Monday, April 27, 2009

Assam Mandarine Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce for the DBs

The 2nd Daring Bakers' Cheesecake

Apparently, April is cheesecake month for the DBs since last year we made cheesecake lollipops. The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
As soon as this went up, I decided I was going to make a saffron and honey cheesecake because I wanted to make something that reminded me of Persian food and growing up in an Iranian household, but by the time I was up against the deadline we were out of saffron (something which rarely but evidently does happen and, with a little one around, getting to the store isn't what it used to be) so I turned to other flavors from my childhood.
Iranians consume several things without moderation, one of them being tea and another citrus fruit. The caramel sauce, while seeming odd, actually came out of the fact that at the end of Iranian meals, one will often be presented with tea and little pieces of caramel to finish the meal. In this instance, the caramel is simply sugar cooked to hard-stage caramel. One is meant to put the piece of caramel in his/her mouth (usually holding it between the teeth) and drink the tea which melts the caramel as it washes over it. Since hard caramel is a little hard to incorporate in a cake of any kind, I chose to go with a caramel sauce instead.
Major Variation: There was only one 200g (7 oz.) container of cream cheese left at the market so I used one container of light cream cheese and a container of mascarpone cheese to balance the fat content and ensure that the cheesecake wouldn't be too thin. It turned out just fine.
The flavor was very subtle so I might try using more tea bags next time and/or letting them steep longer in the cream. The slight mandarine flavor was lovely.

Unfortunately, now that the picture of the whole cheesecake is posted (you should see the time acrobatics involved just to get these pictures up), I'm not sure I have time to do a picture of a slice with the caramel sauce, but I will try. The caramel sauce is in a rather unphotogenic container at the moment so I won't bother taking a picture of that just to have a picture of it.

I'll definitely make the saffron-honey cheesecake, just not right now. Recipe with my variations below. Big thanks to Jenny for choosing something I could somehow manage with my mini-me.

Mes excuses aux lecteurs Français qui ne lisent pas l'Anglais couramment mais j'ai tout juste le temps de publier des billets en une seule langue. Si vous avez des questions sur la recette, n'hésitez pas à m'envoyer un message.

The 2nd Daring Bakers' Cheesecake too

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake (original recipe - my variations in blue):

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz / 115g butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar (Omitted)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (Omitted)

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz or 680g) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar (I used about 190g instead)
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz / 250ml heavy cream
4 good quality Assam Tea bags to infuse the cream
3 tbsp. Mandarine juice
Zest of 1 Mandarine
1 tbsp. lemon juice (Omitted)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean) (Omitted)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake (Omitted)

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.

2. 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 - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

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, 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.

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.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

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!

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Audax said...

It sounds delightful and the pictures are fabulous. I just love the flavour combination tea and mandarine. O the memories of childhood. Cheers from Australia Audax

Anonymous said...

This looks great great. I love the hints of color on the top of the cake. YUM

Ramya Kiran said...

Wow, they look cute and perfect. Yum yum!! I bet they would taste awesome with caramel sauce.

Loie said...

Beautiful presentation. Your flavours sound lovely!

alana said...

Looks just perfect! So nice to see you again out here....

Anonymous said...

your flavours sounds really delicate and fragrant, and your photo is beautiful!

CECIL said...

Such a gorgeous cake! I am so intrigued with the notion of saffron cheesecake. Nevertheless, this one sounds delish as well. :D

Sophie said...

Waw.....What a piece of real food art!!
The cheese cake looks decadent!!

The Irreverent Cook said...

That looks sooo sophisticated! I sure hope looking at cheesecakes won't make me fat, coz all you guys make such awesome ones!

MeetaK said...

i can so imagine the flavor of these mandarines! actually i had to smile as Tom's friend and future colleague has also moved to Qatar in March and was extremely amazed at the sweetness of Assam mandarines. He had never eaten mandarines that tasted so good! looks divine Hilda! Hugs to cuitepie!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and such creative flavors! It's one of the most perfect cheesecakes I've seen - like right out of Art Culinaire :0

Jamie said...

This is a beautiful cheesecake and the flavor sounds wonderful! I would love to see a slice of this (the easier to taste it vicariously!) with a drizzle of the caramel sauce. Oh well, I guess I can only dream...

Jenny said...

I like both versions you were thinking. If you often post about Iranian food, I'll have to come back. I'm always reading about it and wanting to try it.

Thanks for being a part of the April Daring Bakers Challenge! I am sorry to be so late in replying, but I'm determined to get to every blog.

Jenny of JennyBakes

Sophie said...

Beautiful cheesecake, I had no idea it could be made with mandarin oranges.

Anonymous said...
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Wanna B Thin 2 said...

I've only tasted one cheesecake that I didn't like - pumpkin. Perhaps it was the recipe. Cheesecake is my all-time favorite treat!

Heather said...

Mandarin cheesecake sounds really yummy.

Stacy said...

Oh, how I love cheesecake!!!

Kat said...

Saffron and honey sounds wonderful

Jeanne said...

Mmm, cheesecake - my favourite...

Sari said...

This cheesecake looks yummy!

Anonymous said...

comment comment. thanks for the good work.

Ted said...

Leaving a comment for Haiti.

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