Tags: baking, cheesecake, dessert
Happy New Year! After the rush-rush of the holidays, things seemed to have returned to normal around these parts. I’m back to my regular days off from work, and even at home, it’s back to my regular living room. I took down the Christmas tree yesterday. Sad, but it was becoming more cactus than pine….so dry and prickly. My vacuum smells like it has a built-in air freshener thanks to all the needles that are whirring around in there.
TWD may have made it through the book as a group, but I still have a few recipes left to catch-up on before I can personally say the same. One of them is this Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte that was chosen a couple weeks before I joined on. I have been wanting to make this for four years…yes, I’m a little slow to get moving. Since I needed to come up with a dessert for Christmas dinner, I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally try it out.
I liked telling my dinner guests that we would be having a ”torte” after dinner…made it sound super fancy and exotic. But this really is a familiar dessert–a slim and elegant cheesecake. It had the extra step of making a dough crust (rather than a crumb one), but the cheesecake batter itself was simply whizzed in the food processor. That’s my favorite way to mix cheesecake batter, actually, because you never get any lumps. A layer of jam hidden in the middle (I used some of my homemade plum jam) made a nice surprise when I cut the first slice. Because it wasn’t t four inches tall like a NY-style cheesecake, I didn’t feel uncomfortable eating it after a big dinner.
This recipe was so nice, I made it twice! I had to make up for that whole four years late thing, I guess. Since, I’d made a half recipe the first time, I still had half the ingredients remaining to do another small cake. For the second go-round though, I put my own little twist on it. This time I used a crumb crust (made from some gianduja cookies I took home from work because we…ummm…screwed them up…it happens sometimes). And instead of spreading on a layer of jam, I mixed a couple tablespoons of nutella (really a single packet of Justin’s) into the batter. I didn’t know how intense the flavor would be, so topped it off with a little hazelnut ganache, which also handily disguised the little crack that formed in the middle. It was New Year’s Eve, so I tossed on some stars.
I think this recipe was picked so early on, that there wasn’t really a host-post system set up yet, so here it is…
Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte– makes a 9″ cake
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
for the crust:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (6 oz) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
for the filling:
1/3 cup thick berry or cherry jam
9 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz (1 cup) cottage cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)
-Butter a 9-inch springform pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
-Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse just to blend. Toss in the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir the egg yolks and vanilla together with a fork, and, still pulsing the machine, add them and continue to pulse until the dough comes together in clumps and curds – restrain yourself, and don’t allow the dough to form a ball.
-Turn the dough out onto a work surface. If you want to roll the dough, gather it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about 20 minutes before rolling. Or simply press the dough into the pan. The dough should come about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the springform. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
-Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
-Fit a piece of buttered aluminum foil against the crust, covering it completely. Fill the crust lightly with rice, dried beans or pie weights and slide the sheet into the oven. Bake the crust for 20 minutes or so – you don’t want the crust to get too brown. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the filling.
-Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
-Stir the jam, and spread it over the bottom of the crust – it’s okay to do this while the crust is still warm.
-Put the cream cheese and cottage cheese into the food processor and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times, for 2 minutes, until you’ve got a smooth, satiny mix. Add the sugar, salt and spices and process for another 30 seconds. With the machine running, add the eggs and process, scraping the bowl as needed, for a final minute. Pour the filling over the jam.
-Bake the cake for 60-70 minutes, or until the filling is uniformly puffed and no longer jiggly. Gently transfer the springform pan to a cooling rack and allow the torte to cool to room temperature, during which time the filling will collapse into a thin, elegant layer.
-Run a blunt knife between the crust and the sides of the pan, then open and remove the sides of the springform. If the sides of the crust extend above the filling and you don’t like this look, very gently saw off the excess crust using a serrated knife. Chill the torte slightly or thoroughly before serving and, if you’d like, dust the top with confectioner’s sugar. Wrapped well, the torte will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Happy New Year, my friends! Here’s to a 2010 full of sweetness and happiness!
So, how did you ring in the new year? There was a time when I’d stay out all night, but I can’t toss ‘em back quite like I used to, so these days I like to keep it low-key…make a nice dinner and drink champagne cocktails at home. Part of last night’s celebration involved Dorie’s Low and Lush Chocolate Chessecake. I added my own chocolate and sour cream topping, mainly so I’d have a nice shiny surface on which to place the edible gold stars I found not long ago. Pretty cute, but I did have to go through the tiresome task of applying each one individually with tweezers.
This cheesecake was made my favorite way (which is also the easiest way to lump-free batter, if you ask me)– in the food processor. It baked up creamy and smooth and pretty, but I have to say that I prefer the bright freshness of fruit, rather than chocolate, with my cheesecake. For that reason, I probably wouldn’t make this one again just for us, but if I had a guest coming over that simply adored chocolate cheesecake, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate.
