I was ambitious today. Rather than doing my taxes (missing paperwork) I decided to answer the call of the organizer of my church's post-Great-Vigil celebratory dinner.
Originally I planned to make the Death By Chocolate Cake that my wife and I had reverse-engineered from watching a Great Chefs of the West show back in 1987, but despite it being circulated heavily, I couldn't find it online, and I didn't want to dig through the boxes yet unpacked of cookbooks. I did find that, somehow, our springform pans had reproduced and there were three of them. There were two last I had looked. I know a good recipe for key lime cheesecake, but again, it was in the same hidden cookbook with the other recipe.
Anyway, Albertsons had 8-oz packs of Philly Cream Cheese on sale, 10 for 10$, so I bought a bunch of philly cream cheese.
And this morning, starting around 10am, I made cheesecakes. Three of them.
The first one was a careful attempt to follow a recipe for "Grand Ole Opry Upside-Down Brownie Jack Daniels Cheesecake" or somesuch thing.
Recipe was simple enough:
1 c semisweet chocolate morsels
1/3 c heavy cream
24 oz softened creamcheese
1 c sugar
2T Jack Daniels
1/4 tsp Grand Marnier
unnecessary salt that I left out
They said to melt the chocolate and add the cream in a double boiler. Fie on that, I melted them together in the microwave and blended them with a tiny whisk (need to get more of those).
They said to use an electric mixer to blend the creamcheese and sugar and alcohol-flavor-carrier (Grand Marnier), then add the eggs. Fie also on that, as I haven't got an electric mixer, so instead I used a hand whisk like our ancient french forecooks had to. It wasn't that hard. I used more booze than they said, and since I don't have Jack Daniels, I used Maker's Mark. I didn't use MUCH more than they called for.
It does help to use a heavy fork to moosh (technical term) the cream cheese and sugar together, then to use it to mix in the liquid, and add one egg at a time, so as to avoid thick ugly lumps (which are nonetheless pretty tasty.) Also, I used the whisk to finish the blending.
The recipe goes on to say to mix in the whiskey and the melted chocolate, then put it in a springform pan.
I was adventurous and melted some chocolate chips first, put them onto the bottom of the springform after spraying it to prevent sticking. My theory was that it might make a chocolate shell to keep the cheesecake from adhering to the springform, or just to taste good. I'm not sure if it did, though, I think it might've been too thin.
They say to cook the cheesecake for 15 minutes at 400, then reduce the temp to 350 and cook 15 more, and to use the cooking time to prepare the brownie that makes this an upside-down cake:
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 C butter
1 C sugar
1 t grand marnier or vanilla
1/2 C flour
1/4 c chopped pecans (optional)
Yet more unnecessary salt that I left out
Again with the double boiler, this time melt the chocolate with the butter. I had no unsweetened chocolate but I did have semi-sweet chips, so I used the Rule of Fudge And Crossed Fingers, and 1/2 cup sugar. It took me about 15 minutes to finish this, and the alarm went off so I pulled out the cheesecake, looked, and started putting the batter on, wondering why the surface was so wet.
When I went to put it in, I realized that the oven was still set to 400, so I hastily recovered the batter (mostly) and put it back in for 20 minutes at 350 (5 extra minutes to make up for cooling time), then put the batter back on, much easier this time.
Then, at 350, it cooked another 35-40 minutes, and except for looking like a fallen souffle, it seemed perfect, and passed the toothpick test.
Second cheesecake: Attempt at no-sugar-added.
Followed about the same recipe, but with Splenda (equal-measure formulation) and using cocoa powder instead, and no brownie.
Instead of the whiskey and orange liqueur, I used Kahlua, the only sugar in the recipe.
I faked a cookie crust by mixing a small amount of melted butter and a few tablespoons of water to bind up some cocoa powder, wheat bran, splenda, and golden flax-seed meal, patted it down flat onto the springform, and baked it for 20 minutes at 350 to get it acting as though it was crisp.
The cocoa powder/Splenda/Cream mixture was fairly easy to manage for the chocolate mix, and I did 10 minutes at 400 then the remaining 40 at 350, which made an odd looking crust. When it cooled, I melted some splenda and water in a pan and added a half cup of Torani sugar-free syrup, started it reducing, and thickened it with some non-starch thickener left over from Atkins days (basically acacia and guar gums).
It didn't set quite perfectly, but it did well enough to make a nice colored raspberry-flavored translucent gel surface on the top.
Third cheesecake, 11 inch pan, key lime with ginger crust.
Should have used ginger snaps to make the crust, but didn't have any. Did have a bunch of this odd 'Ginger Drink' from Japan, that's basically powdered ginger root and cane sugar, so that plus some added sugar plus some water plus some wheat bran and golden flax seed meal and of course melted butter ... 20 minutes at 350 made it semi-crust-like. While it cooled, I put together yet another batch of cheesecake batter. This time, no chocolate, 8 more ounces of cream cheese for the larger pan, a half cup more sugar, a half cup of key lime juice, a tablespoon of grand marnier. I found some pickled ginger, and if I had been thinking, I would have diced it very fine to put inside. Instead, I shredded it for a decoration for the top.
The key lime was pretty tasty. The regular chocolate brownie and the key lime were very popular, but I still have about a quarter of each. The sugar free, however, was raved over and only two pieces left. This strikes me as odd, because I think the flavor was a bit unfocused.
Here's the picture, if I can make it take.