Have you seen a load of cheesecake posts around the foodie blogosphere today? Yes, it's the Daring Bakers time of the month again:
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.The challenge was not only to make the cheesecake, but to make it special - play with flavors, toppings and decorations. My mind immediately went to work, and pretty soon I realized that it would be impossible to choose just one flavor. Hadn't I stopped myself I easily could have thought of more than ten different cheesecakes to make, but now we settled on "just" five.
We decided to make the cheesecakes in small porcelain tartelette pans that Markus got for his birthday. As they aren't springform pans, the problem on how to get the cakes out of the pans presented itself. My mind went to work again, and came up with this, quite genius if I may say so myself, solution.
We (ok, Markus did it) cut circles out of parchment paper to fit in the pans. Below those went two strips of paper, to act as "lifting devices" to get the cake out. It worked really well! To hold the papers in place, we buttered the bottom of the pan.
Ok, on to the cheesecakes. The original recipe can be found over at Jenny Bakes; we'll just tell you about the different flavorings we designed.
As our pans were tiny and very low, we halved the recipe. In order to get five different flavors, we then had to fifth that half. It made for some interesting mathematical acrobatics (and possibly also a decent rap expression - fifth that half, man!), especially since the recipe used non-metric measures. We only screwed up once, putting too much cream in one of the cheesecakes. The verdict is, the cake did not suffer from our mistake.
Rosemary & Raspberry
We infused the cream with rosemary by bringing it to a boil with a few rosemary sprigs thrown in, and then letting it cool before straining it and adding it to the batter. We also added a few raspberries to it. For topping we made a raspberry mirror out of raspberries, water, sugar and gelatin. Rosemary and raspberry went really well together and we'll definitely be making this one again!
"Vargtass" (wolf's paw) is a traditional Finnish drink made of vodka and lingonberries. We added whole lingonberries to the batter and made a mirror for topping: lingonberries, water, sugar, gelatin and then of course, Koskenkorva vodka. The harsh flavors of the lingonberries and vodka really played well with the sweetness of the cake. Not recommended if you have a severe sweet tooth, or for children. Being Scandinavian, we of course liked it!
Grand Marnier & Chocolate
More liquor! We added cacao to the crust, and Grand Marnier (an orange liqueur) to the batter. For decoration, we simply swirled some melted dark chocolate on top. This tasted like a luxurious chocolate praline, which was exactly what we wanted.
Coconut & Fiery Rum Pineapple
Continuing the tour of liquor cabinet! This cake features a rum flambéed pineapple topping. For the batter, we substituted the cream with coconut cream, and also added some flaked coconut to the crust, which somewhat compromised the structural integrity (the crust came apart when we smeared the filling on it). Overall: Piña Colada in cake form!
Saffron & Wine-poached Fig
We end the cake tour like the year ends: with Christmas. We used Swedish gingerbread thins (traditionally eaten for Christmas) instead of graham crackers in the crust, and added saffron (another typical Swedish Christmas flavor) to the batter. For topping, we poached a halved fig in red wine with sugar, star anise, a cinnamon stick and one black peppercorn. 'Tis the season to be jolly!
Thank you Jenny for a great challenge!
But wait! There's more!
After putting together the five small cheesecakelettes, there was still small amounts of batter from all five left. What to do? We mixed them all up in one big witch brew and made two "unwholy" cakes. Let's just say: sometimes the sum doesn't equal more than the parts...