Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweet Sugary Love

Dear blog,

I sincerely apologize for not having been to see you or write to you recently. It has caused much anguish in my heart that I've been laboring over papers, essays, tests, and books rather than mixing together sugars, butter, flour, and creating something delicious to write to you about. Or even having time to go out and eat a delicious dessert. Instead I have been hard at work, stuffing spoonfuls of cookies and cream ice cream into my face in my moments of chocolate cravings.

But, the good news is I have something fun to write about.

Although it was quite a while away now, I baked delicious cheesecake for Valentine's day. When I found the recipe I knew it was perfect, especially with the heart shaped pans I have. So, although it's almost a month late, revel in the delicious cheesecake goodness.

Double Decker Oreo Cheesecake

Ready in about 6 hours. So prepare ahead of time.
Difficulty: 3   - Not so hard preparation, but there is a knowledge in baking Cheesecake that I had no grasp of when I started.

First off, be smarter than I was. Go here and read article on making Cheesecake. It will give you all the tips and tricks that I didn't have. This means you will not have cracks in your cheesecake, you will not idle near it worriedly as I did, and the edges will not be a little crispier than you expected. I had a few problems since my pan sizes were different than they were, which led me to be edgy and leave it in longer than I needed since I wasn't sure how to check for Cheesecake. The thermometer is so clever it didn't even cross my mind. So be sure to read up just to keep your cheesecake beautiful and soft.

Now, the Ingredients:
  • 1 package of Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies. (try not to eat most of them if you are making the whole 16 serving recipe, it was hard for me)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 4 packages of 8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 squares (1 oz) Semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Now remember if you're a little health conscious, like me, you can use reduced fat cream cheese and sour cream and margarine. It's still just as delicious. So don't worry about eating a few extra slices.

You begin by heating the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. This is where you should also get your pan ready, whether it be springform, cupcake, regular cake, or heart-shaped. While I just greased mine up with baking spray, I like the idea of lining it with parchment paper, it may make for a lot less of a mess in the end. Especially with this multi-layered cheesecake. In addition, if you are using a springform or anything that might let water seep into it, cover the outside with the tinfoil to keep water from getting in and ruining the texture of your cake.

Now is the fun part. Whip out your food processor (this was the first time I got to use mine!), throw about 30 cookies in there, and grind until fine. I really enjoyed this part. Perhaps a little too much. Then add the butter (either in your processor or another bowl) and mix well. This will be your crust so carefully press into the bottom of your pan, covering each part equally. They recommend a 13x9 for this recipe, so be sure you do conversions to make sure you don't have too much extra crust like I did - unless you enjoy eating cookie crumbs and having them fall into your blouse. oops!

In a large bowl, beat all your cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until well blended. Add in the sour cream and mix it all up. Add your eggs one at a time, beating after each one until just blended. Over beating, which I have often done, will let more air into your batter causing for a higher chance of cracks on the surface.

Then we deviate from the recipe a little. I enjoy reading the comments on each recipe on allrecipes, because they will always clue you into little slip ups in the overall structure. Here you should split the cheesecake batter in half. In one half of the batter stir in the melted chocolate. Hopefully you split it in half exactly so it's not too chocolately (where you can always add more plain batter) or not chocolatey enough (where you're just sad). Pour the chocolate batter into the cheesecake pan first, spreading it across the pan. Then pour the regular batter on top of the chocolate batter. This is a lot easier to spread on top of another batter because of the softness it has without the thick chocolate. Then have fun sprinkling the remaining cookies on top, either by crumbling them with your hands or chopping them up.

Now comes the meticulous part. Place your cheesecake pan into another pan (whatever it fits in that has high sides) and use a teakettle - or some other kind of pouring device that won't get the liquid into your cheesecake - to pour hot water in the outer pan. Then bake for 45 minutes or until the center is 'set'. I'm not 100% sure what set should mean, but I know it shouldn't be too brown and it shouldn't be still that soft batter. It will be 160-165 degrees F. if you are smart and use a thermometer. If you aren't smart and don't have one (like me) then you can use a small knife in the center, like a cake, to see if it comes out clean.

After baking it will need to cool completely. After that run a knife around the edges to keep it from sticking, like most of mine did, and let it refrigerate for around 4 hours. I dug in too fast, but if you look to the right at that beauty, how could you resist?
Okay, so it's not that beautiful. The edges are a little more brown because I didn't adjust the time exactly for my smaller pan, the top is a bit cracked since I didn't put it in a water bath, BUT it was still yummy. The cookies, chocolate, and cheesecake layers all blended together nicely and I couldn't resist eating it every day for dessert for quite a few days.

All in all, it was a good learning experience. Cheesecake does take a lot more thought than just following a simple recipe and throwing stuff together. I think I like it that way. Maybe I'll try it again soon.

But, until then, I still have lots of papers and work to do. Stress baking or stress eating will commence soon.
Don't worry. I'll tell you all about it.

- Mollie

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