Thursday, February 28, 2013

Update and cheesecake again

We've been a bit behind on our blog posts lately, but we're going to try to post at the very least every other week if not more frequently. I haven't had much time to bake since my last post so it's funny that I ended up making a cheesecake again.

I haven't made many variations of cheesecake before, but it's not supposed to be much different as long as you have your base for the cheesecake, which is the normal cheesecake filling. I've used Alton Brown's cheesecake recipe enough that I could be confident the cheesecake would come out well even if something different was added to it. At my sister's request, I made a peppermint white chocolate cheesecake. The only difference was adding melted Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses which are essentially white chocolate Kisses with candy cane bits inside. 


I used the same recipe and proportions as our Orange cheesecake, substituting the orange zest with melted Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses. However, instead of mixing it altogether with the rest of the cheesecake filling, you mix the melted chocolate with 1 cup of the filling. That is if you want to make it with a marbling effect. You can just as easily skip this step and combine everything for a more uniform taste. There is more than one way to marble a cheesecake, but I've written the easier method in the recipe. The way I did it was alternating pouring portions of the different mixtures into the crust and then running a butter knife through the mixtures to create the effect. The problem with this method is that if you've never done it before, like I hadn't, it's easy to unevenly distribute both mixtures as well as mess up the artistic look of the marbling when you try to fix it. 

The peppermint white chocolate cheesecake came out well with the same creamy and custardy texture the regular Alton Brown's cheesecake makes but with a not too overwhelming sweetened peppermint taste. The white chocolate flavor seemed to blend together with the cheesecake taste. I didn't get the marbling done the way I intended, but its slight marbling gives it a nice light pink color. In my eagerness to unmold the cake, the sides didn't pull off the pan well and I unfortunately didn't choose to save extra graham cracker crumbs to hide it and cover the sides. In the end, taste is all that matters and this cheesecake was still really good.

To make things easier, here's the recipe again with the modifications.

18 graham cracker squares, crumbled
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar

16 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (substitute peppermint exact for stronger peppermint taste)
2 large eggs
2 yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
A pinch of salt
30 Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, melted


· Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. 

· In a small bowl, combine crumbled graham crackers, the melted butter, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Place remaining crumbs on a sheet pan and bake both the crust and the remaining mixture for 7-8 minutes. Cool. Reserve additional crumb mixture for sides. 

· In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and sugar until mixture is smooth and lightened. Make sure there are no lumps as they don't disappear after baking. Add the sour cream and mix until smooth. · In a separate bowl, combine vanilla, eggs, yolks, and heavy cream. Pour the liquids into the cream cheese mixture and whisk to incorporate. 
· Melt the Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses in a either a double boiler (placing the ingredient in a bowl, which is placed on top of a pot with hot, boiled water) or carefully microwaving it for a minute, checking it every 15 seconds and stirring occasionally until it is completely melted.
· When the bowl the melted chocolate was in is cooled enough to touch, combine it with a cup of the cream cheese filling
· Pour the rest of the cream cheese filling into the cooled crust
·  To marble the cheese cake, drop spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture randomly over the top of the batter. Using a butter knife or small offset spatula, swirl the chocolate into the cheesecake batter.

· Lower oven temperature to 250 degrees F. Place cheesecake into a preheated water bath, in the oven for 1.5 hours. After 1.5 hours, check the cheesecake to see if it is done. When jiggled, the cheesecake should only slightly wobble in the center. Once done, turn the oven off and open the door for one minute. Close the door for one more hour. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and let it come to room temperature on a cooling rack before storing it in the refrigerator. Allow the cheesecake to set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, but preferably 6 hours to ensure that it will fully set. 
· When ready to serve, run a plastic knife along the sides of the pan and carefully unmold  the cake onto a serving dish or plate. Take the remaining graham cracker mixture and press into the sides of the cake by rotating the unmolded cake over the sink and gently pressing the crumbs into the cake. 
· To slice, place your knife into some hot/warm water and wipe clean each time you make a pass through the cake.  

Extra cheesecake tips:

-If you're using a springform pan for the cheesecake, there's a chance the water from the water bath may seep into to crust. To prevent this from happening, simply put the pan in a larger closed cake pan.

-To help loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan, place the cake in a hot water bath for about 15 seconds before unmolding to serve.

-If you happen to accidentally ruin the sides of the cheesecake while unmolding, you can easily cover it up with the graham cracker crumbs you reserved for the sides, or smooth it out with an icing spatula or a butter knife.

Cheesecake right out of the oven

Cute, fat wedge as the first slice

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