It's the end of the month and time for another Daring Bakers Challenge.
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
Can I just preface this post with the fact that I love cheesecake. It is the one dessert that I will hoard and eat the entire pan of by myself. I'm not sure that I should admit this but, I made these cheesecakes on Friday and I didn't let my kids have one until last night. Sad, huh?
We were given a basic cheesecake recipe and were given free reign with our creativity. When I announced this months challenge to my husband, he said, "can't you just make a plain cheesecake?". He is a very plain kinda guy, he won't eat anything mixed and doesn't like his foods to even touch on his plate. So, to appease him, I made a batch of plain vanilla bean cheesecake and then made them in my mini muffin tin so that I could change up a few of the flavors. I made some caramel to swirl through a few, added some chocolate chunks and caramel to others, and made a berry coulis to swirl in the rest. Of course I left several plain for the hubby. I also used a ginger and cinnamon cookie for the crust which gave the cookies a little something extra. Not very creative I know but it is cheesecake none-the-less and so I am happy. I really did want to be more creative but I decided that this month I would only use ingredients that I already had a home, no trips to the store just for the challenge. All in all, this was a fun challenge, it's always nice to enjoy what you bake, and this month I did.
Don't forget to check out all of the amazing Daring Bakers with their unlimited creativity, you will see some absolutely amazing cheesecakes. Also, the Daring Bakers have a new home, so check out the new site while you're at it.
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
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!