The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
While I didn’t wait till the end of the month to do the challenge, I certainly took my time in posting…. Well… I’d be totally out of character if I didn’t trip in after the deadline ended…without offering anymore blah about the how’s and why’s lets just say I really loved this challenge.
To begin with, blueberry cheesecake, that of the classic and now legendary status is my favourite kind. I wallop it every time I have half a chance. Which is everytime we are in a place that can use imported canned blue berries, translated into fancy very expensive places…not to mention cream cheese which is still very difficult to get in india even if you are willing to sell an arm to pay for it!
I’ve always wanted to make it and have scoured the internet and books for recipes. The ones which allow you to use a substitute for cream cheese are overflowing in my bookmarked file. Yeah I am quite the hoarder and never really got down to actually making a cheesecake ever… so when I saw the April challenge, I hoped the dry spell would finally end.
The idea was to be creative….and I went a little berserk… I tried three flavours, cos I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to make. From strawberry, caramel, lemon, chocolate and orange, I weaned myself away and chose black currant, irish coffee and plain simple vanilla. I had a blast. I used a few substitutions and baked mine without the water bath.
I used a mix of curd cheese and tofu and made mine eggless. They turned out great. I will be trying out all the flavours I gave up to choose the ones I finally did. Thanks jenny for a superb challenge. I will think of you every time I make a cheesecake now…
This is the recipe I used. I’ve adapted it from several online sources
Cheesecake (makes 8-10 slices – 8 inch round pan)
For the Crust
1 ½ biscuit crumbs (I used digestive marie biscuits)
2 T sugar
3 T melted unsalted butter
In a bowl, mix the ingredients for the crust, press gently into the baking dish. Set aside.
I made 10 servings using disposable aluminium casseroles. 2 Single serving ones for the black currant and larger ones (to serve 4) for the irish coffee and vanilla.
For the Cheesecake
200 gms tofu (firm is the only kind I found)
1 ½ c curd cheese (in a large strainer, cover with a thin cloth such as muslin and place about 4 cups of curd/ yogurt, place in the fridge overnight to remove the whey, the result is firm like cheese)
2 T corn flour
2/3 C Fresh Cream (low fat)
1 T lemon juice
1 T vanilla essence / extract
2/3 c sugar
I added all the ingredients to a blender jar and pulsed on low for about 8 minutes. Checking in between and adding a Tablespoon of water once. The result was an incredibly creamy mixture with a slight tang (from the lemon juice) that I had to stop myself from licking.
Dividing the mixture into 3 parts, I added the flavours and blended well before pouring it into the prepared crust and baking at 175 centigrade for 40 minutes without a water bath. I left it to cool and then chilled it overnight in the fridge before cutting and serving.
Black Currant: add 1/3 C of black currant squash to the cheesecake batter and blend well, pour into a prepared crust and bake.
Irish Coffee and whiskey: dividing the batter into two equal parts, i added 3 T of readymade Irish coffee sauce and 1 T whiskey to one half and 6 T irish coffee sauce to the other half and poured them into the crust to make a two toned cheesecake.
I loved the black currant and irish coffee. The plain vanilla was too plain when compared to the other two. I should have baked them a little longer I think cos they sort of sank a bit in the middle after cooling. Anyone knows why that happened? the texture was beautiful and creamy. The black currant was in a smaller container and may have overcooked a bit.
Read on for the original recipe here. Do also check out what my fellow Daring Bakers have been upto. The array is stunning!
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!
Some variations from the recipe creator:
** Lavender-scented cheesecake w/ blueberries – heat the cup of heavy cream in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add 2 tbsp of lavender flowers and stir. Let lavender steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes, then strain the flowers out. Add strained cream to cheesecake batter as normal. Top with fresh blueberries, or make a quick stovetop blueberry sauce (splash of orange juice, blueberries, a little bit of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon – cook until berries burst, then cool)
** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel – take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website – just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).
** Tropical – add about a half cup of chopped macadamias to the crust, then top the cake with a mango-raspberry-mandarin orange puree.
** Mexican Turtle – add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce.
** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey, add about a teaspoon or more (to taste) of cinnamon. Take 2 pears (any variety you like or whatever is in season), peeled and cored, and poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of “coins” of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid and simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears and fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.
Some variations from Jenny (from JennyBakes):
**Key lime – add zest from one lime to sugar before mixing with cream cheese. Substitute lemon juice, alcohol, and vanilla with key lime juice.
**Cheesecakelets – put in muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups. Try baking 20-35 minutes, or until still a little jiggly, and cool as before.