The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
My first challenge for The Daring Bakers. I debated this for a long time; I asked for friends’ favorite flavors, pored over my cookbooks, searched Flickr for inspiration. I finally decided to make it while I was on vacation, visiting friends that shared my love of dark beer, so I made Chocolate Stout Cheesecake. And I made it not in my own kitchen, where my modest collection of kitchen gadgets and ample counter space reside, but the kitchen of my friend Ryan, an unmarried 30-something who keeps his refrigerator stocked with just yogurt, energy bars, and beer, and doesn’t own measuring spoons or mixing bowls. Baking in such primitive conditions was the challenge; making my first cheesecake, not so much.
I had originally planned to make an oatmeal cookie crust, but when I went shopping for ingredients the day before Bake Day, all I could find were oatmeal-raisin cookies, so I opted for a chocolate wafer cookie crust.
One of the recipes I used as reference called for the beer to be opened and degassed, so I did that while making the crust. I needed only one cup, so Ryan and I shared the rest (for breakfast).
I was worried that adding an extra cup of liquid would mess with proportions, so I added 8 oz. additional cream cheese and one extra egg.
To create the marble effect, I melted 5 oz. dark chocolate…
…then added that to one cup of the vanilla-beer cheesecake batter and poured that over the unbaked cheesecake before marbling it with a knife.
The baking of the cheesecake was the next challenge. I went back and forth over baking methods, and finally ended up using a water bath. I wrapped the springform pan in two layers of foil, set it in a roasting pan, and filled it with boiling water. (One cool gadget Ryan does have is an electric kettle.) Into the oven it went. I set the timer for 45 minutes.
Ryan also has a nice pool table that occupies a prominent spot in his living room, so while we were waiting for it to bake, I took this photo for my Macro Monday Flickr group challenge, “color spot”.
The cheesecake browned pretty quickly, but it seemed to take forever for the edges to firm up, so I kept it in another 10 minutes before turning off the oven to let it set up.
For some reason the chocolate sank to just below the surface before I could marble it, so it wasn’t visible until I cut into it.
I have to say, it was a beautiful thing – aside from the fact it browned a little more than I would have liked, it was silky smooth. I didn’t think the stout taste was prominent enough, but it was described by others as having a caramel flavor. My first cheesecake, a success!
I had leftover batter, so I made a smaller cheesecake in a disposable pan that was recommended in the challenge recipe. Oddly enough, the chocolate didn’t sink, so I got a beautiful marbled top.
I'm very much looking forward to next month's challenge. Ryan's girlfriend was right -- "Cooking in Ryan's kitchen is like cooking at a campout". But it was fun, and I'd do it again. Thank you, Ryan, for putting up with my relentless teasing and occasional eye rolls.