Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge: Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

As much as I love to bake, I have never, ever made cheesecake, which is why I was so excited about this month's Daring Bakers Challenge. Jenny provided us with an excellent recipe as a base and told us to "get creative". Since it was my first time making it, I chose to play it safe and make mini cheesecakes using a muffin tin of two basic flavors. You can pretty much bet, however, that I will be returning to this recipe again and again now that I've tried it. I can't wait until peaches are in season around here... peaches and cream cheesecake, here I come!

As with most DB recipes, this one was excellent. I made a dark chocolate cheesecake which turned out rich, dense, and decadent....pretty much sinful. I also made a strawberry swirl cheesecake, which was light, creamy, and refreshing. It was actually my favorite. I think the farm fresh strawberries I bought that morning at our local farmer's market made a big difference.
If you've never made cheesecake before, this recipe is very easy and yields excellent results. I highly recommend using a water bath as it makes for a wonderful light and creamy texture. And, even if you have made cheesecake before, you should give this a try. You won't be sorry.

Mini Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Swirl Cheesecakes
adapted from Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Lorna Doone cookies, crushed (for strawberry cheesecakes)
  • 1 cup Oreo Fudgee chocolate cookies, crushed (for chocolate cheesecakes)
  • 1 stick butter, melted

Cheesecake Ingredients:

  • 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
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
  • 1 tbsp strong brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped and pureed with 1 tbsp. lemon juice and 1 tbsp sugar to taste

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. Line 2 12 cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Prepare both crusts by mixing the Lorna Doone cookies with 1/2 of the melted butter in one bowl, and then mix the Oreo cookie crumbs with the other half of the melted butter. Place a heaping tablespoon of crumb mixture in each muffin tin, and press down gently.

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, 1 tbsp vanilla, and lemon juice, and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Divide the batter evenly between 2 bowls. Add remaining 1 tbsp of vanilla to one bowl of batter. To the other, add melted cooled chocolate and coffee. Spoon batter into the muffin tins - vanilla batter on top of the Lorna Doone cookie crusts, and chocolate batter on top of the chocolate cookie crusts. Place a tablespoon of strawberry puree on each of the vanilla cheesecakes, and use a toothpick to swirl the puree into the batter.Tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place muffin pan onto a jelly roll pan and pour boiling water into the jelly roll pan until halfway up the sides of the muffin pan.

5. Bake 15 to 20 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 30 minutes. This lets the cakes finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one half hour, remove cheesecakes 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.

6. Top the strawberry cheesecakes with any additional strawberry puree and top the chocolate cheesecakes with Nutella. Serve and enjoy!

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!


  1. These two cheesecakes sound delicious. I bet they're even better together - dark chocolate and strawberry, yum!

  2. OMG, you used Lorna Doone cookies? They are my favorite!
    Love your cheesecakes.

  3. Both of your cheesecakes look delicious. Very nice!

  4. Yum! This looks so good! I love cheesecake anything.

  5. The two flavors look so good together!

  6. OMG peaches and cream cheesecake does indeed sound like a delicious treat. It is almost peach season down here in the south; I can't wait! I love your little cheesecakelets.