Daring Bakers: Cheesecake on my mind

April 27, 2009 de Anda - 12 Comments

This month’s DB challenge is yet another challenge indeed. Again, we were only given a theme: cheesecake and we just had to play with it in terms of flavors and shapes and decorations. This is indeed my kind of game. The only problem I have in the kitchen (this was no exception) is deciding on what flavors to use for each and every one of my deserts. So the cheesecake was on my mind for quite some time. I would even wake up happy that I know the winning flavors and when I started putting them down something wouldn’t fit. And there we go again.
But after I made a mango mousse cake last week (recipe will come soon), I rediscovered my lost love: the mango. Thus, I will get back to the mango and eat/ use it more often as I also did for this cheesecake.

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

The suggested recipe
Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake:

For the crust
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (150 g home-made graham cracker crumbs)
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted (55 g)
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cheesecake
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature (I used part mascarpone and part cream cheese)
1 cup / 210 g sugar (150g)
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice (did not use this)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake 15 g Earl Grey leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C) (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!

My procedural changes (the quantity changes are marked above)

* I baked the cheesecake at 150 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes
* I did not use a water bath, but I placed a pot of hot water in the oven to minimize the cracking
* I flavored the cheesecake with Earl Grey. I brought half of the cream to a boil, added the Earl Grey leaves and left it covered for 10-15 minutes. Strain the cream, let it cool and then proceed with the cheesecake.

For the garnish
Poached mango dices in rose bud syrup
350 g mango diced (2 medium fruits)
450 ml water
50-75 g brown sugar
15-20 rose buds
1 vanilla bean
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp transparent gelatin

Place all ingredients, except the gelatin in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Bring the heat down and let it simmer for 15 minutes (the mangoes should soften a little but maintain the bite). Drain the fruit, let them cool and place over the cheesecake.
Use the boiling syrup to prepare the glaze that will be poured over the fruit.