Sunday, August 23, 2009

A return with cheesecake

I know. I KNOW. I've been MIA for months. The thing is, I've been trying to eat better and that consists of no baking cupcakes or puddings or ice creams. Too much unnecessary temptation! However something started happening recently that will absolutely change my mind: FALL.

I love fall stupid. I sing its praises every year, it seems like. I get excited about pumpkin stuff and warm puddings and cozy autumn harvest-themed teas. So there's no way I'm going to skip baking this fall. To go along with the season, I had a craving for something a little heavier and a little stronger. Cheesecake was something I hadn't made for years (the last was unremarkable) so I decided on that. But regular cheesecake is kind of boring so I went with my favorite: turtle.

I found a highly reviewed recipe by Tyler Florence named The Ultimate Cheesecake. It was your standard with a blueberry sauce on top so I made a few adjustments (taking out the lemon zest and swapping graham cracker crust for chocolate). Then I settled on mini chocolate chips instead of a chocolate sauce, hoping to replicate Lawler's turtle cheesecake as closely as possible. Of course, there's always little things with every recipe...

I watched the video Food Network supplied with the recipe as it baked because I got conflicting reports from the comments left by others. After 45 minutes, Tyler showed what it should look like and boy was it dodgy looking. He said he liked his cheesecake to have a smooth and silky consistency but, to be honest, that's not the kind of cheesecake I like. When I think cheesecake, I think THICK. Like, a solid brick that your fork leaves indentions in and you have to take small bites because it's so strong. This was not that.

And while it wasn't my perfect cheesecake, it still came out pretty good. The chocolate, pecans and caramel couldn't've hurt. I'd like to try another cheesecake because, like the pound cake, I have a tiny compulsion to keep trying things until they turn out perfect...

Adapted from Tyler Florence

2 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate cookies
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel Topping
1 cup semisweet mini chips
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and butter with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

For the Filling:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add sour cream and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well mixed but not over-beaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. I turned off the oven and let it sit inside for 30 minutes (Tyler suggests to just ‘Let cool in pan for 30 minutes’). Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate. Drizzle caramel topping then mini chips and pecans over the surface.

Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water. Wipe dry after each cut.