Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Chile Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

This cheesecake is inspired by a pot de crème served at my favorite Mexican restaurant, El Camino.

El Camino is in Brunswick just off Main Street. Every time I go I imagine a scene in a horror flick of a serial killer in the desert. He has 4 chopped up cow girls in the trunk of his old Buick. It’s sweltering hot and the sun is pounding down on the dry Earth. He drives to this little Mexican place where the people are kind and they play old country music. (I’m talking older than Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.) It’s decorated in bright colors and velvet paintings of cowboys and Indians. I envision the killer sitting at the bar ready to be refreshed by a hand shaken margarita, never letting on that he has decaying bodies in his vehicle.

Now about that pot de crème; it is chocolately and spicy. Topped with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce made from local goat’s milk. The first time I tried it I worked hard to taste each piece of the dessert. There was spice coming from somewhere unexpected. Finely ground ancho chile on the top of it all. Yes, it’s in the pot de crème itself but the bit on the top really threw me for a loop. I love the combination of the spice with the sweet. The lightness of the whipped cream and dense chocolate flavor with the sweet caramel drizzle. Absolutely amazing.

I brought this cheesecake to an Asian inspired dinner at the home of my favorite Jewish friend. We all enjoyed it and you don’t get the heat of the pepper until after you swallow that first bite. I didn’t plan properly and make the cheesecake the day before; it should definitely sit for a day before serving. It was so much better for breakfast that next morning!

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake
Source: Abbey (of course)
Yield: One 8 inch cheesecake

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter melted
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 blocks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

To make it chocolate chile I added 1/2-1 t. ceyanne pepper, 8 oz. melted bittersweet chocolate, 1 t. cinnamon.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.
Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!


Angela Bolduc said...

This sounds sooooo good! I'm going to have to try it sometime!

Jenny said...

This sounds so delicious. I just love spicy with chocolate. Thanks for being a part of the challenge. It is taking me a while to get to everyone, but I'm glad you were a part of it.

Jenny of JennyBakes