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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Daring Cheesecake

The Daring Bakers have rolled up their collective sleeves and worked on the lastest challenge... cheesecake! The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

There isn't a lot of cheese cake in this house. Although we find it on every restaurant menu, we don't tend to order it. Usually we find the texture a bit pasty and the cheesecake sticks to the roof of the mouth. But, but, this cheesecake.... well, holy moly the texture was divine!

Jenny would be so proud of her friend for bringing another person over to the cheese cake side of life. The recipe was modified to be gluten free and booze free - booze on the side please, it packs a bigger punch! The original recipe can be found at Jenny Bakes or at the Daring Kitchen where there is a gorgeous slide show of some of the creations of our members.

Rather than contend with a potentially soggy crust, I bought disposable aluminium tins for smaller cheesecakes. The recipe made a total of 8 cheesecakes and each serves at least 3 people. The added bonus was that the baking time was cut in half because of the smaller cheesecakes.

Just Poured Cheesecake

Cheesecake based on Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake

200 gram (1 & 2/3 cups) sweetened flaked coconut
60 mL (1/4 cup) flax seed meal
60 mL (1/4 cup) coconut flour (can be omitted but I had leftovers.... so in it went)
30 mL (2 tbsp) sugar
125 mL (1/2 cup) butter
5 mL (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese room temperature
1 cup / 383 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp liqueur, optional

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

2. Mix together 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. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese & sugar in bowl of stand-mixer, cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

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.

Ready for the Oven

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.

Note When cooked in one large pan, the cheesecake 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! The smaller pans required only 1/2 hour cooking and 1/2 hour cooling in the oven.


Styling my cheesecake turned out to be a gloopy mashed potato mess of a disaster. Even though the worst disasters make the best stories, my strategy was a cover up. The sprinkling of coconut and caramel sauce was my attempt at camouflage.

Quellia, the next time I complain about my heap of cake, I will take pictures!

Oops, my cheesecake had an accident... the shame... the shame...

Lessons Learned

1) Smaller cheesecakes save time and make more sense for portion size.

2) Take pictures of decorating disasters instead of just eating them. That way your friends can laugh with you.

3) Never judge a cheesecake by previous cheesecakes.

4) My new motto for my lack of decorating skills is "I don't play with your food before you do."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt

Today is a gorgeous sunny Easter morning.

This week we've been watching a wild rabbit hop it's way all over our yard. We're not sure what attracts the rabbits but every year around this time one or two "Easter" bunnies cavort on our lawn.

In previous years our children would be fascinated by the wild bunnies. Not one to waste an opportunity, I christened them the Easter bunnies. Last year was the final year for the magic of the Easter bunny and everyone has graduated to a more sophisticated level of understanding of their parents' deception.

Our youngest was thrilled to be the master of the Easter egg hunt since he was in charge of hiding all the chocolate eggs. As the official Easter bunny, he is patiently waiting for his teenage siblings to wake up and hunt for the eggs.

This may take a while.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Check the Chick Peas

Every month at the new Daring Kitchen, we introduce new challenges. Often, recipe instructions are lengthy and detailed; they may seem clear to some participants but not everyone agrees. Confusion over weights, measures, phrases, ingredients and technique abound.

However, the forum provides ample opportunity to question and discuss the recipes. There are never any stupid questions and the quality of the communication always delights me. It's truly a global village since we come from different backgrounds and cultures. We are learning a whole new language and way of communicating.

Even among friends we have the same type of discussions.

We love chick peas in our house. The first time hummus was introduced to this family, it was a love affair. We had never heard of chick peas, never seen them, and had no idea what they could possibly be.

So I begged my friend for her hummus recipe. She gave me the following instructions... it's really quite simple, chick peas, garlic, tahini sauce...

... wait, Tahini?

Tahini was unfamiliar so she carefully explained ground sesame paste. The instructions were simple enough and I trotted off to find the ingredients.

Chick peas... check
Tahini....... check
Garlic....... check
Other stuff.. check

But it just didn't seem right so I called my good friend and asked "Do you cook your chick peas?"

Friend: "Cook? Why? You can heat them up if you want but I don't cook them.... "

Something is not right about this answer.

Me: "Listen, I trust you would not steer me wrong. You've made this before but I need to know... will it wreck my blender?"

Friend: "What are you putting into your hummus!?!?!"

Me: "Everything you said, chickpeas, garlic, tahini.... but the chick peas seem a little hard and I have to admit my blender is a bit of a wimp."

Friend: "Hard? That's odd, mine have been firm but never hard. You could microwave them for a minute but even a wimpy blender should be able to handle hummus. Add some water from the can."

Me: "Can? What can?"

Friend: "What? The can of chickpeas!"

Me: "They didn't come in a can but in a 2 kg bag."

Peals of laughter from the other end of the phone. After my friend wiped the tears from her eyes and had her snickering under control, I was informed that canned chickpeas were the easiest way to make hummus. However, since I was the proud owner of the biggest bag of chickpeas in the store, I would have the biggest batch of hummus she had ever seen.

I wish this were the end of the story but it isn't. Dry roasted chick peas are a great quick protein rich snack. Unfortunately, dry roasted and just dry chick peas look very similar.