April 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge – Cheesecake Centerpiece

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.  I was really happy when I discovered this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was cheesecake.  I love cheesecake, and I haven’t made one in a while.  We were encouraged to be creative and play with the recipe.  While I would’ve liked to have made this with a crapload of chocolate, caramel, or something else of the sort, my husband is more of a purist when it comes to cheesecake…nothing fancy or outrageous.  The bottom line was I couldn’t eat a whole cheesecake on my own (I could have, but my ass which would’ve been sure to expand wouldn’t have been thanking me), so I had to concede and go rather basic.  Ultimately, it turned out delicious!  The texture was very creamy and light.  This was a great recipe.  It was a winner with the hubby as well, so I plan to use it again and will experiment with other flavors/combinations.  Thanks to Jenny for hosting this month’s Challenge!  Please also visit other Daring Bakers’ blogs to view their delicious creations.

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I didn’t use a water bath as the recipe directed and opted to place a shallow container of water on a rack beneath the cheesecake.  Here it is after cooling in the oven.  Not one crack on this baby!  I was happy about that :). 

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I served it with sliced strawberries with a bit of sugar added to them.

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake

Ingredients

crust:

  • 2 c graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract

cheesecake:

  • 3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • the innards of a vanilla bean
  • 1 T vanilla-flavored vodka

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Place one rack in the middle of the oven and the other rack under it.  Fill a shallow bowl with water and place on the lower rack.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into the bottom and up the sides of a greased springform pan.  Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-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, vanilla bean innards, 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.

5. Bake for about 1 hour 20 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. 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.

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Published in: on April 27, 2009 at 1:21 pm  Comments (28)  

February 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge – Chocolate Valentino and Coffee Ice Cream

This was my first Daring Bakers Challenge.  The Daring Bakers are a group of mainly food bloggers who make a “challenge” chosen by two members and blog about it.  It’s all secretive as far as they have their own private forum where they post info about the challenge and where members can discuss them.  We all have to post our completed challenge on our blog on the same day…no earlier!  It’s really fun!  I figured it would be a good way for me to try new recipes and perhaps meet some fellow bloggers. 

Here’s the gist of this month’s challenge:  The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.  We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

I was pretty excited when I got the info for this month’s challenge.  I’ve never made a flourless chocolate cake before.  Oh I’ve drooled many times over the thought of it, so this was a especially fun for me.  I couldn’t believe there were only three ingredients.  I cut the recipe in half and baked it in muffin cups.  It turned out well!  The finished product looked like a brownie, but it wasn’t nearly as dense.  That doesn’t mean it wasn’t rich :)!

Another component of the challenge was to make ice cream to serve with the cake.  They gave us recipes for two versions of vanilla ice cream to use or we could use a recipe of our own choosing.  I decided to make a different version.  I thought what would be better than coffee flavored ice cream to go with the rich chocolate cake?  I don’t have an ice cream maker, so I had to improvise.  They provided us with a link to the always awesome David Lebovitz’s website (a very good food website I might add) on how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker.  Worked like a charm!  Knowing how easy it is to make it this way I might have to experiment with other recipes.

I used two types of chocolate:  Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet and 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Bars.  Here’s the chocolate and butter in the double boiler melting:

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I couldn’t help but include this…the chocolate looked too good!

Here’s the finished product in the muffin pan:

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 And here’s the cake and the ice cream together:

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All I have to say is holy crap….this was sooooo good!  The cake was very dark chocolatey, which is my favorate type of chocolate, and the coffee ice cream had a subtle coffee flavor which paired well with the cake.  Overall, a great success!  I can’t wait till next month’s challenge.

Chocolate Valentino

Ingredients

  •  16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
  • 5 large eggs separated

Directions

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling, butter your pan.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C. Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Coffee Ice Cream (Adapted from All Recipes)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

  • 1 vanilla pod

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 2 cups whipping cream

Directions

1.  In a saucepan, stir sugar, cornstarch, coffee and butter until blended.  Cut the vanilla pod in half, scrape out the seeds, and add both the pod and the seeds to the saucepan.  Stir in the milk.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from the heat and cool completely.  Stir in the condensed milk.  In a mixing bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form; fold into milk mixture.  Pour into a 9 x 13 inch pan and cover with plastic wrap.  Follow these instructions from David Lebovitz’s website on how to freeze the ice cream to complete the recipe.

Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 1:46 pm  Comments (16)