Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"It's a Girl" Vanilla Cheesecake with Biscoff Cookie Crust

When your oldest friend and his wife are having their first baby, a girl, it calls for cheesecake. Pink cheesecake. Covered in mini rubber duckies.

It just does.

Never mind that you've never made a cheesecake before. Never mind that, as it turns out, cheesecake falls if left in the fridge overnight, and there's no time to remake it (the irony, of course, being that it was made a day in advance so that, in the event of a disaster, there would be time for it to be remade). Never mind that the pink turned out more pepto and less "it's a girl"...Never mind all that. You persevere.

And it's lucky that you did because it was delicious. And this is coming from a self-professed cheesecake hater. I know, I know. Credibility plummeting. Bear with me, though, because I know a good thing when I taste it. And this was it.

The cake itself was pretty much a guaranteed win because it was from Joanne Chang's Flour Cookbook, and everything Joanne touches turns to baking gold. But, aside from the obvious risks involved with baking an entire new variety of cake for the first time, I also did a little on-the-fly improvising with the crust. No big deal - I just replaced the graham crackers with Biscoff Cookies - but not having any precedent or instinct for these sorts of things, I had no idea if it was a simple 1:1 replacement. It turns out it was.

I had already planned to top the cake with girl-themed rubber duckies (one of my favorite, easy baby shower tricks; you can find them online), but at the last minute I grabbed some food coloring and dyed the cake pink too. I'll be honest: it was petrifying. Once you start adding food coloring, there's no going back. But although I would've liked it to be a little more obviously pink, I arrived at a formula of about  7-8 drops red + 1.5 drops blue to get to this shade of pink. It matched the ducks almost perfectly, for better or worse.

In the end, this ended up being a learning experience. I'll probably never try another cheesecake recipe, after tasting the perfectly tangy creaminess of Joanne's recipe and the crumbly cinnamony-ness of the Biscoff crust. But in the future, I'll definitely avoid letting the finished product sit too long so that it maintains its gorgeous straight-out-of-the-oven height. In the course of my research, I discovered that it may be advantageous to actually let the cake sit for 4-6 hours in the pan before baking. Next time, I might also consider mixing the filling in the stand mixer, rather than the food processor to try to get a little more air into the batter, which will translate into a little fluffier cake.

Anyway, if you are still reading, thank you for following along with my cheesecake adventure. And, although I was really happy with the outcome of this cake, I'd love to hear any tips and tricks that you use when you make cheesecake.

"It's a Girl" Vanilla Cheesecake with Biscoff Cookie Crust
Adapted, very slightly, from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe

48 graham crackers (12 sheets) or about 32 Biscoff cookies
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons + 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 pounds full fat plain cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 large eggs, warmed to room temperature
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is preferable)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350F.

Cover the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper (not wax paper!). Generously butter a springform pan (or thoroughly coat with nonstick spray), ensuring the bottom and sides are completely covered. Set it aside.

In a food processor, pulse the graham cracker or Biscoff cookies into crumbs. Use 2-3 Tablespoons of the crumbs to dust the sides of the pan. Add the butter and the 2 Tablespoons of sugar and process until the mixture becomes uniform. Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake the crust for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside on a wire rack. Turn down the oven to 325 degrees.

While the crust is baking, clean the bowl of the food processor or fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Process the cream cheese or beat on medium speed for at least one minute or until smooth. Add the remaining sugar and process or beat for 10-15 seconds, or until combined. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs and process or beat for 1-2 minutes, or until well-mixed. Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, salt and sour cream and process or beat for 1-2 more minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl one more time and process or beat for 15-20 more second, just to make sure everything is smooth and thoroughly mixed. Pour the mixture into the baked crust.

Place the springform pan in a deep roasting pan and pour enough water into the roasting pan to reach about halfway up the side of the springform. Gently place on the oven rack and bake for 90 minutes or until the sides of the cheesecake are set, but the center wiggles just a bit.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven, and let it cool on a wire rack at room temperature for about an hour, and Joanne also recommends refrigerating for 3-4 hours before serving. I refrigerated overnight and the cake fell, so, um, don't exceed 4 hours.

To serve, remove the sides of the pan but do not remove cake from the pan bottom. Just slice and serve straight from the bottom of the springform pan.

Store cheesecake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.


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  1. Well I think the cheesecake looks fabulous, fallen or otherwise. And the biscoff crust decision was genius. Totally a game-changer!

  2. they are so cute and adorable.. i like it so much.

  3. Biscoff Cookie Crust + Cheesecake in the title = ME SWOONING SO BAD. This looks amazing!

  4. Congrats on your first cheesecake! Fallen or not, I'll take a slice! (PS. You should totally give cheesecake another go--it's worth it!)

  5. Thanks, Erin! I definitely have to keep working on my technique - what a great excuse to make many more cheesecakes...

  6. Hi Nora! It makes me happy to see that you've been trying your hand at cheesecakes recently, despite your cheesecake-hating status haha (: I personally think that of all the cheesecakes, vanilla cheesecake is the most difficult to work with when it comes to achieving that perfect tall, unsunken top and satiny smooth texture inside.

    I'm still trying to work out a solution to the sinking problem (a good excuse to make more delicious cheesecakes!), but I think ultimately the most important quality of any dessert is taste...and really, everything else falls into place sooner or later. Also, I love your idea of Biscoff crust! I've always wanted to try that (:

  7. This is beautiful! I think you did an amazing job! And I adore the mini rubber duckies :)

  8. Anne ~ Uni HomemakerOctober 17, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Congrats to your friend on their first baby and to your first cheesecake! Love the biscoff cookie crust. Can't go wrong there Nora. Delicious! :)

  9. Thanks, Anne! I will pass along your congratulations!

  10. So cute and sounds amazing! I love how you made it pink, great job!

  11. Monet@anecdotesandapples.comOctober 19, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    I think this looks gorgeous, and I know any and all parents-to-be couldn't be more thrilled! Especially with that crust! This is too cute...and many warm congrats to this growing family!

  12. I think it's a gorgeous shade of pink! I've never heard that tip about letting it sit before baking. I must try it! Although, if it's delicious, who cares if it falls? :)

  13. Thank you so much! I will be sure to pass along your congrats :)

  14. Thank you! It turns out there are a lot of little tricks to getting the perfect cheesecake... and they all seem to contradict each other :) But the sitting beforehand comes from a pretty reliable source, so I think it must help! Either way, it tastes great, so you're right, who cares about the rest!?

  15. 1. Adorable!!!
    2. Must be so darn good... <3

  16. The cake is so cute! And it looks delicious with a nice creamy texture. I love the biscoff crust too! My trick is to turn off the oven when it's done but don't remove the cake - leave it in there for another hour or so - it helps prevent cracks and shrinkage. {P.S. I think you have a typo - you say to process the sugar for 10 - 15 minutes?}

  17. Thanks, Reeni! I will definitely try your trick next time. I've tried leaving it in the oven a few extra minutes, but never as long as an hour. I'll bet that will make a lot of difference. You are right about the typo - it's supposed to be 10-15 seconds. I made the change. Thanks for catching that! :)


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