26 April 2009

Daring Bakers - April •

Abbey‘s Infamous Cheesecake •

I was very pleased to see what the Daring Baker’s challenge was this month, something I have always wanted to bake and have never attempted, for one reason or another. This is just one of the many wonderful perks by being a member of the Daring Bakers. It gives me the incentive I need to push past my insecurities, excuses and laziness. If I have any difficulties, there is always a member willing to help with advice or encouragement. Now if I can only manage to stop procrastinating until the day before the challenge is due!

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. It is a versatile recipe, allowing for many tasty and creative ideas. The recipe itself is very easy to follow and execute. Even though I wrapped my pan with foil, the water seeped in anyway. And I should have listened to that little voice inside my head nudging me to add cornstarch to the syrup on top. Shall we just say that the cheesecake was nice and moist after everything was said and done? It might not look so pretty - but it made up for it in taste. It is a recipe that I will try again (and listen to that pesky voice this time).

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake: (My additions and/or substitutions are highlighted in red)

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
(I added the zest of one orange with the sugar)
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
(Heat the heavy cream in the microwave, then add 3 bags of Celestial Seasonings Tangerine Orange Zinger Herbal Tea. Let steep for 10-15 minutes.) Drain and discard teabags.)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
(I used 1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
(I used 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 tablespoon orange extract)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
(I added 1 tablespoon of light rum)

My topping:

1 (15 oz.) can of mandarin oranges in light syrup. Drain oranges and reserve syrup. Place oranges on the plate lined with paper toweling and let set while your cheesecake is cooling. In a small saucepan, heat reserved syrup until very hot. Add 2 bags of the Tangerine Orange Zinger tea. Let steep for five minutes. Squeeze excess liquid out of tea bags and discard. Add 1 tablespoon of frozen orange concentrate, and stir until thawed. Pour into a measuring cup and add enough water to make one cup. Boil over low heat until mixture is reduced by half and is thickened. Cool completely, and spoon over cooled 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.


Tartelette said...

You did a great job this month dear!
Thinking about you and your daughter :)

Arlette said...

This is a very elegant cake
great job!!!!

Andrea said...

Oh how pretty, and what a great idea to use tea as a flavoring!

Grace said...

heck, i think it looks terrific, especially considering that it was your cheesecake debut. bravo!

Malar Gandhi said...

Oh boy...that is some real drool worthy cake I ever seen!!! Yumm!!!

kat said...

I bet the orange flavor was wonderfully refreshing in this cheesecake!

Marija said...

Well, it looks incredibly delicious and beautiful to me no matter what you say! :))

Chantal said...

So pretty, good job!

Nawal said...

Oh what a Beautiful CheeseCake! :-)

glamah16 said...

Love how you infused the tea. The cake looks chocolate based but I didnt see the mention of it in the recipe.Or did the tea darken it?
Great job.

Anonymous said...

I love the addition of mandarin orange topping. What a beautiful cheesecake!

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

A gorgeous cheesecake Toontz. Ooooh, I love the flavouring you paired into it. I write to you as you nibble into the last few slices!! It's lovely!!

Tara @ Feels like home said...

This is gorgeous! I made an orange chocolate cheesecake because I love the flavors. I'm going to have to try your version, too!


lisa said...

Love how you incorporated the tangerine-orange zinger, and it looks gorgeous, especially the way you presented the slice with the candied orange peel. Wish you could have done the candied peel for my cheesecake! :)

lattermild said...

That looks - and sounds - so yummy. I might need to try this variation...