Thursday, July 2, 2009

April's Cream Cheese Results

I can't believe it is now July and I am finally putting up a blog about April's results! May and June were crazy busy months for me. May was my birthday month (that's right I get a whole month!), I got a new job (nursing assistant), mom graduated from Nursing School; and in June I went on vacation and had my wisdom teeth extracted and then I got a really sick! So, I've been a little behind on my blogging. But better late than never!

April was an easy month for me, because the Daring Baker's Challenage was the same thing I planned to make anyways...CHEESECAKE! The recipe was AMAZING, too. I modified several times and each time I have gotten rave reviews. I made three types: Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Dark Chocolate Mocha, and Nutella. All I did was tweek the original recipe a little.

Here's the original recipe. I included all of my variations at the bottom.***

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar1 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!

Nutella Cheesecake: I just added a whole jar of Nutella to the batter and omitted the lemon juice and vanilla. For the crust I omitted the graham crackers and subbed Oreo Cookies. Everyone LOVED it! My sister's friends said it was "Olive Garden Cheesecake Good!"

Dark Chocolate Mocha: I warmed the cream up and added 2 tbsp of instant coffee. I then added a whole bar of melted Dark Chocolate to the batter. I omitted the lemon juice. For the crust I omitted the graham crackers and subbed Oreo Cookies.

I added a decorated touch by added vienna waffer sticks around the the cheesecake. I then covered it in with a dark chocolate ganche.

I made it for a Princess House Party my neighbor was throwing and one (older) lady said that eating my cheesecake was like having a "sexual experience!" How funny is that?!

Peanut Butter Cup: I omitted the lemon juice and added 1 Cup of homemade peanut butter. I then covered it in with a dark chocolate ganche. For the crust I omitted the graham crackers and subbed Oreo Cookies. I made it for my friend's bridal shower. Everyone LOVED it. My mom said it was "sooooooo good!" (She's a Negative Nelly, so that it is the ultimate compliment!)
I'm not the only one who has been busy. Cristine of Cooking with Cristine was a little late too. She made some amazing Lemon Curd and Cream Cheese Muffins. Make sure to check out her blog.
Lemon Curd and Cream Cheese Muffins
6 ounces flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 ounces sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
5/8 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
4 TBSP butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons lemon curd
1/4 teaspoon vanilla2 ounces cream cheese
3/4 ounce powdered sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 ounces powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a muffin pan with paper cases.
Sift flour, baking powder and sugar together.
Add lemon zest.
Mix together the milk, egg, butter, lemon curd and vanilla.
Mix together the cream cheese and icing sugar in a seperate bowl.
Make a well in center of the dry ingredients, quickly stir in the wet ingredients using no more than 12 strokes.
Put 1 tablespoon of the muffin mix into the base of the muffin pans.
Pop a fraction of the cream cheese mixture on top and then cover with the remaining muffin mixture.
The tins should be almost full to the top.
Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Prepare the glaze by mixing the icing sugar and lemon juice together.
Remove the muffins from their tins, cool for five minutes and then drizzle with the glaze.

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