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Posts Tagged ‘cheesecake’

Well, I did it again. I had to bake the preheat and main heat in the same day. Brutal! But I spent a few days up north this week and time got away from me. I said it last week, but never again. So many dishes.

This weeks preheat was to bake a dessert of my choice using the chocolate I randomly drew. Out of blond, white, milk, and dark, I got milk chocolate. The dessert also had to contain a hidden surprise or unexpected flavor. 90 minutes were allotted.

After some thought, I decided to try ice cream sandwiches in 90 minutes. Milk chocolate cookies with a milk chocolate and Guinness ice cream. The ice cream recipe is courtesy of David Leibovitz.

I knew time could be an issue. I don’t have a commercial ice cream maker. What I used is a soft serve maker as the bowl is smaller than my other one and can freeze quicker. Still, I would need to make the ice cream as fast as possible and get it churning so hopefully it’d have some time to set in the freezer.

David’s recipe is simple, but effective. Most times when I make a custard base, I refrigerate it overnight before churning. But the ice bath did cool it down pretty well so I got it in the maker after about 20 minutes.

While it was churning, I made the chocolate sandwich cookie off King Arthur Flour, substituting some of the cocoa powder for melted milk chocolate. It baked beautifully and I could tell it would hold the ice cream together and not freeze to become rock hard. I cut out a couple different sizes of rounds to see what worked best. And I got some muffin tins ready and lined with plastic wrap to fill with the ice cream and freeze as long as it could.

The ice cream was taking too long. I know I should have used my other maker which freezes it in usually 23 minutes, but I didn’t have time to freeze that bowl. I had to start getting some of the ice cream in tins and in the freezer while the rest kept churning. But it got to a point where I knew I would have no more time and just had to get all of it in the muffin tins.

After a trial with the first tin of ice cream I put in the freezer, I realized it was not set up enough. It was going to come down to the wire. I put some sprinkles in a bowl and made sure everything was ready so I could assemble in the last couple minutes.

Go time! The ice cream was a little more set but still soft. I put the discs between two sandwich cookies and rolled them in the sprinkles. When time ran out, the four I plated for pictures had the consistency of soft serve. They met the challenge but I was really wishing I had a blast chiller. I left the rest of the ice cream in the freezer and assembled later when they were a little more set.

The overall outcome was good. I like the ice cream. The cookies aren’t as chocolaty as I would have liked but paired fine with the chocolate ice cream.

Counters scrubbed and dishes washed, it was time for round two, otherwise known as the main heat. This I had been dreading all week. Two hours to make a 3-in-1 cheesecake with 3 different decorations to show the flavors, 2 of which had to be baked from scratch. The dessert could not contain chocolate, as declared by the winner of the preheat.

How the hell was I going to make this happen in 2 hours?

Thinking it through, I knew the cheesecake would have to get baking ASAP. The three flavors I decided to do was pumpkin, strawberry, and maple bourbon pecan. But while getting ingredients out, I realized I was out of pumpkin. The last minute substitution would be apple cider raisin.

Once the clock started, I got to work on the apples. One thing I learned a few weeks ago in the apple raisin pie challenge was that I wanted to cook the apples first to soften them. I peeled and chopped 2 apples and got them cooking in a saucepan with apple cider, brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. The cheesecake base was blending slowly in the mixer while I composed the maple bourbon pecan portion. I made it similar to a pecan pie filling that I would just fold into the cheesecake. I purposefully left out a little sugar in the cheesecake base since this filling and the apple filling had additional sugar. When I portioned out the cheesecake in threes, I added a little more sugar to the one I was mixing frozen strawberries in.

My apple filling had cooked down a good bit and most of the liquid reduced. So I folded that into one of the cheesecake portions. I did the same for the maple bourbon and pecan. The strawberry portion was easiest because I just cut up the strawberries and mixed them in.

I put a square piece of parchment on the bottom of a 9″ square brownie pan. Then I mixed graham cracker crumbs and butter together, pressing it in the pan. Holding some graham crackers in place as dividers, I slowly poured each cheesecake mixture in the sections. Only a little bit of batter seeped into the other sections so I was pleased by that. I put the pan in a large roasting pan to get a water bath going, and in to the oven it went. Only an hour and 15 minutes were left.

For the decorations, I figured I could whip up a small batch of macarons in the shape of strawberries and fill with strawberry jam. Making a small recipe gave me some trouble and I think I had too much egg white. Alas, I went with it and got those baking.

I did not want to peel and chop more apples so that decoration would just be modeling chocolate apples.

Next up was maple bourbon pecan butter cookies. Again, portions were tough. I made enough dough for 5 cookies. It’s hard doing these challenges as home because I don’t want to go through a ton of ingredients. And I certainly don’t want to eat 2 dozen cookies and a whole cheesecake myself. I’ve given some of these bakes away to family and neighbors, but some have just gone in the trash. And my boyfriend can’t eat cheese so any dessert with cream cheese is a no for him.

Back to the challenge, despite my feeling that the cheesecake was too wobbly, the temperature probe was above 150F so I took it out and got it in an ice bath. I felt like this would cool it down better than the freezer. I only had 30 minutes left in the challenge.

As time was ticking by, it became obvious that it was under baked and not going to set enough to remove from the pan. I tried nonetheless. but quickly had to turn it back into the pan. There was nothing I could do. I would not finish in time. Rather than throw the cookies and modeling chocolate apples on top before time ran out, I bagged the decorations and put the underbaked cheesecake in the fridge. I would decorate it the next day after it set so it wasn’t completely destroyed. Strangely enough, the wetter, outside cheesecakes were seemingly set. It was the strawberry cheesecake that was the problem.

