I made a cheesecake! A chocolate cheesecake that tasted like it had been bought from an expensive patisserie! I feel bound to share my recipe straight away – it would be a crime not to reveal how easy it actually is to create the perfect dessert to a lovingly-prepared meal. So here goes:
- Oreo cookies – 18, crushed to crumbs in a food processor
- Cold butter – 50 g.
- Philadephia cream cheese – 4 packages, 200g. each (do choose full fat) at room temperature
- Sugar – 1 cup (250 ml. capacity)
- Cooking chocolate – 200 g. (the darker, the better)
- Eggs – 3 at room temperature
- Strawberries – 500g. lopped into large chunks
Begin by preparing a springform tin with baking paper. Since it was my first time, I was quite manic about doing things exactly as this blogger described. So I greased and then lined the base of my cake tin with paper. I brush vegetable oil on the base of cake tins to grease them. Then I cut a strip of baking paper to go around the sides of the cake tin. I greased and lined the sides too, trimming off excess paper. Then I turned the tin upside down and covered it’s bottom with three sheets of aluminium foil until I was sure it was quite impermeable – this was to ensure no water seeped into my lovely biscuit base as I baked the cake in a water bath. I then turned on my oven to 180 C.
My European package of Oreos had only 14 cookies in it. So I weighed 4 cookies on my kitchen scales, and added their worth of weight in Digestives to my cookie crumbs. Yes I am manic like that and you are reading Nutty Bread after all. I whizzed the biscuits with the cold, cold butter, straight from the fridge and chopped up into little cubes, in my food processor. I pressed the mixture into the bottom of my prepared cake tin, using the bottom of a measuring cup to achieve an even and smooth base. Here’s a photo, mid-process, for you to see:
The white bits are the cream filling from the cookies and the cream coloured bits are the crumbs from the Digestives. Then I ‘blind-baked’ this base in the oven for ten minutes. (I love that word.) At the end of the ten minutes, I put the cake tin into the fridge to cool.
Then I proceeded to melt my chocolate in a double-boiler of my own invention. I perch a stainless steel bowl on a tiny saucepan of boiling water and use a little whisk to melt my chocolate. Here is the whole apparatus for you to see:
I took the melted chocolate off the bubbling saucepan and left it to cool on the counter-top while I plunged on with whipping the four packages of cream cheese with my electric whisk that has only one setting – fast. My mother bought this whisk for me as part of my wedding trousseau and I cannot part with it even though many recipes ask for things to be beaten at a slow speed. I just beat them at whatever speed my whisk decides to function on that day. So I beat the cream cheese and the sugar together. Then I beat the eggs into this mixture, one at a time. Finally I poured my cooled, melted chocolate in. (You don’t want the chocolate to be anything less than completely cool for fear of the eggs misbehaving.) It looked quite seductive:
More beating – but just enough to get everything together. Someone, somewhere said overbeating a cheesecake is counter-productive. The batter began looking good enough to eat! Look at this!
I poured it into the cooled base.
I put the cake tin into a roasting pan with boiling water coming half way up the sides to ensure the eggs and cheese cooked gently. They are, after all, in essence, the ingredients that custards arise from and as such, should be treated accordingly. I’m going to try out another technique next time though. Putting a pan of boiling water in the bottom of a preheated oven should have the same effect of making the air inside nice and steamy. Here is where I’ve read up on this.
This time however, with my cake sitting in a hot water bath, I began baking at 160 C with the timer set for a total of 50 minutes. At the end of the 50 minutes, the cake came out quite set but wobbled a little in the middle of the pan. This is normal according to all that I’ve read. So I allowed it too cool completely on the kitchen counter and carefully removed the aluminium foil on its base. The foil was quite drenched and I feared some of that water somehow making its way into the cake base. When the cake was quite cool, I let it chill overnight in the refrigerator, still in its tin. I covered the top of the tin loosely with tin foil.
Just before serving it at dinner the next day, I unclipped the side of the tin and lifted it off carefully. I peeled the wax paper away from the sides of the cake and transferred it, with the bottom of the springform still under it, onto a cake pedestal. It would have been too risky trying to remove the base of the springform tin. Here is a picture of it as it sat waiting to be cut.
The cake turned out to be very creamy, luscious. The only way to ensure making clean cuts into it is to cut it with a hot knife. Here is how I did it – I filled a mug with boiling water and submerged two sharp knives into it. I kept a nice wad of kitchen paper to dry the knives on by my side. I cut into the cake with my hot knives, alternating one with the other so I always had a hot blade at hand to cut into the cake with. I served each slice with the strawberries which cut into the sweetness of the cake very nicely with their tartness. The oohs and aahs began almost instantaneously and it was too late before I could take one last photo of my fast-disappearing debut cheesecake. Here it is for you to enjoy,