The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
Here I am, screeching in at the very last moment, with the Daring Baker’s Challenge. I adore cheesecake and this was a great challenge presented by Jenny. Basically she told us to come up with any variety of cheesecake we wanted. I have to admit that I went to my culinary muses and asked them what they thought. My husband came up with a combination of ginger and chocolate, he was also very insistent that they be bars and not a big cake. Here, in the Midwest, any sweet cut into a square is called a “bar.” It changes this rather sophisticated flavor combination into an after school treat instead of a plated dessert. My sons Henri and Charlie whole-heartedly agreed, and then ran outside to skateboard as quickly as possible. It is very helpful to have opinionated muses.
I have to say he came up with a real winner! The rich chocolate ganache mixed with the ginger cheesecake batter sits on top of a dark chocolate and crystallized ginger crust. Marbling the two flavors and cutting them into bars makes them pure fun! I shared them with several neighbors to keep me from eating the entire batch.
The winner of the Le Creuset baking dish is announced below.
The winner of the Le Creuset Stoneware Heart Ramekin is Carrie from Oliver Ranch. In the spirit of the Dancing Deer’s Sweet Home Initiative she is donating the baking dish to an auction for a soup kitchen that Judy from No fear Entertaining is involved with in her area. I’ll be donating a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day as well and if you are interested in donating something you can get in touch with Judy or donate to your local shelter. Thank you Carrie and Judy for such a lovely gesture!
Use fresh ginger that has a smooth tight skin. If it is shriveled and dried out the ginger will be too fiborous and hard to grate, the flavor also won’t be as intense.
Chocolate-Ginger Cheesecake Bars:
chocolate cookie crust:
4 1/2 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
add to the crust after baking:
1/4 cup Marcona almonds (or any toasted almonds)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
Ginger Cheesecake batter inspired by The Essential Baker by Carole Bloom:
2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 extra large eggs (I used 5 large), at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons very finely grated fresh ginger. I used a micro-zester to do the trick.
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon (she calls for 2 lemons, but I didn’t want it to over power the ginger and clash with the chocolate)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
I then add Ganache to the cheesecake batter:
4 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a mixer cream together the butter and confectioner’s sugar until creamy. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, ginger and salt over the butter/sugar. Mix them until they are just incorporated.
Put the dough on a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap.
Roll it out to about a 1/16th of an inch. Try to get it as thin and even as possible so it bakes evenly. bake for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Once the chocolate cookie is cool, break it into pieces and place in a food processor along with the almonds, brown sugar, melted butter and crystallized ginger. Let it go until everything is well ground crumbs. Pour it back onto the silpat or parchment covered tray.
Cover with plastic and press the crumbs into an even layer.
Remove plastic and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the cheesecake batter.
To make the cheesecake:
Cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Make sure you scrape the bowl down often. Add the eggs one at a time and scrape the bowl after each addition. Add the sour cream and then the heavy cream, scraping down after each. (You are starting to get the picture, you have to scrape the bowl to prevent lumps in your cheesecake batter.) Add the ginger, zest and lemon juice. Set aside while you make the ganache.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degree
Make the ganache:
In a small sauce pan, heat the cream over medium heat. When it comes to a gentle boil turn off the heat and immediately add your chopped chocolate. Swirl the pot to make sure the chocolate is completely covered by the cream. let stand for 5 minutes and then gently whisk it until smooth. Pour the ganache into a medium sized bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes.
once the ganache is cooled pour in about a cup of the cheesecake batter and gently whisk together.
Add a total of a 1/3 of the cheesecake batter to the bowl of ganache.
Place a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip in a measuring cup and fill the bag 1/2 full with the chocolate cheesecake batter.
Pour the ginger cheesecake batter over the cooled crust and then pipe the chocolate batter in stripes over it.
Yo will have to refill your bag a few times and may have to go over the lines several times until you have used up all of the chocolate batter.
Using a chopstick or skewer draw a line back and forth from one corner to the other through the stripes in the cheesecake batter. Don’t go too deep or you will disturb the crust. Very gently tap the cheesecake on the counter to get out any air bubbles.
place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until just set. be sure not to over bake or the cheesecake will crack. It will jiggle like jello when it is ready.
Remove from oven and immediately run a knife around the outside edge. this will also prevent the cheesecake from cracking. Let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting.
Very quickly wave the tray over the stove to loosen it from the tray. Just a few seconds.
Flip it over onto another baking sheet or large cutting board. Peel off the silpat or parchment.
Flip the cheesecake onto a cutting board and remove the plastic. Using a very thin sharp Knife dipped in hot water cut the cheesecake into bars. First trim off the edge then I cut mine into 2-inch squares. If you cut the sheet in 8 rows along the long side and 6 along the short side you will have just enough.