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Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge: Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I love cheesecake and make it all the time. I usually stick with vanilla cheesecake with a fruit topping and graham cracker crust or my triple chocolate cheesecake with whipped cream or strawberries or both. It is not often that I make any other variation on cheesecake. This was a great opportunity to break out of that shell.

I was strongly tempted to make this one into a savory cheesecake by removing the sugar and adding some crushed garlic to the filling, making the crust out of pine nuts, using vermouth instead of liqueur and topping with an artichoke heart and hatch chile type dip. Rich thought I should do that, too, but I didn't really have any place to serve it and I don't think we could have eaten it all. Dessert, on the other hand, we could eat through the week after dinner. So, sweet it is.

If you try my savory idea, let me know how it turns out. I will try it when we have a party to attend and are asked to bring something. I would also cook it in a larger than normal pan as well, so the savory cheesecake isn't too thick to eat on bread or too rich to finish.

So anyway, I have strong feelings about how to cook cheesecakes after many years of making them. I don't do the water baths. I've never had it work as it is supposed to and, instead, end up with a soggy crust. So, I baked this for a little longer at a lower temperature, 300 degrees, then cooled in the oven as per the instructions.

I wanted to make a mango ginger topping, I thought it would look really beautiful and taste lovely, but our mangoes didn't taste all that nice, so they are being diced into a tropical fruit salad for dinner later this week. Rich thought I should still do it, just because it would be a nice thing to look at, but I could not compromise the flavor for appearance. So, I made a bananas foster type topping with muscovado sugar, loads of butter, Grand Marnier and Rum. Besides, I was able to flambe, and that is always impressive.

This is the only photo that really showed any flame at all. I ended up redoing it twice to try to get the photo, but we couldn't get a good one. So just take my word on this.

I made an almond crust rather than a standard cookie or graham cracker crust. We were given a choice on what liqueur to use and, as I was using Grand Marnier in the topping, I chose to use Grand Marnier in the filling to repeat that flavor (the recipe for this and the almond crust are included below). I like orange and banana together.

I still think I prefer my old cheesecake ways. Perhaps I am getting old and crotchety. This was a nice distraction from vanilla or chocolate with berries, though, and tasted great. Next time, I think I would reduce the flour in the crust and replace it with more almond meal.

Nut Crust

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons almonds, finely chopped
12 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Drizzle with butter and stir to combine. Press into the bottom and sides of a springform pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is slightly browned. Set aside to cool on a rack until ready to fill.

Banana Topping

1/2 cup butter
1 cup muscovado sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
4 bananas, sliced
1/4 cup dark rum

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a skillet. Place the pan over low heat either on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the Grand Marnier, then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, spoon the topping over the cheesecake and serve immediately.

Thank you Jenny for this fun challenge! It forced me out of my cheesecake rut and gave me even more ideas to play with another time.

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Oh, I bet this was divine! Bananas Foster and cheesecake? Yum!
The cheesecake part looked heavenly, the banana part I'll pass on :D
Now that triple chocolate one...mmmmmmmm
I thought I had posted the triple chocolate cheesecake recipe before, but I may not have. It is definitely posted in my notes on facebook, though. If you search on that, you should be able to find it. :)

Nicole: I've been trying to comment on your blog and for some reason haven't been able to do so. If you see this reply, first, thank you, second, I have been praying for your upheaval. I enjoy your blog and cooking.
Thank you so much. I just now saw this response, but I very much appreciate your prayers. Are you still having problems commenting on my blog?
Hi Nicole,

I am still have trouble posting to your blog. I know part of the problem is a known issue with Firefox, but Safari won't let me either. I wanted to pass on a Challah recipe that we have really enjoyed when you posted about making some. If you e-mail me, I will just e-mail it to you.
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