Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake

It's Daring Baker's time again! The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I never get tired of eating or making cheesecake. It's so versatile. And judging by the variety of cheesecakes the Daring Bakers came up with this month, the possibilities are endless.

I made half of the recipe which gave me two 5-inch cheesecakes to play with.

First, I made an Orange and Amaretto with Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake. It was very good, if I do say so myself. I started out by lining the sides of the pan with cranberry halves.

Then filled with the orange amaretto cheesecake batter and topped with cranberry puree. (I've included details of how I flavored the cheesecake below.)

My second flavor was a total afterthought and surprisingly good. Say "hi" to Mr. Banana Cheesecake, his mouth courtesy of a (not) strategically placed burn mark from the upper rack of my oven.

I was amazed at how good this one tasted, and it was so simple.

Both cheesecakes were very tasty, and nice and creamy and not too dense. I will add this recipe to my list of favorites.

Here are the additions/changes I did. Following is the basic cheesecake recipe.

Orange Amaretto Cheesecake with Cranberry Swirl

For a full recipe:
- Zest two oranges. Add the zest to the sugar that will be used for the batter and rub with fingers until sugar is flavored with orange. Add sugar to batter as directed below.
- Juice one or two oranges, as needed to yield 1/4 cup juice. Combine in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons amaretto. Bring mixture to a simmer and reduce to 2 tablespoons total. Add mixture to batter toward the end of mixing.
- Add 1 teaspoon vanilla.
- Cut fresh or thawed, frozen cranberries in half and place around the sides of the pan before adding batter.
- For the cranberry swirl, combine 6 oz. frozen or fresh cranberries with 2-1/2 ounces (by weight) of sugar, 4 fluid ounces of water and seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean to a small pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Boil until the sauce has reduced and thickened, approx. 5 minutes. Cool completely. Place thickened, cooled sauce in a blender and puree until smooth. Drop the cranberry puree by small spoonful on top of the cheesecake (you may have extra). Run a knife through the batter until the desired degree of swirl is obtained.

Here's the puree before swirling with the knife.

Banana Cheesecake

- mash 1-1/2 small, ripe bananas. Add mashed banana plus 1 tablespoon flour to batter after all other ingredients have been added. Mix on low until incorporated. Proceed with recipe as directed.

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 spring-form 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.


Elyse said...

That cranberry swirl is just gorgeous! And I love Mr. Banana--way to own that burn mark. Your cheesecake has me looking around my apartment, wishing I could find a slice somewhere :) Great job!

Little Miss Cupcake said...

Ditto on that cranberry swirl. The flavor combo sounds so delicious. Great job!

Jude said...

Well hello Mr. Banana Cheesecake. Haha. I hate it when that happens. Great post!

Vera said...

Jacque, I love them both! But your Mr. Banana is sure the cutest :)

Rhyleysgranny said...

Oh I love Mr Banana LOL The cranberry and amaretto is gorgeous as are your pics

vibi said...

Wonderful! Totaly wonderful... the swirl of colors is really impressive, and the flavours must have been decadent! Mmmmm...

Truly beautiful, Jacque!

Grace said...

okay, i don't know who abbey is, but i highly doubt she ever made a cheesecake as fabulous as this. great post, jacque--i laughed (mr. banana cheesecake, so clever), i gawked (love the swirls), i drooled. bravo.

Zita said...

Truly ingenius how you create Mr.banana cheese cake out of "mis-action" ;)

Lisa said...

The cranberry swirl cheesecake looks and sounds delicious, but I think I fell in mouth watering love with ' Say "hi" to Mr. Banana Cheesecake'. So cute - and I desperately need a slice..or three!! Great job!!

The Duo Dishes said...

This cheesecake is beautiful! We love a good cheesecake, and the cranberry/orange flavor is fantastic.

Isabelle said...

c'est superbe tous ces tourbillons ! magnifique :)

Anonymous said...

As always, you did a great job. You are a gorgeous baker woman (the food you produce). Wonderful pictures and great variations! Even a bit of humour with mr cheesecake there!

Heather said...

Oh crud Jacque, I accidentally hit anonymous, something about that child on my lap, the above entry was me also!

Natashya said...

I love the face!
Your cheesecakes look awesome, great job!

Anonymous said...

I love the glasses on the banana cheesecake. How fun!

Both flavors sound delicious.

alexandra said...

OH my gosh these both look heavenly. There is nothing like cheesecake. The cranberry swirl is so elegant!

Beryl said...

That cranberry swirl looks divine. Love the idea of the cranberries lining the pan.

Laurie said...

I love food with a face! Cranberry swirl is gorgeous!

Steph said...

That looks so pretty! I can't believe I forgot to resign up and I missed cheesecakE!!

Bunny said...

I love the cranberry cheesecake it's beautiful!! I've never seen a banana cheesecake, I'm keeping that one in mind!!

Engineer Baker said...

Orange, amaretto, and cranberry? Wow, that sounds good. Cute little banana cheesecake too :)

Kimberly Johnson said...

Your cheesecakes look wonderful and I love the flavor combinations you chose!

TeaLady said...

The swirl is beautiful on that cheese cake. Fantastic!! And Mr. Banana has every reason to smile. He looks delicious, too. Nice creations.

Mermaid Sweets said...

Wow, the cranberry one looks so beautiful and sounds delish. I wish I could eat dairy - you DBers are KILLING me today.

ice tea: sugar high said...

oh how I love the swirls and the cranberries. And that star fruit glasses are just the cuttest! Well done!

Lauren said...

Mmm, your cheesecakes look amazing!! I love the Mr. Banana Cheesecake =D.

isa said...

Orange, amaretto and cranberry what a beautiful combination. I never seen a banana cheesecake before. Great job!

Jenny said...

Ooh both of your variations are so unique. I love the end result of lining the pan with the cranberry halves, just beautiful. Thanks for being a part of the April Daring Baker's Challenge!

Jenny of JennyBakes

Jenny said...

The amaretto and cranberry one sounds so delicious and Mr Banana is one cool dude! Great job!

Debbie said...

Love ... love ... love your flavr combination! The finished cheesecake is out of this world. Just wondering what size pan you used?

Sandy said...

now i'm really really hungry for cheesecake! :)