The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. The challenge was to take the basic cheesecake recipe & mix it up with different flavorings, crusts, etc...
Believe it or not I don't think I've ever made a cheesecake before so this was a fun challenge for me. It was certainly not too hard but it was great to get to make something new. I asked Matt what flavor he liked & he suggested chocolate. He also suggested using the Ginger Shortbread we had received from The Ginger People for the crust.
This was a great idea. The flavor combination of the chocolate & ginger was really tasty. The ginger in the shortbread really stood out. I was afraid the shortbread wouldn't work great as a crust because it already has so much butter in it but it actually came out perfectly. It seemed to bond together in baking to create an almost cookie-like crust. I used melted bittersweet chocolate to flavor the filling & just a little was enough to add a deep chocolate flavor. To knock the chocolate content up even a little more the whole thing was topped with a chocolate fudge sauce. This was one rich cheesecake!
I made half of the original recipe which was perfect to fill my two 4.5 inch springform pans. I cut the baking time down to 30 minutes.
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake (Chocolate Ginger Version)
(this is the measurements for the full-sized cheesecake)
2 cups / 180 g ginger shortbread
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
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. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
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 and melted chocolate 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. (This was really hard to judge!)
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. Top with fudge sauce if you wish.
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!