I have been so desperately out of the loop in doing the things I enjoy since I've been pregnant, and it finally got to the point where I *had* to do something in the kitchen! If I don't do something creative in some part of my life, I start geting really ticked off, and between you and me, I was past that point.
So the other Saturday, Sweet Pea and I decided to conquer the Daring Bakers' challenge for April - cheesecake!
Melted butter and graham cracker crumbs for crust
Hubby had brought home a store-bought one a few weeks ago that was fine as those go, but we all know that ANYTHING homemade is better, right?! Well, excluding SIL's cooking, mind you. . .but that's probably blog material for another day.
We did a pretty much basic cheesecake, the equivalent of wading around in the shallow end of the pool, LOL, but I wasn't really in the mindset to do anything grandiose that day. I did add about a teaspoon of lemon zest to the batter, and for the liqueur flavoring I used Grand Marnier - Sweet Pea and I chose that over the Frangelico in a sniff test. I figured kids and preggos would be OK after it baked out, anyway and - responsible parent that I am - told her that she could not TASTE the G.M. because, like vanilla, it was yukky alone but made other things taste great! :>
Cream cheese + Sugar = Yum
One other sub I made outside of the DB recipe was putting in 3/4 c. whole milk instead of 1 c. heavy cream, which we didn't have in the house (Hubby will, on occasion, come home with whole milk for no apparent reason; I don't ask, I just let him do his thing).
Cream cheese mixture, adding eggs
Into the pan we go!
Bain-marie (yes, the foil leaked - Grrr)
After 55 minutes, the cake looked firm but really jiggly, as the recipe said it would. That kind of thing always makes me nervous, but I've done cheesecakes before and it's just a feeling I ignore. When making cheesecakes, one must rack that kind of thing up to faith and just believe that it's going to turn out the way it's supposed to. And it looked great after doing its obligatory time in the oven and then cooling to room temp.
I then had what one or two people in the free world might call a "meltdown". Sweet Pea dug a hole in the top with her little play spatula, and immediately thereafter the fast food drink that Hubby had put in the front of the refrigerator toppled out as I was trying to get something else in there, and emptied its contents all over the floor. Sigh.
Looks good even with the hole out of the middle, eh? I like the toasty brown parts. :)
Now, I actually wasn't worried about the top of the cheesecake, since I had candied some kumquat slices (recipe below) with which to adorn it - it was the fact that I had already instructed her about twenty times this morning to leave things alone until I told her specifically to do something. It was just the principle of it all. Ahhh, mother- and wife-hood!
Candied Kumquat Slices
16 kumquats, washed and sliced into rounds approx. 1/8" thick
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Heat water and sugar on medium to med-high, stirring a couple of times, until sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to boil. Add kumquat slices and reduce heat to med-low. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove individually, tapping/shaking liquid from pieces, and place in a single layer on a plate or piece of parchment paper. Allow to dry for a bit before decorating top of cake. Can sprinkle a small amount (1/4-1/2 c.) of sugar over them if desired.
Use the syrup (of which you will have a good bit) to glaze the cake, sweeten teas, etc. Will last in the fridge for a few weeks.
Anyway, the cake looked like we were really going to enjoy it after it chilled. I brushed a layer of the kumquat syrup over the top, made a sun design with the kumquats (it wasn't my initial intent; it just ended up turning into a sun), and brushed another layer of the syrup over them so that it would have a nice glaze.
Yeah, I know that I said I was feeling quite low-maintenance with this baking endeavour, but I remembered the kumquats and thought that'd be a really good compliment to the orange flavoring and lemon zest in the cake. And I mean, really - don't expect me to believe that you're surprised. Please.
The Results: Awesome! This is a delicious, creamy cheesecake and the recipe is soooo versatile that you can go in any direction you feel. The general consensus in our house was that it was a totally dee-vine dessert. The kumquats and cake were a really good balance. I also took some to work, and my friends thought it was totally awesome. Yeeesss! I'll need to remember to press out the crust better around the edges, as that part was a little too thick, but I will definitely make this again!