Monday, 27 April 2009

My first Daring Bakers challenge!

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

So I have two firsts in this post, my first cheesecake and my first daring bakers challenge! It turned out pretty well I think! Here's the recipe with my alterations in bold, I thirded it as it would have gone to waste otherwise.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs 2/3 cup hobnob light crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted 40g pure soya spread
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar 1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract 1/2 tsp vanilla

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature 225g cream sheeze
1 cup / 210 g sugar 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs 1/4 cup blended silken tofu
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream 1/3 cup soyatoo
1 tbsp. lemon juice (omitted to add other flavours, see later)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean) 2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake (omitted to add other flavours, see later)

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!

Some variations from the recipe creator:

** Lavender-scented cheesecake w/ blueberries - heat the cup of heavy cream in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add 2 tbsp of lavender flowers and stir. Let lavender steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes, then strain the flowers out. Add strained cream to cheesecake batter as normal. Top with fresh blueberries, or make a quick stovetop blueberry sauce (splash of orange juice, blueberries, a little bit of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon - cook until berries burst, then cool)

** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel - take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website - just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).

** Tropical – add about a half cup of chopped macadamias to the crust, then top the cake with a mango-raspberry-mandarin orange puree.

** Mexican Turtle - add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce.

** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey, add about a teaspoon or more (to taste) of cinnamon. Take 2 pears (any variety you like or whatever is in season), peeled and cored, and poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of "coins" of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid and simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears and fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Some variations from Jenny (from JennyBakes):

**Key lime - add zest from one lime to sugar before mixing with cream cheese. Substitute lemon juice, alcohol, and vanilla with key lime juice.

**Cheesecakelets - put in muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups. Try baking 20-35 minutes, or until still a little jiggly, and cool as before.

Bashing up my hobnob biscuits for the crust

Mixing in the soya spread... just realised I forgot to melt it, I wondered why it was so hard to mix in!!!

Putting the crust into my muffin pan, I chose to do the cheesecakelet version as I couldn't decide on a single flavour! Gotta love the old school oven facilities in my flat!!

Here I am mixing the cream sheese and sugar

My vegan adaptions (silken tofu not shown)

Ready for the oven, clockwise from top left, Tirimasu, Black forest gateau, Chocolate, Caramel, Chocolate and caramel, Cherry.

And out of the oven cooling...

Cherry version
For the cherry version I used a plain unadultered cheesecake and topped with a sour cherry sauce made by defrosting some sour cherries, stirring in arrowroot and sugar to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer, chill before using.

This is a combination of my two favourite cheesecakes as a child. The cheesecake mixture has melted chocolate and caramel sauce added to it and it is topped with a simple ganache, caramel sauce and chopped fudge. The caramel sauce didn't really work as planned and separated in the fridge, I still used the top thick layer and discarded the bottom. Since it didn't work I won't bother with the recipe but if anyone really wants it let me know!

Choco-caramel birdseye view

This variation worked best I think, a really sophisticated way to get your chocolate! This has Tia maria liquor in the cheesecake mix and is topped with the simple ganache with a small glug of tia maria, on top of that is soyatoo and a sprinkle of cocoa powder.

This cheesecake had caramel sauce in the mix and is topped with yet more caramel and chopped fudge

Melted chocolate in the cheesecake mix and topped with ganache. Simple but yumm!

Black Forest Gateau
This was my least favourite, and least photogenic.. a case of piling on far too many toppings I think! The cheese cake mix was marbled with melted chocolate and topped with a sour cherry sauce, soyatoo and drizzled ganache.

This was a yummy challenge and I will definately make this recipe again!


  1. check you out and your fancy schmancy cheesecakes! fabulous first DB challenge!

  2. I love all your mini cheesecakes. They looks just fabulous! Congrats on all of your firsts!

  3. Great looking cheesecakes! Awesome job on your first DB challenge, welcome to the group!

  4. You have set the bar high for your first challenge! Great job!

  5. Those are so cute- and I love that you have a variety!

  6. wow - they all look great. especially the chocolate fudgy one. yum.

  7. Look at all your little cheesecakes! They look amazing. You smashed your first challenge!

  8. You handled your first challenge like a pro! Your cakes turned out perfectly.

  9. YES!!! A new vegan Daring Baker! CONGRATS on your first challenge, you rocked it :) LOVE all your flavours, oh my goodness...sour cherry, black forest, tiramisu, mmmmMMM. And, I have to say - I'm in love with your stove.

  10. Welcome to the alternative DBers! You did an amazing job of presenting the challenge-I love all the variations. I am so inspired to try some new flavour combinations.

  11. Gorgeous little cheezecakes you've made. The perfect size for cramming into my mouth whole! -bonbon

  12. Congrats on your first challenge, you knocked it out the park! Great flavour profiles :-)

  13. Your cheesecakes look great! Congrats on your first challenge!

  14. You really rocked your first Daring Bakers Challenge! I'm so jealous of your Sheese!!! I wish I could get it here in France!

  15. Just saw these on the ppk, they look awesome!

  16. Laura,

    I love, love all of the variations. Genius idea!

    Have a beautiful day sweetie!

    With Love,


  17. I came here looking for the photos of the *HMM HMM* but couldn't find them. BUT, your mini cheesecakes look cheesecakes look awesome!

  18. These are so nice!!
    I just love minicheesecakes, I now know it's the way they should be made!

  19. Wow...are you talented or what?!? I would dig into that tiramisu cheesecake in a heartbeat. Actually, they all look amazing!

  20. Those look great! I want to try some vegan cooking at the place I work at but will cowboys eat it? Hmm we shall see!

  21. There is only 1 word to describe what I've just seen: WOW!!!

  22. Wow, those are truly incredible!! :)

  23. Look at all of those adaptations of cheesecake! I had my first Vegan cheesecake a few weeks back and my life will never be the same. AMAZING.

  24. Thanks for the add! Those look delicious and beautiful! I am so trying those out as soon as I have a clean kitchen haha, oh college life.

    Have a fab day :)

  25. Your cheesecake cupcakes look amazing!! Quite an ambitious array of flavor combos! Thanks for following my blog!

  26. AWESOME!!! I love all the mini cheesecakes! I'm sure they taste as good as they look! :)

  27. Tirimasu, Black forest gateau, Chocolate, Caramel, Chocolate and caramel, Cherry so many types and this is a good way to see what you like. Beautiful series of photos and I like how go went to town on this challenge. Bravo on such a wonderous response to this recipe. I thought this recipe was so good this is my cheesecake recipe now!!!!!

  28. oh my these are the most amazing homemade mini cheesecakes that have ever seen in my life! i'm sure you are a really great cooker :)

  29. Holy COW! Oh my gosh girl, I was drooling through this entire post. I love all of the varieties, you are so creative, and they all look delicious...I'd take em' all! Haha! Your apron is REALLY adorable, too. Those are a must in the kitch, when baking :)


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  31. Wow, those cheesecakes look amazing! I am totally drooling now.

  32. They look absolutely georgeous. I have to try them some time. I love sweet things. I am baking brownies at the moment. :)

    Thank you for following my blog.

  33. Hey Laura, thanks for becoming a follower on my blog. I can't believe how cute your cheesecakes are!!!! I think these are my absolute favourites from last month's challenge. Can't wait to see what you come up with this time.

  34. I'm sorry I'm so late in commenting, but you did spectacularly for a first cheesecake AND first challenge, and veganizing the recipe at that. The chocolate caramel one looks so decadent! (And I love hobnobs, yum).

    Jenny of JennyBakes