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.

Well… I joined the Daring Bakers website and challenge. All of my favourites blogs participate and I thought it would be fun… and take me outside of my baking box (aka Lemon Meringue Pie). So this month we were challenged to bake a cheesecake. We had to follow the cheesecake directions but could play around with the flavours and we could decorate it however we liked… my problem is that I haven’t taken a picture yet… but my cheesecake sure was taste tested. Seriously delicious.

Margarita Cheesecake

Note: rather than using graham cracker crumbs for my crust, I made a batch of my margarita cookies (see recipe) and crumbled 8 of the cookies (makes 2 cups crumbs).

Margarita crust
2 c. margarita cookie crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp lemoncello

3 sticks of cream cheese (24 oz total) @ room temperature
1 c. white sugar
3 large eggs
1 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp lemoncello
1 tbsp lime zest
1 tbsp lime juice

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

Mix together the crust ingredients and press into a 9 inch springform pan. You should have enough to press just into the bottom of the pan – make more if you want a crust along the sides.

Because you’re going to be baking this in a water bath, seal the springform pan well with tin foil. You want to use enough so that the water doesn’t seep into the pan and make the crust soggy.

Set your crust aside and start preparing your cheesecake batter.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar, and cream until smooth using a hand-held mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next one. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add the heavy cream, lemoncello, lime juice and lime zest and blend until smooth and creamy.

Pour the batter on top of the prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all the air bubbles to the surface. Place the pan in a larger pan (roasting pan) and pour the boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.

Bake your cheesecake for between 45 – 55 minutes (mine took 50 minutes) – until it’s almost done. To judge, you want the cake to hold together, but still have lots of jiggle to it in the centre (not completely firm). Close the oven door, turn off the heat, and let the cake rest in the cooling oven for 60 minutes. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove the cheesecake from the oven and lift it carefully out of the water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, then cover and put in the fridge to chill overnight. Once completely chilled – it’s ready to serve.

This is a really lovely treat – and next time I make it I’m going to add some dark chocolate to it too… a layer between the crust and the cheesecake batter… that will punch it up a notch again!


the 2nd easiest pie…

I know I told you yesterday that the Extra-Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Pie is the easiest pie you will ever make. And it is. But this is probably the 2nd easiest one. This is a pre-baked pie crust kinda pie. So half the work is taken out of it when you are blind baking your pastry.

All you have to do now is make the filling. Super simple.

Pecan Pie
3 large eggs
1/2 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. corn syrup
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. pecans, lightly toasted

Preheat your oven to 325F.

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, syrup, butter and vanilla. Pour the pecans into the batter and stir well with a wooden spoon. Pour the filling into the pie crust.

Bake the pie for 35 minutes. The filling will be a little wobbly but as it cools it’ll set. Serve it at room temperature OR serve warm with ice cream ;0)

And in case you didn’t already know…I LOVE pecan pie

heavenly slices of pie…

My obsession with pies continues. Last night before going to bed I made enough pastry dough for 5 crusts… put them in the fridge to chill overnight and started thinking about what I was going to make today…

Well the first two pies were the always popular Lemon Meringue. :0)

About a month ago I made an Apple and Date Pie from the Golden Book of Patisserie and it was delicious (I know, I need to add the recipe… I thought I had but see that I didn’t)… but I thought, what can I do differently? I ended up with a Pear and Fig pie – complete with pine nuts embedded in the top crust ;0)

Finally I had an extra pie shell to fill… and I found a PECAN PIE recipe! I LOVE pecan pie. I adore pecan pie. So does my father. So as part of my Easter treats I will be bring my dad and stepmother a lemon meringue pie, a pear and fig pie AND a pecan pie. Can I say… who needs chocolate when you can eat pie non-stop over the next 72 hours. I am a happy happy girl! (this is just another reason why Easter is my favourite holiday)

Pie Crust
*use the basic recipe but make sure that you have enough for two crusts. Blind-bake the pie crust. keep the remaining dough. don’t roll it out quite yet… now to make the filling…

Pear & Fig Pie
3 x large ripe pears, cored and sliced crosswise
1 c. dried figs, stemmed and diced
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. fresh orange juice (about 3 med. sized oranges)
zest of 1/2 an orange
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 c. pine nuts
1 egg, beaten

Combine 1/3 of the pears (1 of the pears), the figs, sugar, orange juice and orange zest in a medium saucepan.

Bring everything to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the remaining pears, honey, lemon juice and 1/2 c. of the pine nuts. Combine everything well. Put the filling into the prepared, pre-baked pie crust.

Now, take the remaining pastry dough and roll it out. Sprinkle it with the remaining pine nuts (1/4 c.). Grab the rolling pin and gently roll the nuts into the pastry embedding them deeply.

Roll the top onto your pie – nut side up. Make sure that you pinch the edges well with the bottom crust. With a pastry brush, glaze the top with the beaten egg. Take a fork and poke holes into the top (you want to make sure that the steam can escape while it bakes).

Place the pie in the centre rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 375F. Rotate the pie 180 degrees (bake to front). Place a baking sheet with tinfoil underneath to catch any of the juices. Bake for another 40 minutes (check on the pie @ 35 minutes). Cool for 2 hours on a wire rack.

Sigh. This pie sounds absolutely divine.