Monday, July 14, 2008

Bastille Day Cheesecake

I made a three layer cheesecake for my friend's Bastille Day party. The picture is an in-progress shot. The cake was huge, and served about 16 people who were also eating from other desserts.

The recipe is a bastardization of about 3 different recipes from Cook's Illustrated, Epicurious and cdkitchen. Here's roughly what I did.

(Cook's Illustrated)
Line bottom of 9-inch springform pan with foil, tuck foil underneath pan bottom, assemble pan, then pull foil around side of pan, (see illustrations 1 and 2, below). Brush bottom and sides with butter.

In a bowl stir together the cookie crumbs and the butter until the mixture is combined well and pat the mixture onto the bottom and 1/2 inch up the side of a 9 1/2-inch springform pan. Chill the crust for 30 minutes.

(Cook's Illustrated)
Meanwhile, beat cream cheese in food processor until smooth. Gradually add sugar and mix until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.

(winging it)
Split the cream cheese-sugar combo into thirds. To the first third, add about 1 cup of frozen blackberries. Mix until smooth. if desired, add blue food coloring (The mixture was purple, and adding the blue didn't have much effect. in the future I might omit it.)

Beat two eggs, and from that mixture, pour about 1.3 eggs into the food processor. Add 2 TBS each cream and sour cream. mix until just incorporated (this is why you don't add the frozen fruit at the end; you don't want to beat the eggs or cream much).

(modified from cdkitchen)
Pour blackberry portion into crust. freeze for 40 minutes. meanwhile, prepare the strawberry and vanilla portions in the same way as the first, adding 1/2 tsp vanilla to the vanilla portion only. You'll use 4 eggs in all. refrigerate each portion while waiting to pour them.

When the blackberry layer is firm, remove from freezer and add vanilla layer. In the picture, I've spooned on a little of the vanilla layer to see how well the blackberry level has gelled. Freeze till firm, about 1/2 hour. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Add red layer when vanilla is firm.

(Cook's Illustrated)
Bake cheesecake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees, leaving oven door ajar until oven temperature reduces. Bake until perimeter of cake is set, but center jiggles like Jell-O when pan is tapped, about 1 hour longer. Remove springform pan and set on wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours. (Can be refrigerated up to 4 days.)

(hard learned lesson)
Note: you really must refrigerate for 4 hours or the center of the cake won't set. You'll be left with a gooey, tasty mess. To make the cheesecake on the day you'll eat it, it has to be started at least 7 hours before.

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