It’s that time again. Time to be brave, to go beyond the comfort zone, to slave and cry and drop things on the floor and hope that someone swept recently.
Or maybe not.
This month’s daring baker challenge was a nice basic cheesecake recipe and a loving encouragement to be creative with it. And good thing! Between my trip from hell and the garden starting up again, the month has passed very quickly, and I don’t think a yule log would have really gone so well this month. And as it was, the creativity came from Joey this month. I said cupcakes. And then I asked, Limoncello? And then he said, lemon bar! So I made the lovely (and I do mean lovely) cheesecake recipe, put it in muffin tin, and added the lemon bar top from Alice Medrich’s Very Tangy Lemon Bars. We just didn’t know what would happen. We bit out fingernails to the quick, asking, “What happens when you combine a cheesecake with a lemon bar?” And then we chilled them, relishing the suspense. The next day, we took them out to join us at the sunny picnic table.
They reassured us. They said, “Yes, you are daring, and that is the way to be. Why live on the safe side?”
And I know that now you too are relishing the suspense. How were they, you ask? Go ahead and try!
And now I will tell you how….
First, the formalities.
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
This is Abbey’s really fabulous cheesecake 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 / 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!
This is the recipe for the top of Alice Medrich’s Lemon Bars, cut in half:
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 T flour
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
Stir together sugar ad flour in a large bowl until mixed. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in lemon juice and zest.
This is how I combined the recipes:
I made 3/4 of the cheesecake recipe, and I used Limoncello for the liquor. I used 1 T, but next time I would use 3 T. I filled the muffin tin 3/4 of the way up.
Then I baked them for another 20 minutes. Chilled overnight. And just fabulous. Be sure to check out some of the unbelievable works of art coming in at the Daring Baker’s website. Who knew cheesecake could be so inspiring?