The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. According to Jenny, her friend Abbey T. has tweaked this recipe to it’s now almost perfect state. The basic cheesecake recipe is adaptable to various flavors so you could be making this cheesecake for a long time if you want to try out all the flavors.
For my version, I went for the coffee cheesecake with caramel topping otherwise known as Cafe’ au Lait Cheesecake with Caramel.
Visit the Daring Baker website for the original recipe with the different flavor suggestions. Here is my version (my notes, as always, in red).
Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
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
34 largeEggs – The eggs I had were on the small side so I used 4
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake I used a Tablespoon of Jamaican Rum Cream, left over from the Black Bottom Pie recipe
2 tbsp. Instant Espresso
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 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, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
For the coffee flavor: “Take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. ”
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. (I used a 9″ springform pan to bake the cheesecake in and I wasn’t sure how water tight the bottom is so I wrapped the bottom in foil before putting in the crust and adding the batter.)
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. 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.
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!
** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel – take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website – just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).
I wanted a stronger burnt sugar flavor for the sauce so I used half a cup of dark and half a cup of light brown sugar. If you prefer a lighter flavor, substitute with white granulated sugar.
½ cup Dark Brown Sugar
½ cup Light Brown Sugar
6 Tablespoons Butter
½ cup Heavy Cream
Place the sugars in a heavy bottomed pan and cook over medium heat until melted. Whisk in the butter, a tablespoon at a time until incorporated into the sugar syrup. Add in the heavy cream (it will bubble and splatter) and whisk until it is well blended and the syrup starts to thicken. Remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes before pouring on the top of the cooled cheesecake.