Monday, April 27, 2009

The Creamiest Cheesecake

brownie_latte_cheesecake1


Time for this month's Daring Bakers' challenge. Host Jenny of Jenny Bakes presented us with an easy challenge - cheesecake. She gave us the freedom to do any flavor cheesecake and any kind of crust as long as we used the recipe she gave us as the starting point. The recipe comes from Jenny's friend Abbey. Abbey's recipe was very similar to the recipe that I've been using for years. My batter is made with three sticks (24 ounces) of cream cheese, 3 large eggs, 1 cup of sugar, and a little heavy cream and/or butter. Any number of flavors can be added to the batter and, over the last 15 years, I have tried many combinations. The major difference between my usual recipe and Abbey's is the amount of heavy cream. I usually use about 2 to 4 ounces heavy cream which adds some mellow richness to the cheesecake. Abbey's recipe uses a full 8 ounces. Oh my, how decadent! Not that I'm complaining. If you're going to make cheesecake, might as well make the richest, creamiest one you can.

kitchen_w200x180


Many people love cheesecake, but I am not one of them. Most of the time it's too tangy-sour-cheesy for me. Even so, I've baked a lot of cheesecakes in my lifetime and people are always impressed by homemade cheesecake. Cheesecake is not as hard as people imagine it is to make, but let's keep that little secret between you and me.

Since I'm not a fan of cheesecake, I prefer batters with flavors that downplay that cream-cheesiness. I know that defeats the purpose of a cheesecake. One of my favorite flavors is espresso/coffee. I gave up coffee about a year ago due to health reasons, but I can still have one very teeny-tiny cappuccino every few weeks. Having one is pretty much a special occasion for me. I can tell you the exact details surrounding each one I've had in the last 6 months. Can you tell how much I miss drinking coffee? For my birthday last month my husband asked me what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to go to the Blue Bottle Café at the Mint Plaza and share a cappuccino. Hey, what can I say? I'm a cheap date.

Anyway, like I was saying, espresso cheesecake sounded really good. I didn’t want to do a graham cracker, cookie, shortbread or pastry crust, so I decided to make a chocolate brownie for my crust using a recipe from Tish Boyle's "The Cake Book". The brownie bottom was a perfect complement to the espresso bean flecked cafe latte filling. The bottom layer was like a really moist and fudgy brownie and the filling layer was extremely smooth and creamy. It must be from all that heavy cream. That Abbey really knows her stuff. Thanks to hostess Jenny for sharing this great recipe. So there you have it. Another DB challenge under my belt - that makes 24 and counting. I can't wait to see what's in store for next month.

brownie_latte_cheesecake3


The fine print:
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. Please visit Jenny Bakes to see the original recipe for Abbey's infamous cheesecake.


Brownie Bottom Latte Cheesecake
(One 10-inch cheesecake)

Brownie Bottom Ingredients:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I like using 60-72%cacao)
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in 8 pieces
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Cheesecake Ingredients:
24 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup (8 fl oz) heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
2 tsp finely ground espresso beans

Make the brownie bottom:

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 10x3 inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and butter the parchment. Cut two or three 18-inch squares of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap the foil around the outside of the pan.

2. In a double boiler, heat the chocolate and butter until just melted. Add the espresso powder, vanilla and salt, Whisk in the sugar until well combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stir in the flour until just incorporated.

3. Scrape batter in the prepared pan and smooth the batter into an even layer. Bake the brownie for 25 to 30 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs. Place the pan on a cooling rack while you make the filling. Increase oven temperature to 350F.

Make the cheesecake filling:

1. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla extract, espresso powder mixture, ground espresso beans and blend until smooth and creamy. Don’t overbeat.

2. Pour batter into your baked brownie bottom and gently 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. (The foil wrapped around the pan should help keep the water from seeping into the cake.)

3. Bake at 350F for 45 to 55 minutes, until the edges are set and the center is still a little wobbly. You don't want the cheesecake to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let the cheesecake 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.

4. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter (about 2 hours), and then cover and chill in the refrigerator. Chilling it for at least 4 hours before cutting is important. Otherwise the cheesecake won't be completely set and might be runny when you cut into it.

How to remove the cheesecake from the springform pan:

Run a thin bladed knife along the sides to loosen the cake from the pan. Undo the latch of the springform and remove the ring. Run a thin blade or spatula underneath the parchment paper to loosen the cheesecake from the bottom of the springform pan. I like to use an icing spatula for this. Now place a piece of parchment on top of the cheesecake and then place a plate on top of the parchment so that the cheesecake is sandwiched between the cake pan bottom and the parchment-plate. Invert. Remove the cake pan bottom and gently peel away the parchment from the brownie. Place your serving platter on the brownie and re-invert so that the cheesecake is right side up. Remove the plate and parchment from the top.

brownie_latte_cheesecake2

46 comments:

Sara said...

Yum, looks amazing! I love the idea of a brownie crust, and it sounds great with espresso.

rachel said...

The brownie crust sure looks divine.

Nicole said...

I'd post a commment, but I am on my way out the door to buy a springform pan...(running)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a gorgeous choice of flavors! Your cheesecake looks perfect!

Cheers,

Rosa

Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar said...

It looks awesome, Mary! I love the brownie crust... now that's decadent!

breadchick said...

Oh yea Mary! I'm all over a cheesecake that has a brownie for a crust and espresso in my cheesecake.

