Saturday, April 25, 2009

Daring Baker Challenge: Cheesecake, April 2009







I have joined the Daring Bakers!

Why?

-cough

Why not?

I was a daring baker before I even knew this wonderful little (actually rather large) group of bakers, cooks and bloggers, and lurkers (you know who you are!) existed!

Go me, now I have a uber-good excuse to experiment. Mom thought it was a great idea. So did the people at the party. 

Oh, yeah. I must explain. See, I hate cheesecake. Well, umm, yes, I have never been a fan, to put it simply. I would go for cake and ice cream in a heart beat instead. Actually, I have never ever gone for cheesecake at all. My sole appreciation for cheesecake lies in trips to the Cheesecake Factory restaurant where they make lots of cheesecake (wow, that was a stupidly obvious comment) and dress it up so pretty in the bakery display window. It looks so good I could eat it. But I won't...because, I don't like it.

Anyways. When I saw that my first challenge would be cheesecake I was dismayed. Oh boy, I thought. I need to make a cheesecake, that I won't eat, my family won't eat- what a waste. But then, problem solved! I had a party to go to, a baby shower or "sprinkle" for my friend Courtney. [A British lady actually informed Courtney that it is called a "sprinkle" after the baby is born.] Aha! I had my answer. Bake the wonderful cheesecake, make it pretty, bring it to the party for others to devour and enjoy. Let them taste [test, haha] the extravagant experiments of my effortless cheeeesecake. Wow. Sorry, got a little carried away with my e's. Wonderful idea, good plan, give me a spatula-- quick!

The mini cheesecake resulted from the overflow of cheesecake batter! Keep reading and you'll find out why...


Abbey's [now Meagan's] Infamous Cheesecake


crust:

1/2 cup peanuts

1/2 cup almonds, (whole, unblanched)

1/3 cup walnuts

1 T coconut flour

1 stick butter, melted

2 T sugar, I used 1 T organic brown sugar, and 1 T organic cane sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup butterscotch chips

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

cheesecake:

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

1 cup organic cane sugar

3 large brown AA eggs

1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream, I ended up using a lot more

1 T lemon juice

1 T vanilla extract (or a organic vanilla bean)

 

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients, not adding the vanilla and butter, in a food processor and pulse until ground into a course meal. Take the "crust" and transfer it from the food processor to a bowl and add melted butter and vanilla. Mix well. Press into your preferred pan, on the bottom and up the sides- this can take a few minutes to get it just right. [I used a round non-stick cake pan, but only because we didn't seem to have any pie plates in the house, and I have not yet invested in a really nice spring form pan.] Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer and cream together until smooth. [It is VERY important that the cream cheese is room temperature and soft, otherwise, the creaming process does not go so well. Trust me on this one.] 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 and lemon juice, and blend until smooth and creamy. 

[Note: I bought my heavy cream in a 16 ounce container and while the motor was running slowly poured the cream in. I was so happy and mesmerized at the beauty of all the ingredients coming together (come on- it happens to the best of cooks) that I realized I had poured in way too much. This did not effect the end result of my cheesecake at all. I probably only had about 1/3 cup of heavy cream left when a whole 1 cup was supposed to be left over!]

4. Spread the chips evenly on the bottom of the crust (do not press in). Pour cheesy batter into your crust, on top of the chips, and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. [Do not skip this step!] Place pan into a larger pan [I advise testing this out before, make sure your pans are compatible and they fit] 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. [Don't skip this step either- this is the secret to cheesecake!] After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. [Mr. Cheesecake is heavy.] 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.

If all goes well, it didn't crack!

*Before baking please realize: 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. [Do not skip the chill-stage, either. Mr. Cheesecake must not be rushed.] Please plan accordingly!


I must say (with an ever so slight hint of boastfulness and pride) that this was my first cheesecake and he didn't crack. YIPPEE!

What is even more rewarding is the fact that there were comments like:

"Omg, who made this cheesecake?"

"This is the best cheesecake I have ever had."

"Wow, -munch, munch- this is good, what's in the crust?"

"I need seconds." Well, I admit, I never actually heard that one, but someone was thinking it.


A special thanks to my lovely mother, who was an attentive assistant in the assembly of this cheesecake ;) Unfortunately, we had to run off to the party. So we yanked the cheesecake from the fridge and zoomed off and I styled the cake there. I forgot to take pictures. Imagine pictures of cheesecake with swirled cocoa powder and mini chocolate chips pressed into the top, adorned with almonds and special chocolate inserts. There you have it.

I don't know about you, but this recipe is going into my secret recipe archives. Oh, wait, I just shared it with you. But, just keep it on the DL and don't tell ;) Secret between you and me, ok?


Now we wait to see what next month's DB challenge will bring.


1 comment:

Jenny said...

You thought you hated cheesecake but then blew them away. Welcome to the weird universe that is the Daring Bakers. Hehe. It sounds like it looked spectacular!

Thanks for being a part of the April Daring Bakers Challenge!

Jenny of Jenny Bakes