Cheesecake has always seemed like one of those desserts that is too time consuming, too sensitive, and just too much work for me. Luckily, I joined the Daring Bakers about three months ago to stretch my baking skills. The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. Which is really a challenge for me. Don't scoff, but it just seems like there's a lot to mess up with a cheesecake. Especially when the recipe calls for graham crackers, and I live in France. And even more especially when the recipe calls for cream cheese, and I live in France. After a lot of research, I settled on using fromage a tartiner instead of cream cheese and bastogne cookies for the crust. And voilà, my first cheesecake turned out well! (Although not without its minor problems...)
We had free reign to be creative, so I decided to make a Bailey's Cheesecake with Dulce de Leche and Chocolate. The cheesecake was moist and fluffy and the toppings were a great addition to the flavors. Unfortunately, the Bailey's didn't shine through as much as I would have liked, but the cheesecake was still very rich in flavor. I made a chocolate topping that I ended up having to pipe on because it was so thick...next time I'd like to thin it out a little to make it look a little less uniform in appearance. And finally, I bought a cheesecake springform pan for this, and although it said that it was one piece, I didn't find out that it was actually two pieces until after I baked the cake! This resulted in a soggy crust, but it was still tasty!
Here is the recipe with my modifications, although since I just subbed a few things, you can always do the traditional cheesecake with cream cheese and graham crackers by using the same amounts as the fromage a tartiner and bastogne cookies.
Bailey's Cheesecake with Dulce de Leche and Chocolate
adapted from Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake
2 cups bastogne cookie (or other spice cookie) crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz / 115 g butter, melted
2 Tbl / 24 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
24 oz / 680 g fromage a tartiner, room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs or 4 medium eggs
1 cup / 8 oz / 225 g heavy cream
1 Tbl lemon juice
1 Tbl vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 1/2 Tbl Bailey's Irish Cream
Dulce de Leche:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Hard Chocolate Topping:
5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
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. (You will need more cookie crumbs if you want a crust up the side.) 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. (I did not do this as mentioned above, but apparently, you can also just put the pan of water on the bottom of your oven and bake the cheesecake on a rack above to prevent cracking.)
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 or put in the freezer for a few hours for easier removal from pan. Just cut around the edge of the pan and run the pan over a hot burner for a few seconds to release it. Turn it over onto a plate (if frozen, this will not affect the top of your cheesecake) and then back over onto your serving dish.
6. While baking the cake, you will need to prepare the dulce de leche. Place an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk (remove the label first) in a large stock pot (tall enough to be able to cover the can by at least four inches of water. Fill the stockpot with water so that it covers the can by at least four inches and cover. Bring to a boil and let it boil for 3 1/2 hours at a consistent, steady boil. Keep checking the water level in your pot--if it goes below four inches, add boiling water as needed. After 3 1/2 hours, turn the heat off and let it cool. Once cooled, open your can and enjoy! (**WARNING!!! During the boiling, it is extremely important to keep the can well covered by water at all times or the cans may explode, risking severe burns and a huge mess in your kitchen!!!) --borrowed from The Homesteading Housewife
7. Spread the cooled dulce de leche over the cheesecake. Put in refrigerator to chill.
8. For the hardened chocolate topping, melt the chocolate and the butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir frequently until melted. Let cool and then decorate the top of the dulce de leche layer in whichever manner you choose.
9. Store the cheesecake in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.
If you'd like to check out what other Daring Bakers made, check out the blogroll!