Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Baker's challenge

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

You may have seen the cute button that I added a few weeks ago for The Daring Kitchen. I follow one of the founder's blogs and decided that I should join. I was a little nervous about this. These people make some really fancy stuff! The challenges are not competitions just a challenge for you in the kitchen. If you are interested in finding out more, or becoming a part of The Daring Kitchen, please visit the website. They are a great group of supportive people, that really want to learn from each other. It also costs nothing to join.

I was somewhat relieved when I saw that the first challenge was cheesecake. I wouldn't consider myself an expert but, I have made plenty of cheesecakes. What really intrigued me about this recipe was the fact that it didn't call for any sour cream, but 1 cup of heavy cream. It also suggested using a water bath. I have also done this before, so I was not to worried about it. I just make sure to wrap my spring form pan with two layers of foil. The recipe is for a vanilla cheesecake and the challenge was to be creative with the recipe. I decided that I was going to make a strawberry-rhubarb glaze for the cheesecake and top each slice with a chocolate covered strawberry. I figured that I wouldn't be able to find fresh rhubarb, but I thought I would be able to find frozen. WRONG!!! Well, I didn't want to go to anymore stores, and I needed to make the cheesecake that night. I thought to myself well, now you are really going to have to be creative. I decided on topping each slice with cocoa flavored whip cream and a white chocolate covered strawberry.

The recipe was really pretty straightforward. I was a little shy about using all light cream cheese after the lemon swirl cheesecake I made for Easter, and because there is no sour cream in this recipe. I decided to substitute 1 bar with the light cream cheese.

I brought my cream cheese to room temp, and helped it out a little bit by sticking it in the microwave for a minute. The recipe came together very well, the batter is quite thin, but I was warned about that. I put it in the oven for 45 mins and then shut the heat off and let it cool in the water bath. I was quite pleased how it came out, a nice creamy color with no browning, and no cracks! I then let it sit on the counter for about 45 minutes to cool down. Well, it was 10:00 pm by this point and I wanted to go to bed. It really should have sat out to cool for a while longer. When I put it in the fridge, I knew there might be trouble in the morning. I had covered it with plastic wrap, and when I pulled it out of course the plastic wrap was full of water and so was the cake. This was easily remedied by patting it was paper towels. I did get a small crack in it about 1/2 inch, but that is what I get for not letting it cool completely. The lemon swirl cheese cake that I made actually had said not to cover it, and I think that is what I might do now on depending what kind of cheesecake I am making. You don't need to worry about the condensation then. I also read that you can cover the pan (not the cake) with a paper towel and then place a plate on top.

I whipped my cream and dipped my strawberries. Brian was dying to have a slice. Even though he is not crazy about sweets he does like cheesecake. I cut us each a slice. I walked over to where he was sitting and he had the most unusual expression on his face. I thought to myself it must be bad, it must taste horrible, what did I do wrong?!?! He looked at me and said "This is the best cheesecake I've ever had!" Really?!?! Then I took a bite, OH MY WORD!!! It really was delicious!! The texture is sooo smooth and creamy, not thick and dry. The cocoa whip cream and strawberry were a nice touch. This cheesecake begs for fruit, so I would definetly make some sort of fruit topping. Like maybe blueberry and lemon or the strawberry rhubarb. If you like cheesecake you MUST make this recipe! I warn you will disappear quickly! I did give five slices to my BFF and her family, but I am embarrassed to say there is only one slice left.

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 sugar3 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 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!


Nichole said...

Nice work! It looks delicious.

Michelle N said...

Welcome!! Cocoa whip cream sounds really good! good job!

Kimberly Hurd Horst said...

Yummy! I don't have a sweet tooth except for cheese cakes and lemon bars!

Elissa said...

This looks delicious! It was my first challenge too, and I was scared about what it might be. But you've pulled it off beautifully! Congrats!

Heather said...

Lovely job, so creamy and delicious looking.

Vivi said...

That looks and sounds awesome, Rachel! Nice job pinch hitting in a bind, too! I need to check out Daring Bakers.

I'm looking forward to trying this recipe - we love cheesecake!

creampuff said...

I love reading about people's reactions to the cheesecake! Nice job!

Jenny said...

I love that you captured the moment where you both tasted it for the first time. It really is pretty creamy! What you did with it sounds delicious, especially the cocoa whipped cream. Thanks for taking part in this challenge, and welcome to the Daring Bakers!!

Jenny of JennyBakes

Bread and Jam said...

This turned out lovely. Really enjoyed reading your post. Great job on the challenge! :)

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