Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Cheesecake

You may be wondering where I've been. In fact, I'm wondering where I've been! Sadly, I've been around but not posting. It seems I've lost my bloggy mojo. And damn, if time doesn't fly! Before I knew it, a month had gone by, then nearly two! Don't fear though, I will find my mojo once more! Expect me to be back and posting regularly again soon!

But now, it's time again for another Daring Bakers challenge! The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
For a light(ish – it is cheesecake after all) springtime treat, I chose to make a Limoncello cheesecake.

My love of Limoncello started way back when Food Network was relatively new to me. I saw an episode of Mario Eats Italy all about the fruity liqueur. I was fascinated, mostly due to my love of anything lemon, and had to get my hands on a bottle.

For some reason, I didn't run out and buy some. No, I waited until Christmas and was happy to unwrap a bottle – a gift from my mother. I stashed it in the freezer and, when icy cold, finally had my first taste. Wow! What a refreshing spirit!

Strangely, even with my enthusiasm for it, this bottle lasted me forever. I'm not much of a drinker, you see. At Christmas this past year, my mother remembered that I had once wanted a bottle and bought me another, not knowing I had yet to finish the first. So now I figure, it's time to start using it up!

For the original recipe, please visit Jenny's site – the version below is a variation of Abbey's recipe.

Limoncello cheesecake
For the crust:
2 cups Nilla wafer crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:
3 sticks of cream cheese, at room temperature

zest of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons Limoncello

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

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. If using a two-piece springform pan, cover bottom of the pan securely with foil. Set crust aside.

Mix sugar and zest together until fragrant. Combine cream cheese and zest/sugar mixture in the bowl of a stand-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.

Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place a pan, larger than your cake pan, on the center rack of your oven. Place the cake pan into the larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge – 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 overnight.

Overall, this was a great challenge. I think the recipe could use a bit more lemon flavor – it was a bit too subtle. Perhaps some more limoncello or some lemon extract would intensify the flavor. Also, the crust was a bit soggy so I plan to blind bake the crust the next time I make this.

Now hop on over to the blogroll and check out the creative flavors the other Daring Bakers came up with this month!