I was this close (picture me squinting while holding my thumb and index finger about a milimeter apart), this close to skipping this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge. See, I have done cheesecake one, two, three, four times here already. One of those was even with the DBs last year. I thought about it for awhile, and then I decided that since Jenny from Jenny Bakes basically gave us free reign to modify her chosen cheesecake recipe, I may as well make some tweaks and play along.
I’ve had goat cheesecake in restaurants before, but never at home, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Fresh goat cheese is pretty similar in consistency to cream cheese, and I figured I could do a straight-out swap with the two. I settled on a combo of half goat cheese and half cream cheese…that way it wouldn’t taste too barnyardy.
R and I are just a family of two, so we didn’t need a several pound cheesecake on our hands (or our hips). I scaled back the recipe to a third of its original size, and decided to bake off little individual cakes. I used 4-ounce aluminium foil cups, and got four servings from the batter.
I think cheesecake is quite a heavy, rich dessert, and I don’t like it further bogged down with too many add-ins. A little fruit sauce spooned on top suits me just fine. Here, I made an easy spiced cherry compote. I simply took a jar of tart cherries in light syrup, stained the syrup into a pot and reduced it a bit with half a cinnamon stick and a couple of cardamom pods. Once off the heat, I fished out the spices and stirred the cherries back in.
This was quite a nice change of pace. The cheesecakes had what I would call a “delicate goatiness.” Not too overpowering, and nice with the cherry sauce. Check out Jenny Bakes for the original recipe, and visit the new Daring Kitchen site to see what everyone else is up to!
Goat Cheesecake- makes 4 individual-size cheesecakes
modified from Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake
Note: I used Anna’s Almond Cinnamon Thins in the crust and 1/3 less fat cream cheese (that “Neufchâtel” stuff) in the cheesecake base.
for the crust:
2 oz graham cracker or wafer cookie crumbs
1/2 oz butter, melted
1/2 t sugar
pinch of salt
for the cheesecake:
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz fresh (not aged) goat cheese, room temperature
1/3 c sugar
pinch of salt
1 t lemon juice
1/3 c heavy cream
1 t vanilla extract (or small amount of vanilla bean seeds)
-Preheat oven to 350°F (Gas Mark 4 = 180°C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
-Spray four 4-ounce ramekins or aluminum foil cups with non-stick cooking spray. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into the bottom of the cups. Place cups on a sheet tray and bake for about 8 minutes, just to set the crusts. Remove sheet from oven and set crusts aside.
-Process the cream cheese and goat cheese in a food processor until smooth (don’t forget to scrape!). Add the sugar and pinch of salt; mix and scrape again. Do the same with the egg, then add the lemon juice, heavy cream and vanilla bean seeds or extract and process until smooth and fully combined.
-Spoon batter into prepared crusts and gently tap the sheet tray on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Remove the cups from the sheet tray and place them in a small roasting pan or a baking dish. Pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake cups.
-Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until they are almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cakes to hold together, but still jiggle in the center. You don’t want them to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for another 20 minutes. This lets the cakes finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that they won’t crack on the top.
-After 20 minutes, remove pan from oven and lift the cups carefully out of water bath. Let them finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, they are ready to serve.
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
When I saw that Anne of AnneStrawberry had chosen Dorie’s Tall and Creamy Cheesecake for TWD, my first reaction was something like “errrgh.” Now, I love me some cheesecake (one of my favorites can be seen here), but I didn’t know how I’d make it fit into my holiday eating plans. Then I realized that my holiday eating plans basically boiled down to eating as much as possible, so cheesecake would actually fit in quite nicely.
I did jazz up the basic recipe to make it a bit more festive. Rather than a graham cracker crust, I made a gingersnap one. Then, I topped each piece with homemade cranberry sauce (because I love it, and must have it more often than just at Thanksgiving).
This cheesecake is fantastically good! Thanks, Anne and, it probably goes without saying, Dorie! I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese (you know, that “Neufchâtel” stuff) to make mine. Combined with full fat sour cream, it was just perfect. One more note: I like to use the food processor, rather than a mixer, to make cheesecake batter. It still requires a scrape or two, but as long as your cream cheese and eggs are room temperature, you will never get a lump. Oh, yeah, I also wanted to say that a half recipe works nicely in a high-sided six-inch springform.
Did anyone find the instruction to let the cheesecake “luxuriate in its water bath” amusing? I was jealous– I would like to luxuriate in a water bath!
Happy New Year!!
I must admit that I almost skipped making these cheesecake pops, this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. Even though I went out and searched around for lollipop sticks at the beginning of the month, I hadn’t really been in a cheesecake mood. Then I realized that the photo opportunities here were too good to be missed! The recipe, from the book Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor, was chosen by co-hostesses Deborah from Taste and Tell and Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms.
I found a recipe calling for five bars of cream cheese to be a bit much to swallow (literally). I scaled the recipe way back to just one bar and baked it in a small loaf pan. I put the batter together my favorite way– in the food processor. As long as all the ingredients are room temperature, you will never get a lump. It baked up nicely, but even the tiny amount that I made took about 20 minutes longer than the suggested time.
