Friday, December 3, 2010

Fun in the Kitchen #8 - Marble Cheesecake

Several weeks ago, I shared with you a roast chicken recipe.  Everything seemed to turn out pretty well.
Looks good to me.
Now, I understand that you can't please everybody, but I was a little surprised by one of the comments.

As far as the whole bacon thing goes.  Well,  I think I more than covered the wonders of my favorite pork product in my last Fun in the Kitchen post. 
Do not taunt the Bacon Eruption.
But, to call me a food racist?  Really?  REALLY!?!   Well, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous (if that IS your real name) this dessert is just for you: Marble Cheesecake.

Now, before we get going, I would highly recommend that you have two pieces of kitchen hardware.  First, is a springform pan.  It's basically a pie tin with sides that separate from the bottom.  This will make things a heckuva lot easier when your cheesecake is done.
The bottom and sides lock together to form a pie pan.
The second thing you should have is a good stand mixer.  Is it possible to make a cheesecake without a mixer?  Sure.  But, you'll end up with some awfully sore forearms.
This ought to do the trick.
Let's take a look at the ingredient list.  It's fairly lengthy, but there's nothing too exotic.

For the Crust (oh, did I mention we'll be making our own crust?)
1 1/4 cups Graham Cracker crumbs - about 10-12 crackers
5 tablespoons melted butter (unsalted)
1 tablespoon sugar

For the Filling
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese (5 packages)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 pinch of salt
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 egg yolks (you know, just the yellow part)
6 eggs
1 tablespoon butter (unsalted)

For the Creamy Chocolate Marble
1/4 cup heavy cream
5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Filling on the left, chocolate marble in the middle and crust on the right.
The Crust
Sure, you could take the easy way out and just buy a pre-made crust, but where would the fun be in that?  Making a crust from scratch is a piece of cake, uh...crust.  Trust me.  Just mix all 3 ingredients into a bowl and then dump it into the springform pan.  Then, evenly flatten the mixture across the bottom of the pan.  Any flat surface will do.  I used a large measuring cup.
Just squash it down in there.
Next, bake the crust at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  12 minutes seemed to work fine for me. 
Set the crust aside and get ready to do some mixing.

The Filling
The idea here is to just keep the mixer running and add the ingredients at regular intervals.

Minute 0: Start by cutting the cream cheese into smaller cubes and mixing them on low.  I would recommend using the 'dough-hook' to start out, otherwise, you'll be cleaning out the beater every couple of seconds. 

Minute 3: Add the salt and half of your sugar.

Minute 6: Add the rest of your sugar

Minute 9: The mixture will start to loosen up at this point, so go ahead and switch out the dough-hook for the standard mixer attachment. Then, you can add the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
The more ingredients you add, the more it will turn from lumpy to soupy.  That's a good thing.
Minute 12: Add the egg yolks.

Minute 15: Start adding the eggs - 2 every 30 seconds.

That's it.  You're filling is mixed.  Go ahead and pour it over the crust.  Be gentle.
The filling should just about top off the pan.
Now, we could stop here and just pop this sucker into the oven.  But then this wouldn't be a very diverse dessert, would it?  Let's make everybody happy and add some chocolate.

The Chocolate Marble
Bring the heavy cream to a boil.  Then, add the chocolate and reduce the heat.  Whisk the in the chocolate and in just a couple of minutes, you'll have a wonderful milky mixture.
I can't think of any dessert that melted milk chocolate won't make better.
Spoon the chocolate onto the top of the cheesecake filling.
Then, use a knife to gently incorporate the mixture.  Make sure to push some of the chocolate down deeper into the pan.  Before long, you'll have a nice, diverse, marble.

When you're happy with your marble, slide the pan into an oven set to 500 degrees.   After 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 200. Now, the top of my cheesecake was a nice dark golden brown.  If you want a lighter brown top, turn down the heat a couple minutes earlier.

Now, the filling is going to expand in the oven.  After 1 1/2 hours, run a knife around the outside of the pan.  Why?  Well, the filling is going to expand in the oven.  Later on, when it cools, it will contract again.  If the sides of the filling are stuck to the pan, the filling will crack.  You want a nice pretty cheesecake, don't you?

After another 90 minutes, carefully remove the pan and let it cool on a rack.
Oops.  I can see your crack!
This cheesecake is going to be pretty thick, so it'll take several hours to fully cool down.  In fact, I like to make mine a day ahead and let them cool overnight in the fridge.

When you're ready to serve this puppy, let it warm up for about 30 minutes.  To make the springform easier to remove, microwave a damp dishtowel and wrap it around the pan.  After a couple of minutes, you can loosen the spring and carefully remove the pan.  Then, you're ready to slice and serve.  Enjoy!
Ahh, vanilla and chocolate working together.  Ain't diversity great?
Now, I'm not going to take credit for this recipe.  I got it out of my America's Test Kitchen cookbook.  Sure, I may have tweaked a few things here and there, but I don't want to take credit for their work.

In any event, with Christmas just around the corner, you can look forward to some good down-home cooking.  By which I mean food from the Homeland.  That's right. Swedish food!

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