The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. This cheesecake recipe is a very basic recipe, which allows for a million different variations. You can find Jenny here.
I haven't made a cheesecake in a few years- it's one of those things that I like, but hardly ever make. Could be the whopping calorie count!
(I wish the calories were as small as my pics-@#$%^!!- the looked fine on my camera settings. When I downloaded they were too big and insisted on being resized smaller. But they got fuzzy when I tried to make them bigger.Hence the funky looking pictures.)
My version is a pretzel crusted, expresso cheesecake, topped by creamy homemade caramel. The recipe was pretty easy.My water bath did not leak like some others warned. I have to say though that the batter is REALLY runny, (we were warned) but it does firm up nicely. My pretzel crust is good- I have made before in pretzel salad- but here it wasn't as crisp as I would have liked. Maybe because it's baked again with the creamy part on?
The basic recipe for the cheesecake is pretty neutral and could be adapted to savory recipes if you want to go that route. I added a double shot of expresso to mine, and if I hadn't topped with the caramel, the cheesy part alone is not very sweet.
To find out about Daring Bakers click here.
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
I used 2 cups crushed pretzel sticks, 1 stick butter, 3 TBL sugar instead. I prebaked for 10 min @400.
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.
I added a double shot of expresso and cut back slightly on the cream.
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. No prebaking necessary if using Abbey's graham crust.
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.
2 sticks butter, 2 ¾ c. brown sugar, 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup light corn syrup, 1 pinch salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Spray (lightly) a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Heat to 240 for a soft caramel, 245 for a medium caramel, 250 for a firmer caramel that will hold its shape. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.