Monday, March 29, 2010

What's Cooking: Whimsical Cheesecake

This article was first published in the April issue of the Left Hand Valley Courier.


I like to bake, but my cake decorating skills are lacking. Some of the baking books I own have instructions for creating the sort of flourishes you see on wedding cakes, but that’s not really my style.

So when I got “The Whimsical Bakehouse,” I was pretty excited to see decorating styles that were more, well, whimsical. I started my adventure with the chapter titled “Simple Cakes” with something called Ode to Jackson Pollack.

Before I started on my decorating challenge, I needed a cake, and the Pollack instructions suggested three different cheesecake recipes. I went with the Mocha Chocolate Chip Cheesecake.

The base of the cake is a chocolate cookie crumb crust. Use any handy recipe for a chocolate cookie crumb crust, or take a look at my previous post here. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 10-inch pan.

The book specified a 10-inch cake pan, but I didn’t have one that large, so I used a 10-inch springform pan instead. And really, that’s a little less scary when it comes to unmolding a cheesecake.

If you do use a springform pan, cover the bottom and up the sides with aluminum foil to prevent water from seeping in during baking.

Ode to Jackson Pollack
Mocha Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
Adapted from “The Whimsical Bakehouse” by Kaye Hansen and Liv Hansen

All at room temperature:
2 12/ pounds cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar.

Simmer the cream, take off the heat, and add the espresso powder and vanilla. Stir until completely mixed.

Add the cream mixture to the cream cheese and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, at low speed. Beat just until the eggs are fully incorporated.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Scatter the chocolate chips over the top and swirl them into the filling with a small knife.

Place the pan into a larger pan and fill the larger pan with water to halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake for 50 to 75 minutes, or until lightly golden and set.

When done, let the cheesecake sit at room temperature for an hour or two before trying to unmold it. Before unmolding, run a knife around the edge to loosen, being careful not to break the crust.

Unmold carefully and place the cake onto a cardboard round. Or, if you’ve used a springform pan, just use the springform botton. Freeze the cake until completely set, about 3 hours or overnight.

Chocolate Glaze:
1 1/2 pounds semisweet chocolate, in small pieces
1 pint heavy cream
5 ounces unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
1/4 cup light corn syrup

For Decorating:1 cup each dark and white chocolate, melted separately over simmering water

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Warm the cream, butter and corn syrup in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until butter is melted, and continue heating until just before it comes to a boil. Slowly pour the hot liquid into the chocolate, whisking until smooth. Strain through a fine strainer. This can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator and heated gently before you need to use it.

Place the cake on a wire rack over a sheet pan. Pour the glaze over the sides of the cake first, then over the top. Use an offset spatula to smooth and even out the glaze. Shake the sheet pan to settle the glaze.

Now comes the fun part. Dip a fork into the melted white chocolate and flick it over the cake to create lines and spatters. Do the same with the dark chocolate. You don’t need to use all the chocolate; stop when you like the effect.

Lift the cake from the rack and clean off the bottom edge with a hot spatula. Let the cake chill for 1-3 hours until the chocolate is fully set. Meanwhile, clean the chocolate off all the surfaces where you flung it.

The leftover glaze and the drips on the baking sheet can be saved for later use. Just refrigerate and remelt gently.

2 comments:

CJ said...

Looks gorgeous to me.

Sara said...

Ooooh, I love this! What a beautiful cake - that glaze looks so delicious! :)

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