So this was my first Daring Baker's Challenge ever! I decided to make this one at home for Easter weekend since my roommate had sworn off cheesecake for a while. You might remember that we dubbed February "Endless Cheesecake Month" and sadly she got her fill for a while. Seeing as it was Easter weekend, and that my father is a notorious cheesecake-hater I opted for something a little more acceptable to his palate and for the occasion. Carrot Cake Cheesecake: simple, garden fresh, and my father approved.
With the help of my professional cake baking grandmother we whipped up a classic cake worthy of peter cottontail's garden; and that is exactly where we placed it! Well, okay, no we put it in one of our many garden scapes for photographing. After pictures, I had several generations of women (me, grandma, stepmother and her mother)stuffed into our tiny galley kitchen filling our faces with cheesecake and talking about what to cook next in between bites of carrot. We nibbled quickly, weirdly resembling rabbits, so as to avoid stares and condescending grunts from the men folk. You see, we had just eaten breakfast (cream biscuits, eggs, bacon, fruits etc) and after photo staging and cheesecake baking we thought we deserved a post-fast breaking snack; the menfolk didn't agree. "Vegetables in a cheesecake, nuts too? That doesn't sound much like a cake I wanna eat!" cried the grill-utensil-welding menfolk. They ate it. They loved it. Came back for seconds. It was solid 24 carrot golden cheesecake.
Official Stuff: My additions are in *** brackets
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs *** substitute ginger snaps***
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
3 large eggs
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 ***did not use***
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. each of nutmeg, cloves, allspice
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
6-7 grated carrots
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). 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.***I lined my pan with a circle of parchment paper that is big enough to line up the sides as well. This creates a more rustic look but it works for this type of cake*** Set crust aside.***FREEZE***
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. ***Add spices and then hand fold in carrots and pecans.***
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.
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!