Monday, January 31, 2011

Dress up your cheesecake

With Valentine's Day coming up, you're probably thinking about romantic food.   What?  That's just me?

Oh.  Well, anyway, I'm here to confess that I'm not particularly fond of cake.   It's not bad and I'll eat it sometimes when it's offered.   I would always prefer cookies, pie, or cheesecake instead.   There is nothing that can compare to a well made New York style cheesecake.   So creamy.  So rich.   So perfectly balanced in flavor and texture.  I have a favorite recipe that costs an arm and a leg to make but it's so worth it.   It's the cheesecake in my favorite cookbook, of course.  (Last page of the "cake" section.)  It's great, but sometimes it's nice to dress it up a little bit.

Method one:    Make your favorite cheese cake recipe and just before you put it in the oven drop fruit jam by the tablespoon randomly on the batter.  Swirl it in with a knife.  For Valentines day you can use a red jam like raspberry and drop the jam in a circle around the pan.  Run the knife in a circle around the pan passing through the center of each jam drop.   You should get a pretty circle of hearts running around your cheesecake.   Or you can just swirl the knife lots and really get that jam swirled into the cheesecake.   My favorite jam to use is huckleberry.   It really makes the cheesecake special.

Method two:   ATK recommends using ganache to make a chocolate swirl.  That works beautifully.   What is even better is adding chocolate ganache and caramel swirls.  Choose a thick caramel sauce that can stand up to the long baking.  You can also add a thin layer of caramel on top of the crust before you add the cheesecake batter.  Sprinkle some pecans on top after baking and use finely chopped ones in your crust and you've got a Turtle Cheesecake.   Sprinkle roasted peanuts on top with a chopped up candy bar and you've got a Candy Bar Cheesecake.

Method Three:   Stir in 3/4c of miniature chocolate chips, a few drops of green food coloring, and a little bit of mint extract.  Use a chocolate cookie crust.   Grasshopper Cheesecake.

Method four:  Stir in a little lemon extract and lemon zest in the batter and bake as usual.   Spread with 1 1/2 cups lemon curd.  Either make it from scratch or warm it up before spreading it on the cheesecake.  Chill until the lemon curd sets.   You get an amazing Lemon Cheesecake.    You could do the same thing with orange extract, zest, and curd as well.

Method five:  stir 1.5 oz melted, unsweetened chocolate and 3/4 c cocoa powder  into the cheesecake batter.   Use a chocolate cookie crust and sprinkle chopped high quality semi-sweet chocolate over the crust, then pour in the batter.    Swirl in a white chocolate ganache.   Decorate with chocolate curls just before serving.   A chocolate cheesecake that will make you a legend.

Sure a New York cheesecake with a strawberry sauce topping is a classic, but isn't it nice to have a little fun with your food?

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