Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers-April

Yikes! Has it really been a month since I've last posted? A week away, the flu, and a daughter's tonsillec-tomy will do that to a blogger, I guess. Anyway, when I saw this month's Daring Baker's challenge I was excited. A cheesecake, and we could "change it up!" Right up my alley. Not to mention this month was Ad and my 10 year anniversary of our first date (awwwwww!) so it was good timing for a special dessert. After making Ad try something with spinach last month, I decided to make an orange-chocolate cheesecake, which is a combination that we both really love. The recipe was great and tasted awesome, but I second guessed myself and ended up underbaking it (even though I left it in 15 minutes longer than the recipe called for.) I would definitely make this again, to see how it turns out after it bakes for the right amount of time.

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 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.

For my version, I chose to combine crushed Oreos and and butter to make the crust (sorry, I forget to get any measurements.) I pureed a small, drained can of mandarin oranges and 6 oz. of orange marmalade, and added it to about 2/3 (maybe a little more) of the cheesecake batter. In the other portion of the batter I added 6 oz. of melted milk chocolate (leftover Easter candy!) I put the orange batter on top of my crust first, then swirled in my chocolate batter. For the topping, I had originally planned on making ganache, but my neighbor borrowed my heavy cream and wasn't home when I was ready to make it so I decided just to drizzle melted milk chocolate over each slice and then top it with large crystal sugar. Not the exciting decoration that I had planned in my head, but it really was a yummy cheesecake. I think next time I'm looking to make a cheesecake I will refer back to the original recipe and try it out again.

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