Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Delight of the Week - The Cheesecake Abides
One of Scott's favorite movies is "The Big Lebowski" and last week he decided that it had been much too long since he had last seen it. I promised him that we'd watch it over the weekend and that I'd craft up a treat suitable for The Dude.
I dug into a few cookbooks, found an old Kahlua brochure and crafted up a White Russian Cheesecake. I like to think that if The Dude actually did more than drink White Russians, he'd really dig this cheesecake.
I decided that a caramel nut crust would be perfect to offset the cheesecake flavor. Adding a bit of Kahula to the crust helps keep the flavor through the entire dessert. In addition to the crushed graham crackers and pecans, a dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg is a delight.
I recommend crushing the graham crackers in a food processor with the nuts. It creates a more uniform crust. Add the spices to the cracker and nut mixture to really combine the flavors.
Once the butter and sugar are caramelized, add the crushed crackers and nuts. Heat until all ingredients are warmed.
Wrap parchment paper around a small ramekin and use it to press the warmed crust into a 9-inch Springform pan. Since the crust is made in a skillet, there is no need to bake this crust.
Once the crust is made, the cheesecake can be created. It takes a lot of cream cheese to make a dense cheesecake. Density is important in a cheesecake. Make sure to really whip the cream cheese before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Once the cheesecake is mixed, fill the springform pan being careful to leave at least 1 inch from the top of the pan.
I did not follow my own advice and filled the pan almost to the top. The cheesecake puffed up a bit and almost over flowed the pan. Oops!
Once the cheesecake is baked, allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes before placing it in the fridge for at least 6 hours. We tried to dig into the cheesecake before it had fully chilled and really it wasn't as good as when we waited for it to fully chill.
A brown sugar and bourbon cream topping really brought the cheesecake to life. Of course this meant an extra trip to the liquor store but it was worth it for this whipped cream topping. Also no need to buy the expensive bourbon for this, the cheap ones will work just fine once they are mixed with the remaining ingredients.
The recipe follows after the jump.
White Russian Cheesecake
Makes about 12 servings
1 3/4 lb cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 Tablespoons Vodka
1 cup sour cream
Caramel Nut Crust Ingredients
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon Kahlua
1/2 cup chopped pecans
5 graham crackers, crushed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Brown Sugar and Bourbon Cream Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons bourbon
1. Make the Caramel Nut Crust - In skillet, over low heat, stir butter and sugar until they begin to caramelize. Add the Kahlua and heat for 2 minutes. In a food processor, crush the graham crackers, nuts and spices. Add the cracker mixture to the skillet and heat through. While the crust mixture is still warm, press in an even layer into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
2. Make the Cheesecake - Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in sugar, salt and vanilla paste and mix. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in Kahula and vodka. Pour cheesecake mixture into prepared crust. Set on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before spreading stirred sour cream over the top. Place in the fridge for at least 6 hours before serving.
3. Make the Brown Sugar and Bourbon Cream - Whisk the heavy cream, sour cream, brown sugar and salt until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. When ready to serve the cheesecake, add the bourbon and whip the cream mixture until it is fluffy and doubled in volume. Top the chilled cheesecake with the whipped cream mixture.