Tuesday, April 28, 2009

DARING BAKERS DO CHEESECAKE!


This month's edition of the Daring Bakers was chosen by Jenny of Jenny Bakes who went with cheesecake! Yay for cheesecake!! For most of my life I was never a huge fan of cheesecake. Growing up, my brother was always the one to order dessert after dinner and 99% of the time it was a New York style cheesecake (1% of the time being an apple crisp.) Since I would never order my own dessert (god forbid!), I would always nibble on the crust of his cheesecake because the idea of the actual cheesecake turned my stomach. However, something happened to me in the last few years. I've become a cheesecake connoisseur. Perhaps it's because I enjoy baking cheesecakes so much. They really are my most favorite dessert to make and eat. The cheesecake pops I made last year really did me in. Clearly.

So here's the deal folks. Unlike most Daring Baker challenges, this cheesecake challenge allowed much room for creativity, uniqueness, and personal touch. The point of this challenge was to create a cheesecake flavor/combination using 'Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake' recipe which acts as your typical "basic cheesecake". I went ahead and created girl scout cookie mini cheesecakes. Yes, you heard right! We've got Thin Mint cookie mini cheesecakes, Samoa cookie mini cheesecakes, and a 6inch round Tagalong cheesecake. These. Were. Awesome.
Pictured above is the Thin Mint mini cheesecake topped with a dark chocolate ganache and garnished with Thin Mint cookie. The crust is made with finely ground thin mint cookie and the cheesecake filling has coarsely chopped Thin Mints throughout.

Here we have a Samoa cookie mini cheesecake prepared the same way as the Thin Mint; Samoa cookie crust with a Samoa cookie chunk filling, topped with a sweet vanilla whipped cream and Samoa cookie crumbles. These were seriously fabulous and such a delightful mini treat! They flew off my desk in a matter of moments at work. Oh, and the actual cheesecake recipe? Fantastic! It was super creamy and rich and so incredibly easy to put together. Since I did the mini's, I didn't use a water bath (they didn't need it) but for the 6 inch cheesecake I did and it baked beautifully.

I had leftover batter after making about 16 minis that I decided to make a 6inch cheesecake using a Tagalong cookie crust, followed by chopped up Tagalongs in the filling. I used the same dark chocolate ganache on top as I did the mini Thin Mints. Fabulous.

This cheesecake recipe is a keeper. It will be laminated and posted on my fridge! To all you cheesecake lovers out there, go ahead and make this recipe, you will not be disappointed!
Check out all the other Daring Baker's cheesecake creations at the Daring Bakers blogroll.

*On a side note, if you're really into baking with Girl Scout cookies check out my Samoa Cookie Cupcakes and Samoa Cheese Tart!*

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

CRUST:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

CHEESECAKE
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

DIRECTIONS:
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!


12 comments:

Snooky doodle said...

I m not a fan of cheesecake however yours surely look delicious and would tempt me :)

Dunn said...

I do not know how to bake cheesecake but I looooove to eat cheesecake. It is my weakness.

Me! said...

great flavor ideas and pictures! now that i am looking at other peoples' i want to make another batch and make mini's of all sorts of flavors. girl scout cookies is such a good idea

Emily Rose said...

this is such a cute idea!! i also thought that the recipe was fantastic to work with- so easy and so much room for interpretation. great work!!

Monica H said...

Your mini girl scout cheesecakes are so cute!

TeaLady said...

This is definitely a good cheese cake basic to back to again and again. And I will have to to try all your varieties. Who knew you could be sooooo creative with GS cookies.

Ingrid said...

Wonderful job! ALl three sounds and look really good. (not sure if you showed the 6")
~ingrid

Megan said...

Geez! Now I need to go buy a mini cheesecake pan. This is not good.

Junius Fullard said...

This cheesecake looks good, I cant wait to try it

Pink said...

OMG I must make these and bring them to my old office, at the Girl Scouts! No, we never get sick of the cookies.

Jodi said...

yumm cheesecake :)

Jenny said...

Girl Scout Cookie themed cheesecakes, what a great idea. My mouth is watering!! Sorry I am late in getting to your post. I'm determined to visit each of the 1k+ Daring Bakers who did this challenge. Thanks for being a part of it!

Jenny of JennyBakes