After a night in the fridge, I used an ice cream scoop to form the set cheesecake into rough balls, and put them into the freezer for half an hour before reshaping them a bit. They still came out looking a bit…ummm….individual. Not that that’s a bad thing! The sticks are really wooden craft sticks (I had no luck finding the paper ones here), and I loved their fun colors. The packet said non-toxic, so let’s just hope that’s right!
I’m not embarrassed to say that hundreds and thousands are my favorite cake decoration! Just looking at them makes me smile!
I decided to roll a couple in some almond cookie crumbs mixed with a little cinnamon to get kind a cheesecake crust thing going on. In the center of these ones, I managed to hide a blob of strawberry jam. Sneaky!
The cuteness factor is unbelievable, and they taste pretty good too! Just what I needed put myself into a cheesecake mood! Thanks Deborah and Elle! You can find the recipe for the pops on Deborah’s site. I’ve looked at a bunch of posts, and the DBers did a beautiful job this month, so please check out the DB blogroll!
Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake–doesn’t that just sound so good? This Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was hand-picked for us by Jaime of Good Eats n’ Sweet Treats. I like all kinds of cheesecake, but I’d never made one quite like this before. Usually I do the standard graham cracker crust and regular base, with maybe some type of berry coulis swirled in (here’s an example). This one has a gingersnap crust supporting a cheesecake sweetened with brown sugar and cider. And there’s a layer of caramelized apples hiding inside!
I was quite pleased to remember that on a trip to IKEA a couple months ago I’d bought a package of Swedish gingersnaps, and they were still unopened in my cupboard. Also, as we roll into fall here in the southern hemisphere, we are now getting “new season” apples at the market…much better than ones that have been sitting around for nine months. So all systems were go for making this cheesecake! I do often have a hard time judging when a cheesecake is ready to come out of the oven (quiche and brownies also torture me this way). Mine didn’t crack on the sides as per the instructions, but it seemed fully set, so I crossed my fingers and took it out. I was worried about overbaking it, too, since I’d halved the recipe and made a six-inch cake.
Seems like it came out just fine. I had some apple jelly in the fridge, so once it was cool, I glazed the top of my cake for a little shine. I love how high up the sides the crust came. The spices (cinnamon and ginger in the base) were just right, and the cheesecake was really creamy.
This recipe is from the book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, and you can find it here on Good Eats n’ Sweet Treats. It’s really good, so thanks Jamie for choosing it! Also check out the blogroll on the Tuesdays with Dorie site to see all of our cream cheese creations this week.
For my final project with the homemade graham cracker crumbs in my freezer, I decided to bake cheesecake. It had been forever since I had made or even eaten cheesecake, and luckily Philly is sold over here, so it sounded like a good plan. And I thought I would make it pink by adding some raspberries.
I started with a recipe for blueberry swirl cheesecake from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics Book 2, which I’ve made several times and particularly like because the mixture comes together lump-free in the food processor. Then I added a vanilla bean to the cream cheese mixture, changed the fruit swirl to raspberry, changed the base and changed the baking method. Now is it my own recipe? I think so.
Raspberry Cheesecake- makes a 6-inch cake
Note: If you want some extra sauce to top your finished cheesecake, make a double batch of the raspberry swirl sauce. Then use half in assembling your cheesecake and save the remaining half in a jar in the fridge for when you serve the cake.
for the base:
2-3 T unsalted butter, melted
2 T sugar
1/8 t cinnamon (optional)
pinch of salt
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
for the raspberry swirl:
110 g fresh or frozen raspberries
2 T sugar
small splash of water
for the filling:
300g cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 T sour cream
1/2 cup superfine sugar
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
-for the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Combine melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, salt and crumbs in a bowl. Press into the botton of a 6-inch springform pan and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Cool crust slightly.
-for the raspberry swirl: In a small pan over medium low heat, gently cook the raspberries with the sugar and water until the berries begin to break down, the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened a bit. Squish up the berries a little and push the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds. Set aside to cool.
-for the filling: Process the cream cheese in a food processor until smooth (don’t forget to scrape!). Add the sour cream, egg, sugar and vanilla bean seeds and process until smooth and fully combined.
-to assemble: Brush sides of the springform with a little softened butter. Wrap the outside of the pan with a double layer of foil. (The cake bakes in a water bath, and doing this will help keep water from seeping into the cake as it cooks.) Pour the filling over the graham cracker base. Drizzle the raspberry sauce over and swirl gently with a butter or pairing knife. Create a water bath by placing the cake tin in a slightly larger roasting pan or baking dish. Carefully pour hot water halfway up the sides of the springform. Bake at 280°F/140°C for a little over an hour, until the edges look set but the center jiggles slightly. Let cool on a rack, then cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving.