Ria's Collection: My first ever Daring Baker's Challenge - Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake-Time to get creative!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My first ever Daring Baker's Challenge - Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake-Time to get creative!

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.... It's my first ever Daring Baker's Challenge!! Ahhh feels so good!! I am wondering why on earth did I not join this long back! Anyways I am happy that I finally did! :)
Thank you Lis & Ivonne for coming up with such a brilliant idea :) DB rocks!!!! And thank you sooo much Jenny for coming up with this melt-in- the -mouth recipe!Thanks Abbey!!

The challenge is to how we play with the basic recipe and make it a showstopper which includes a topping too! I thought i'll take it slow and so stayed very close to the basic recipe and gave a simple topping using my mom's grape syrup.

The only thing which made me pause for a while is that we don't get cream cheese here. But being a Daring Baker I chose not to be panicky but to get going! Voila! I made my own cream cheese! It was beautiful!!!

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

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

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

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature [I made my own...recipe follows]
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

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.

Recipe for Homemade Cream Cheese:

Milk- 2 litres

Citric Acid- 1 1/2 tsp

Water- 1/4 cup


  • Heat the milk. Once it starts to boil, add citric acid diluted in 1/4 cup of water.

  • Stir slowly. You can see clearly the cheese forming.

  • Strain the mixture using a cheesecloth. The whey can be used instead of water for mixing doughs, for gravies etc.

  • Hang the cheese for 15 minutes. Do not squeeze the water out.Blend it using a blender to get a smooth cream cheese.
Grape flavour topping:

Grape syrup- 1/2 cup [ you can use any flavour]
Water - 1 cup [depends on how sweet the syrup is]
Gelatin - 1 tbsp

Mix grape syrup and water. Sprinkle gelatin over it. Let the gelatin swell up.
Heat the mixture till gelatin melts. Cool slightly and pour over the cheesecake.
Leave it in the fridge to set.

Oh! My topping couldn't bear the heat anymore!!

I served it as squares rather than the usual triangles.

This was huge hit at home! I mean who can resist such a creamy, soft yummilicious cheesecake!! Will definately make it again!!



Audax Artifex said...

Congrats on your 1st successful challenge. Grape now that is unusual just love the oolour and texture looks just right. Good to hear that everybody liked it it's such a good recipe. Bravo Bravo Bravo Ria I hope you have many more challenges.

Rachel said...

Good Job on your first challenge Ria..Very pretty glaze.

Elle said...

Congrats on you first Daring Bakers' challenge! Great job! You even made your own cheese. The grape glaze looks so lovely and I like the squares for presentation.

Yasmeen said...

Welcome to DB Ria.Congrats on such a perfect finish of the first challenge.Love the grape syrup topping:)

Jenny Tan said...

Great job for your 1st challenge, and on top of that - MAKING YOUR OWN CREAM CHEESE!!! :) Thanks for sharing the recipe for making cream cheese. You're amazing Ria! :)

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers, and congratulations on your first completed challenge - I cannot believe you made your own home made cream cheese! Unbelievable!

Varsha Vipins said...

Kudos gal..go go go..:)
Adipoli tto..but kurachoode close n clear pics avayirunnu..sarikkumoru idea kittan..but am sure its darn yummy..:)

Ammu said...

The cheese cake looks yummy! All the best..am sure you could come up with a million yummy variations to any basic recipe!

Justin said...

it looks yummy to me

saffronapron.blogspot.com said...

Your debut is a box office hit:)
Keep going gal.

ice tea: sugar high said...

Wow.. homemade cheesecake. You're daring indeed!

Malar Gandhi said...

FIrst time, hard to believe it tho'...looks gorgeous, tempting...who could resist this, right.

Junie Moon said...

What a great result for your first challenge. I'm super impressed that you made your own cream cheese, that's definitely an additional challenge you faced and conquered.

Vandana Sarah said...

Yummmyyylicious indeed!!!
And good job on the successful completiong of your challenge.

Arlene Delloro said...

My goodness, homemade cream cheese. You really ARE a Daring Baker. Looks great.

Lauren said...

Mmm, your cheesecake looks amazing!! Congrats on your first challenge =D.

Chantal said...

Welcome to DB!!!! Homemade cream cheese...way cool!!! And I have some citric acid on hand as I intend to make mozzarella...imagine that!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your first challenge! The cheesecake looks so tender and creamy.

tina said...

Congrats on your first challenge and your cheesecake looks wonderful!

Swapna said...

Congrats on your 1st successful DB challenge Ria!!!

Subhie Arun said...

congrats....ur cakes looks delicious n yummy....keep rocking gal...perfect site for sweetooth ...ppls..like ur colections

veena said...

Hi Ria ..
u gt a great blog ..Congrats on ur first challenge ..adding u in mylog roll ..keep in touch ..

Unknown said...

wow!you did it.Your cheescake definitely looks great.Yummy!What a good idea to use grape syrup :)

Tina said...

adipoli dear thakarppan....

Parita said...

Hi Ria..first time here..nice blog you have...love the cheesecake..grape topping sounds delicious and interesting :)

Meghna said...

Hey Riya.. I saw ur DB challenge.. It's awesome.. Congrats on First DB challenge.. Inspired out of this, i've also joined in the DB forum.. :):) Keep up the good work..

Ria Mathew said...

Audax-Thank you so much , you have been a constant support for me throughout!!

Rachel- Thank you so much! Loved yours too!!

Elle-Thank you so much! :)

Yasmeen-That's so sweet of you!! Thanks a ton!

Jenny Tan & Bakergirlcreations-Thank you very much! It was just a trial which was very successful!!

Varsha-Thank you for pointing it out! Will surely work upon it :)

Ammu-Thank you so much!

Vincent-Thank you for visiting and for your invite! I have joined your community!! You have a lovely site!!

Justin,Smita,Ice-Tea,Malar,Junie Moon,Vandu chechy,Arlene,Lauren,Singing Horse,Tina,Swapna,Subhie,Sweetipie,Tina,Parita-Thank you very very much! Keep coming back for more!!! :)

Chantal-That's amazing!!! I would love to give it a try!!!Thanks for dropping by!! :)

Veena-Thank you so much for adding me to your blogroll!! You have a lovely blog too!! :)

Meghna-Wow! That's a wonderful compliment!!Thank you so much for dropping by and also joining DB!! Saw your new blog, lemon cake is so beautiful :)

Thank you all once again for your support!!! You guys are fantastic! Love you all!!!


Anonymous said...


Congratulations on your first DB challenge! And homemade cream cheese? WELL DONE! :-)

Your cake looks delicious, and I love the idea of adding grape flavor - that's one I haven't played around with yet. I'm the Abbey behind the recipe, and wanted to thank you for all your kind words. I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe!


Unknown said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers. I think the grape syrup must have been perfect with this creamy cheesecake! I never think of doing grape elements in desserts and I must remedy this soon. 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

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