Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Let’s promptly forget about how long it has been since I've talked to you over here. It’s not that I haven’t cooked or baked since that last pink soufflé. I just… haven’t gotten around to telling you about the escapades. Life, in essence, got in the way. The trip back to KL during Diwali was short and I came back with a major flu bug. At least Vijay got away to Langkawi Island, celebrated his birthday with friends and saw penguins. He came back just in time to catch my bug and we spent the most of last week with our hankies and medications.
Despite that I still managed to bake this.
I can never forget the close-to-obscene face and sound Vijay made when I first saw him eat a piece of cheesecake from Ikea. Requested by the birthday boy, he wanted it with something coffee on top instead of beautiful berries, and so it became a New York cheesecake with chocolate coffee glaze.
Those five blocks of cream cheese? Oh yeah they’ll talk to you when you take the first bite. The cheesecake lover finished his first piece in less than five minutes. This is rich, fluffy yet creamy and in my opinion, is best served cold (especially in our hot and humid weather). The citrus zests are brilliant; the oils released from them impart much more aroma and flavor than the juices, unless of course, if you’re really bothered by how they will (only ever slightly) affect the smooth texture of the cake.
We are in doubt at this point if the cheesecake will last for the two weeks it can keep. More than a quarter has disappeared as I’m writing this – mostly downed by yours truly, who is not even a cheesecake person. Like most cheesecakes, it gets better as days pass so I would strongly suggest cutting into it only on day two. Your patience will be rewarded.
New York Cheesecake
Adapted from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen and the original recipe from Gourmet Magazine.
Modifications: I modified Deb’s crumb crust recipe to use up my ginger snaps from baking this instead of graham crackers. If you’d like to do the same I’d suggest adding 1 ounce of cookies and reducing the butter to 3 or 4 tablespoons as ginger snaps contains more butter, molasses and are heavier than grahams. I also added a little salt, doubled the vanilla extract and used the zest from a whole lemon and orange (following the original recipe) in the filling. The chocolate coffee glaze is modified from this recipe; I think it is too thick for this citrusy cheesecake, so half the recipe will do the trick to have just a nice thin layer of topping.
Baking time and temperatures: This recipe caused a lot of heartbreaks based on the reviews on both Deb’s site and the original recipe. I went with the highest temperature my oven would go (240°C), dropped it to 90°C after 10 minutes and continue baking for 1 hour 20 minutes. Only after that I read more of the reviews from the original recipe at Epicurious and found that this recipe is meant for a gas oven and for electric oven users the starting temperature should be 230°C. I also learned that since the low baking temperature is already on the low side I don’t need to adjust it according to the convection setting as I would normally do for other cakes. Although my cake was crack-free it ended up on the slightly underdone side (as you can see from the crater on the whole cake and the creaminess of the cut piece) - the center was still custardy after chilling it for more than 8 hours. Therefore I write this recipe adjusting the time and temperature for a normal electric oven and to achieve the set consistency of a proper cheesecake. At the end of the day, you should adjust your temperature and time according to your oven.
- 8 ounces finely ginger snaps or cookies such as graham crackers, chocolate or vanilla wafers
- 6 tablespoons (1 stick or 4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
- 5 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Chocolate coffee glaze
- 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
- 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 3 tablespoons corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso or coffee powder
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- pinch of salt
Make crumb crust: Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and up the sides, stopping ¼ inch shy of the top rim, of a buttered 9 1/2-inch (or 24 cm) springform pan. You can fill it right away but I like to pop my into the freezer so it quickly sets while I prepare the filling.
Make cheesecake filling: Preheat oven to 230°C. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, flour and zest with an electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla, then eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated. Scrape bowl down between additions.
Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan (to catch drips). Pour filling into crust (springform pan will be completely full) and baking in baking pan in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes or until puffed. Please watch your cake because some ovens will top-brown very quickly and if yours does too fast, turn the oven down as soon as you catch it. Reduce the temperature to 100°C degrees and continue baking until cake is mostly firm (center will still be slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken); about one hour and 35 minutes more (see Baking Notes above).
Run a knife around the top edge of the cake to loosen it and cool the cake completely in springform on a rack. Chill it, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.
Make chocolate glaze topping: Stir the instant espresso or coffee with the hot water till coffee dissolves completely. Add this to all the glaze ingredients in a heatproof bowl and set it on top of a pot of simmering water (you can also use a double boiler). Stir well till glaze is smooth and shiny.
Run a thin knife around the sides of the cheesecake and remove the springform side. Pour glaze on top of cake and tilt the cake around to cover the entire top. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Do ahead: Cheesecake keeps, covered and chilled, 2 weeks.
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