Dharm said...

brownie crust! Yum!! your cake looks so smooth and lovely. Bet the the espresso tastes great too!

Andrea said...

The brownie crust sounds great and is a perfect match for the espresso cheesecake. This looks absolutely delicious!

Andrea said...

The brownie crust sounds great and is a perfect match for the espresso cheesecake. This looks absolutely delicious!

Megan said...

I bake on the foggiest side too!

Your variation looks tasty and pretty. I'm going to give chocolate and coffee a go...

Hilary said...

Looks absolutely wonderful - especially that thick brownie crust.

Memoria said...

Your cheesecake looks so yummy! I love the speckles of espresso in it.

Nichole said...

That sounds scrumptious! The brownie crust was inspired. Mmmmm...

Jamie said...

Wow great crust idea, your cheesecake looks heavenly!

MeetaK said...

i love the flavor! and the crust - yum!

Lisa Michelle said...

Your cheesecake looks and sounds SO GOOOD! That brownie crust is calling to me! Excellent job!!

Maria said...

Love the brownie crust! Nice job!

Jenny said...

Belated Happy Birthday, I hope you enjoyed your coffee!
I love the brownie crust, had a similar thought for my own.

Heather said...

Chocolate brownie crust and cheesecake with expresso coffee - how wonderful! It's very sophisticated.

Gretchen Noelle said...

Sorry to hear that you cannot enjoy coffee as much as you may like. I think this sounds like a nice treat with a rich coffee flavor for you to enjoy! Great job!

creampuff said...

Nicely done, Mary! I love the brownie base from Tish's book, too!

Allergy Mom said...

How perfect, classic and simple! Libby

Claire said...

Wow...looks great! You really did a wonderful job on getting the layers just perfect and textures just right. Lovely!

Jenny said...

I had to give up coffee a few years ago and can completely relate to caffeine memories. Has your personality changed? I thought I was an extrovert, but it was just the caffeine, heh.

Anyway, I love your take on this month's challenge. The crust has always been my least favorite part of cheesecake, and a brownie would just do the trick. I love that your recipe was so close!

Jude said...

Sorry to hear you're not a big cheesecake fan. Great way to downplay the cheesecakiness for non-lovers!

Engineer Baker said...

Brownie crust - now that's just brilliant. And I believe that coffee belongs in everything. Beautiful job!

culinography said...

Oh my, that is beautiful! And the brownie crust? Oh yeah!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I know I could be happy in this cheese cake. Need to check out this brownie recipe.

Elissa said...

This cheesecake certainly does look creamier than most! I love the beautiful color... I bet this tastes lovely.

Elle said...

Reading your post made me wish SERIOUSLY that I had done a coffee flavored cheesecake. Delish!

Mama Bear said...

Yum. Looks great!!

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

I love what you did with the challenge, the brownie crust & espresso...wow! Wish I were there...sheer indulgence & perfect!!

Abbey T. said...

Oh my god YUM. I love the idea of the brownie crust too. Fabulous job - it looks divinely scrumptious. I too am a sucker for the coffee cheesecake. *drool*

I'm actually "the" Abbey from the recipe. I'm glad to hear someone else doesn't like the sour/cheesy taste of a lot of cheesecakes out there. In fact, that's EXACTLY why I came up with my own, perfect, cheesecake recipe. I don't like the taste of sour cream OR cream cheese, so I wanted something that was creamy without that flavor I hate. I just love all the ideas I'm getting from the Daring Bakers for my next "infamous" cheesecake! :-)

steph- whisk/spoon said...

such a nice cheesecake--beautiful texture, and perfect flavor combo!

Tartelette said...

Oh yes! Espresso cheesecake! Fabulous Mary!
Brownie, coffee and cream....perfect!

Audax said...

One of my fav blogs. Giving up coffee nnnnnnoooooo well on least at you can have some. Great effort and just love the pixs. Yes this is one of the best recipes. Yours from Australia Audax

Kelly said...

Hi,I found your site through blogger and LOVED your version of this cheesecake that you prepared for Jenny’s challenge! The brownie crust (and especially the bitter sweet chocolate selection) sounds so delicious! Honestly, chocolate goes well with anything! Thank you for sharing. If you are looking for more ways to include chocolate in your cooking, go to the Dove Chocolate Discoveries webpage for great recipes and ideas.

ice tea: sugar high said...

brownie and espresso cheesecake.. that's to die for! So sorry you have to give up coffee. Coming from a coffee addict, I know how terrible that must feel.

Chuggin McCoffee said...

awesome! I really like the use of espresso powder in baking, and lately I have been substituting it with fresh espresso from my machine, http://www.thecoffeebump.com/la-pavoni-europiccola-espresso-chrome.html. I will definitely try this!

Cinnamonda said...

What a stylish cake! Espresso filling sounds just perfect.

Kristen said...

Oh, wow. That is just gorgeous!

Housewifing said...

This cake looks absolutely amazing. I'm going to try it this weekend!

Danielle said...

SWOOOOOON!!!!!!

Luna said...

I love the idea of a brownie crust

Diet Plan said...

Hi

This cake is so tasty.

Max mickle said...

My father is a huge fan of creamiest cheesecake and I always try to bake one for him whenever we see my parents. He has yet to be fully blown away by any of the recipes i've tried. Simplicity is key, and yours looks perfect! Can't wait to try it.