So the main heat was a total failure. Even my macarons weren’t right. But again, that’s just because I tried to make a tiny portion. I also realized after the challenge that the cheesecakes the bakers made on the show were pretty short. Duh! Less batter would cook and cool faster. I loaded up my baking pan with batter and there was just no way it would be done and set in 2 hours. My dread for this challenge was justified. I think that means I’m due for a successful week. Bring it on week 6.

After resting in the fridge overnight, I unmolded and decorated the cheesecake as I originally wanted to do. Though still a bit soft, the flavors were fantastic.

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Happy belated Thanksgiving! Hope everyone had a nice turkey day. This week was busy with family and Thanksgiving baking/cooking, therefore my challenges both had to be done yesterday. I will try not to do that again. Bake, wash, repeat. It was a long day.

The preheat was to bake Thanksgiving breakfast desserts taking inspiration from french toast, breakfast crepes, scones, and toaster pastries. I drew toaster pastries.

My first thought was a hand pie filled with a berry compote. We have phyllo dough in the freezer. But I made so many pies recently, I wanted to do something different. With a shorter timer of 90 minutes, I settled on making a big linzer cookie with a mixed berry filling.

I use the linzer cookie recipe off of King Arthur Flour. It’s so tasty! And in the freezer were blueberries, raspberries, and cherries. So I started with the dough and stuck that in the freezer for a quick chill while I got the berries softening in a saucepan with some cornstarch and sugar. I used an immersion blender to get it nice and smooth and then strained it to remove seeds. It didn’t look very thick, but I was hoping it would thicken as it cooled so I stuck that in the freezer and took the dough out.

I rolled the dough and traced a 9″ cake pan for the base cookie. That got baking while I rolled the rest of the dough for the top. I didn’t have a snowflake cutter big enough so I used a knife and free-handed the cut out.

When everything was ready to assemble, I realized the berry jam did not thicken at all. I spread it out pretty thin so it wouldn’t seep over the edges, and carefully transferred the cookie top over it. The top broke in several places. I forgot how delicate these cookies are. In smaller form, it’s not a problem. But a 9″ diameter was just too large. Attempting to hide some cracks, I piped a simple glaze around the snowflake edge and cookie edge, which also ties into the toaster pastry theme. I used to love toaster strudels that came with a bag of glaze.

All-in-all, I made a big cookie in 90 minutes. It tasted good, but probably a little underwhelming for the competition.

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.” That’s right, the main heat brought back teams and my mom was ready to jump in and help. You might remember a challenge a couple years ago with four pies baked together on a tray. My mom joined me and we nailed it! But this year’s challenge was a little different. We weren’t really baking together, we were competing against eachother.

The theme was Friendsgiving potluck dishes and the choices were brussel sprouts balsamic, creamed corn, sage and sausage stuffing, and glazed carrots. I had Mom draw and we got glazed carrots. Also had to add the twist of champagne somewhere in our desserts. Back to our respective kitchens, we each set our timers to 2 hours and got to work.

I decided to make a carrot cake layered with cheesecake and a champagne vanilla frosting. Cheesecake in 2 hours is a bit daunting. Generally speaking, you may need 90 minutes to bake, 2 hours to rest, and then more time to rest in the fridge. But I figured if I did them in mini springform pans (thanks Amazon!), I could cut the time down significantly. Even so, the cheesecake was the first thing I made to get those in the oven as quick as possible. I bought Junior’s cookbook recently and used that recipe, cutting it in half and dividing the batter in the 4 pans. Wrapped in foil and bathed in water, off to the oven it went.

The recipe I normally use for carrot cake requires a can of crushed pineapple and I didn’t have any on hand so I used a different recipe. It was simple, but I started worrying about cooling time. The cheesecakes came out after about 40 minutes when the temperature probe read 190F. Overdone, but praying they’d be okay. I put them in an ice bath for 10 minutes and then into the freezer. They deflated since coming out of the oven. Uh oh.

When the carrot cake was done, that needed to go straight into the freezer as well. I’ve decided I need a blast chiller. Trying to find space for 4 mini cheesecakes and an 8″ square carrot cake was nearly impossible. I moved the cheesecakes to the fridge and made the frosting with champagne while everything was cooling.

Then doubt started setting in. Will the cheesecakes be okay? How much time do I have left? Is 30 minutes enough to remake cheesecake? The answer is no, but I tried anyways.

With 8 minutes left and the remade cheesecake still in the oven, I had to go with the original. I used a biscuit cutter the closest in size to the cheesecakes that I could find and cut out 4 round pieces of cake. Topped each one with a cheesecake disc, and piped on the frosting. Using leftover frosting colored orange and green, I piped on a little carrot.

Time was up. It wasn’t as pretty as I envisioned. It didn’t scream holiday. But the cheesecake that stuck to the molds was good so I was optimistic.

Over at my mom’s kitchen, she made a festive buche de noel with a carrot cake sponge, champagne cream cheese frosting for filling, and brown sugar meringue to cover. She candied some carrots to go in the cake. She finished with 18 minutes to spare. Basically, she came to play.

My mom brought over her beautifully festive dessert for the “judges” to taste. After some deliberation on how judging would work and neither one of us able to decide, I took a large piece of her cake and one of my rounds over to a neighborhood family of four for impartial judging. They didn’t know who made which, and I sent them pics of each completed dessert.

Appearance – 4 votes for Yule log.

Icing – 2 for Yule log, 2 for cheesecake round.

Carrot cake – 3 for cheesecake round, 1 for Yule log

Overall best in show – cheesecake round just edging out the Yule log.

I know it was a tough call. Mom is a strong competitor. I’m hoping there is one more team challenge this season where we get to bake together.

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