The title of Maida Heatter’s new book sums up why I love my job, Happiness is Baking. When I am sad, I bake! When I am celebrating, I bake! No matter where my mood starts out, I’m always carried to a place of joy as I make my way through a recipe. Maida Heatter has lead me on so many journeys in the kitchen that they are literally countless. I have nearly all of her books and was so thrilled to find out that at the happy age of 102, she has a new one for all of us bakers to enjoy. I went to a classic recipe, the Maida Heatter Bull’s Eye Cheesecake, because it is so striking and delicious. I believe she developed this recipe for one of her first books in 1974. The recipe stands alone and needs nothing but a plate and fork, but sometimes I just can’t leave well enough alone and I draped the whole thing in a glossy ganache.
You can watch me make the Maida Heatter Bull’s Eye Cheesecake and pour the ganache over the top for a perfectly smooth finish in my instagram videos. Maida Heatter and her publisher have graciously allowed me to share the recipe, which is below.
You can also find my Show Stopping Cheesecake Class on Craftsy (Now BluePrint), where I show this technique and all kinds of other simple and fancy cheesecakes.
Maida Heatter Bull’s Eye Cheesecake
Zoë’s Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust – Maida just scatters 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs on the bottom of the baked cheesecake, but I like a more substantial crust, so I added one. Try either.
140g graham crackers (9 full sized crackers)
4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoons baking soda
Maida Heatter Bull’s Eye Cheesecake Batter (all ingredients at room temperature)
2 pounds (907g) cream cheese (Philadelphia brand is Maida’s go to and mine too!)
1/4 cup (60g) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (make your own)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2/3 cup (150g) sugar (for the white striped batter)
2/3 cup (150g) brown sugar (for the chocolate striped batter)
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder (I used 1 tablespoon brewed espresso, since I didn’t have the powder)
2 teaspoons dark cocoa powder (I used 1 tablespoon for a more intense color and flavor)
Zoë’s Ganache Topping (optional) – the ganache gives the cheesecake a bit of elegance and panache (and I couldn’t resist the rhyme).
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons brewed espresso (or 2 teaspoons espresso powder)
1 pound (454g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
57g solid coconut oil
To prepare the cheesecake
Preheat oven to 350°F
Grease an 8 x 3-Inch Cake Pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment. (This Pan is NOT a springform, which may leak when baking in a water bath. I will show you how to get the cake out of the pan in my instagram video.)
Crust: In a Food Processor, pulverize the graham crackers until they are powdered. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture is coated evenly with the butter. Firmly press the crust in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until it looks dry. Allow to cool as you prepare the batter.
To prepare the cheesecake:
Beat the cream cheese until smooth with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, on medium-low speed. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla & almond extracts and salt. Scrape the bowl often and make sure the mixture is smooth before continuing. Add the eggs, one at a time.
Divide the batter into two bowls. Add the granulated sugar to one bowl, mix well until sugar is dissolved. Add the brown sugar, espresso and cocoa powder to the second bowl and mix well until sugar is dissolved.
To layer the batters:
Pour 3/4 cup of the cocoa batter onto the center of the cooled crust. Pour 3/4 cup of the white batter into the center of the cocoa batter in the pan. Pour 3/4 of the cocoa batter into the center of the white batter in the pan. Repeat this process until you’ve used all the batter, going back and forth with the two colors. The batter will spread and some of the stripes will be submerged, but you will end up with a bull’s eye pattern on top and striped when it is cut. You can watch me make this in my Craftsy Cheesecake Class.
Place the cheesecake in a waterbath, tent and vent with foil, see the instagram video or Craftsy Cheesecake Class to see this process.
Bake for about 90 minutes or until the top is set and slightly puffed up. Remove from the oven, run a knife around the cake and allow to cool in the waterbath, so it cools slowly. See this process in my Craftsy Cheesecake Class.
Remove from pan by waving the pan over the open flame or hot coils of your stove, run the knife around the edge again and invert the cake on to a plastic covered flat disk (cardboard round or the false bottom of a tart pan work well). Invert the cake onto an 8-Inch Cardboard Cake Circle that fits the bottom exactly. If you are not covering in ganache, you can invert directly onto the serving plate. Refrigerate until ready to cover in ganache.
To make the ganache:
Heat the cream and espresso until simmering, turn off heat. Add the chopped chocolate and coconut oil, swirl until the chocolate is submerged in the hot cream, allow to sit for 3 minutes. Gently whisk until smooth. Allow to cool until thick and just about room temperature.
Place the cake on a cooling rack, over a parchment lined baking sheet and pour the ganache over the cake. See my instagram or Craftsy class for instructions on how to pour it into a perfectly smooth sheet. Allow to sit several minutes before moving, then refrigerate the cheesecake still on the rack. Run a knife or spatula under the cake and move to a serving plate. Keep refrigerated until ready to cut and serve.
Thank you to Maida Heatter for graciously sharing her wisdom and this recipe. Thank you to her publisher Little, Brown and Company for sending the book!