Daring Bakers April 2009 – Cheesecake Centerpiece
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from JennyBakes.com. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
This month Jenny picked a basic cheesecake recipe, courtesy of Abbey T. The real challenge this month is to take this basic recipe & play with it. Make it unique. Make a showstopper of a dessert. Add flavor, sauces, decorations – dress it up & show it off.
I was excited when I found about this challenge ‘cuz I luv luv cheesecake. The first step was to find out which recipe I wanted to make, which I couldn’t do, so I made 4 different ones. Which ones did I make?
Well, my first choice was The Real Cheezecake in Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo.
My first impression of this one was too much lemon & not really cheesecake. But, after it sat in the fridge for a couple of days, the flavors blended better & yum yum yum! She suggests topping it with a raspberry or carob sauce, I chose raspberry. This cheezecake uses a macadamia nut, coconut & date crust with a cashew, lemon juice, agave & vanilla filing. I served this for Easter & didn’t get a picture of the cut & topped cake because I forgot to bring my camera. I used my silicone tart pan for this one.
My second choice: Lemon Cheesecake from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.
This was a favorite at Easter, oh, did I mention my whole family are omnivores? This one had a great texture & was topped with a blueberry sauce, although she recommends fresh strawberries which would also be very tasty.
Graham cracker crust, nondairy cream cheese filling. The lemon flavor of this one is much more subtle. I used a regular springform pan for this one.
Third choice: Mini Icebox “Cheese” Cake from My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky
This was probably the favorite of the 4 & my hubby’s fav. This is basically a plain cheesecake with nondairy cream cheese and vanilla baked in a graham cracker crust (I didn’t have enough, so I used half graham crackers & half grape nuts). This one has great texture & great flavor. She recommends using the jam of your choice as a topping, I chose black cherry. I used a tart pan with removable bottom for this one.
Last choice: Chai “Cheese” Cake, also from My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky
I brought this one to work with me for our Easter potluck. Well, at work there is a carnivore, omnivores & 2 vegetarians. Everyone liked it! The chai spices in this one are wonderful, great texture, & awesome flavor. I used my mini springform pans for this one, they were cute. I made a couple of muffin size ones too, but ate them before I could take a picture.
I didn’t use it, but here is the challenge recipe:
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 / 383 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 & 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 & sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) & 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, & alcohol & blend until smooth & creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust & tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan & 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, & let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking & cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After 1 hour, remove cheesecake from oven & lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, & then cover & 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 & 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“ wide & really deep, & 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, & chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!
I wish I would have remembered some of these ideas for flavorings because the lavender-scented with blueberries sounds divine! Make sure to check out everyone’s & drool over their mouth-watering flavors.
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 & 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, & a dash of cinnamon – cook until berries burst, then cool)
** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel – take ¼ cup of the heavy cream & 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 & 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 & 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 & 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon & a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves & a homemade caramel sauce.
** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace ½ cup of the sugar with ½ 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 & cored, & poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of “coins” of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, & about a ¼ cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid & simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears & fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts & 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, & 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, & cool as before.