27 April 2009
Daring Bakers Challenge - Cheesecakelets
Strawberry, Raspberry, Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple, Turtle, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Key Lime, Chocolate Coconut Cream, Pumpkin, Oreo, Dutch Apple Caramel, Chocolate Tuxedo Cream, Tiramisu, Dulche de Leche, Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Bean, Kahlua Cocoa Coffee, White Chocolate Raspberry....Have I hit a flavor that tempts you yet? What do these all have in common you may ask? Look no further than the Cheesecake Factory's Cheesecake Menu and you will find these and many other delicious, mouth-watering flavors.
When we last lived in NYC, we had the Little Pie Company right around the corner from us and we went through a phase where we hit that joint weekly for their cheesecake and a few other goodies. Problem was they were a small business at the time and after a few months, I started getting a complex that I was maybe going there a little bit too frequently....that their employees were starting to notice those extra bumps and curves I was packing thanks to their sweet treats, and so I decided to back off for a while (and head to the gym a little more often).
The one offer I would never turn down though was a lunch and slice of cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory in Miami on one of the many monthly pit-stops I used to make there when I worked for Burger King's ad agency. I have many fond memories of dining there with my former colleagues Pat & Holly; we would usually spend a couple of hours there between early morning meetings at BK HQ and the jaunt to Miami International to catch our flight back to NYC dishing about our Clients and bemoaning their reactions to whatever it was that we were presenting that day. Nothing made tolerating even the worst Client meeting better than a slice of Vanilla Bean or Oreo Cheesecake.
I was so ecstatic when the April Daring Baker challenge was announced and low and behold, it was cheesecake! This is hands-down one of my favorite desserts and I will never refuse a slice when offered. (Even when it came on the heels of a meeting where I sampled about 20 different Whopper sandwiches as part of R&D -- true story!).
The other day I was walking past a restaurant in my neighborhood that proclaims it serves the "Best Cheesecake in Paris." They apparently even won an award for it. I have been steering clear of them since. In the meantime, I am happy to content myself with the recipe you'll find below.
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. I decided to reduce this down to cupcake form, or cheesecakelets, and made 4 varieties:
- Abbey's as it is published below which yields a nice creamy slightly lemon-flavored cheesecake
- A Pecan Caramel Variety (Pecan crust with caramel de sel de Guerande topping)
- A White Chocolate & Strawberry/Rose Petal Variety (white chocolate cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries and a strained strawberry/confit de rose petal sauce)
- A Triple Chocolate Variety (dark chocolate crust with a 2-layer cheesecake - milk chocolate and white chocolate topped with milk chocolate shavings).
Here is the recipe. You can make this as a regular size cheesecake or do as I did and render it into cheesecakelets. I halved the recipe and ended up with 12 regular-size cheesecakelets. Enjoy! And many thanks to Jenny for this awesome and so simple recipe!
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (I used crushed Speculoos cookies)
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 (In Paris, you can find Philly cream cheese at specialty cheese stores or the American groceries. For this recipe, I used a mix of approximately 3/5 Mme. Loik fromage nature, 1/5 St. Moret and 1/5 creme fraiche. Next time I will definitely use the Philly cause nothing really compares!)
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 (I used a lined cupcake tin). 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. (If making cheesecakelets, you will want to fill each cupcake liner to just about the very top.) 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 (my cheesecakelets were ready in 21 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 (You really do need to do this. I tried one about 2 hours after it came out of the oven and was not at all happy with the result. After letting them sit overnight in the fridge, they were excellent). Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
Little Miss Cupcake Varieties:
When you throw your cookies into the food processor add in about 1/2 cup of pecans. After the cheescakelets have chilled, top with homemade caramel sauce. Make it more savory by using salted butter or throw in some sel de Guerande - coarse sea salt.
White Chocolate & Strawberry/Rose Petal:
At Step 3 of the original recipe, melt about 100 grams of white chocolate with the cream. Let cool for a few minutes and then stir into the cheesecake filling ingredients. For the topping, slice strawberries, mix with some granulated sugar and allow to sit for a few hours in the fridge. Once cheesecakelets have chilled, top with sliced strawberries and then mix some of the juice that has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl with some rose petal jelly. Pour over tops.
Replace butter in original crust recipe above with about 100 grams melted dark chocolate. For the filling, mix all ingredients except for the cream and divide into two bowls. For the milk chocolate layer, add a few tbsps. cocoa powder to 1/2 cup cream and then mix into one bowl. Use this mixture to cover crust in pan half-way. For the white chocolate layer, repeat as above in White Chocolate & Strawberry/Rose Petal variety and pour this mixture over the milk chocolate layer. Once cheesecakes have cooled, use a carrot peel to make milk chocolate curls for decoration.
**To see more Daring Bakers' cheesecake creations, please visit our Flickr Group : Daring Bakers Look Good**