheesecake! A fruitful experience. Looks creamy and delicious. I enjoyed reading the other possibilities, like lavender cheesecake. I had lavender shortbread recently - a delightful flavor.

Beverly said...

Pat, I choose the perfect time to come here and be enticed. This looks simply divine.

Have fun with Leo - and his mommy and daddy, too.

Arlene Delloro said...

Your cheesecake looks lovely. I'm definitely going to have to try this one. I've been using the same old recipe forever. Time to shake things up. Hope you have a wonderful visit with your little cutie.

Susie Q said...

This looks so delicious and so beautiful too!

Have a wonderful visit with your family and give that sweet Leo
a big smooch!


Joanne Kennedy said...

Oh YUM! Cheesecake is my favorite. I think my favorite is just plain ol' cheesecake. But I wouldn't turn away any kind of cheesecake!

I'm going to be in New York from Aug 23rd through the 27th and I'm not only hoping to have some yummy New York cheesecake but I'm hoping I can spend some time with you too!

Enjoy your time with your grandson..I have no doubt you will have a blast. He is so cute.


Fifi Flowers said...

That looks amazing!
Pop over to my site for a visit and be SURE to visit by Monday post!

Donna said...

Oh my gosh, the cheesecake looks fabulous!

Have fun with your grandson! Enjoy your time off.


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Ohboyohboyohboy!!! Look at all the cheesecakes I can make! Food of the Gods if ever there was one.

Thank you!!!!

And big hello to little Leo!

Lorrie said...

Cheesecake is my absolute favorite Pat! Yours looks like it should be in the pages of a magazine.

Have a wonderful visit to see little Leo! Can't wait to see the photos when you get back!

Marg said...

This looks so amazing. Wow!
I could make it right now, but wait, did you post the calories?
Oh, just forget it and dig in.

dana said...

I hope you're having a blast with Little Leo and his folks!!

LOVE this cheesecake recipe and your wonderful pictures!! My mouth is watering. L, Dana

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

What a wonderful looking cheesecake. Have fun with little Leo.

Lynn said...

But it's so pretty!!
If I made anything that pretty, I'd smack anyone who cut into it!!

I have one word for y'all...Costco.

Love, Lynn

Brenda said...

What a fantastic cheesecake, AND a fantastic blog. You are incredible, Pat! Hope you're having a wonderful visit with little Leo and family...

Anonymous said...

That looks so gorgeous. It must be so healthy with all that fruit that they cancel out any calories. :-) Well that's my theory and why I would have no qualms about 2nds. LOL

CatHerder said...


GMG said...

Hi Pat! TGIF and a holiday here!!
But this blog is a complete disaster for me; cheesecake is my favourite. I used to buy one at Eileen's just before flying out of NYC back home. After 9/11 there was no chance of bringing it home... and now you just show such a beautiful scene and I'm so far away. Please pack a slice... ;))

Blogtrotter is still turning around Vilnius. Enjoy and have a great long weekend!

Pat said...

Oh, I am so inspired to pull out my favorite cheesecake recipe and embellish a bit! Hope your visit with baby Leo is divine. I am going to "meet" my new wee granddaughter soon and cannot wait!

Sue said...

My favorite dessert of all time...anykind of cheesecake...thanks for adding all the variations that you can make...Sue.

Cynthia said...

Now that is the kind of topping I can get behind on any cheese cake.

The Vintage Kitten said...

Stunning! I LOVE cheesecake X

Tatieva said...

Oh là là là là là là !!!
Comme c'est gourmand, tout ça ! J'adoooooooooooooore les cheesecake et j'adore les fraises !
My favorite gourmandise !
J'aimerais savoir cuisiner...
Bon appétit !
Kisses from France

Anonymous said...

It looks so creamy, Pat!

Claudia said...

That is so scumptious - I need to run out and get ingredients. Just gorgeous. This is bookmarked. I may not be able to wait for "an excuse" to make a cheesecake. (Well, there's that needing to lose weight thing that stops me ... briefly). Have a grand time with your grandson. Very special.

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Can you hear my wild applause for this cake from here?!?! BRAVA! It's a beaut, Pat!! And..."rub shortening on the inside and outside of the springform pan to help make it watertight" -- FABULOUS IDEA! I'm going to recycle (and share) that idea for sure.

I just took over a week off from my computer...and as much as I'm happy to be visiting with everyone again -- I loved EVERY MINUTE of my computer-free life! Enjoy it, and especially enjoy little Leo!! :-)

xo, Laura

Strider said...

Dang! i know better that to stop by for a visit and get tempted with one of your desserts. Wow, does that look good!!! I hope Leo and his parents are doing well. Lucky and I are heading to see our grandsons in S.C. the end of the month. Can't wait. I've been really busy traveling and working this spring. More to come I'm sure. It's always a pleasure to stop by and catch up when I can. Blessings my friend. Strider

Unknown said...

It looks beautiful, what a centerpiece. I love the pineapple glaze idea!

Thanks for participating in the April Daring Bakers challenge!

Jenny of Jenny Bakes