April 27, 2009

Say Cheeeeeeesecake, Please…. – Chocolate And Vanilla Zebra-Stripe Cheesecake and Cardamom Flavoured Rose Cheesecake Bars (both eggless): Cheesecake Daring Bakers Challenge – April 2009


Statutory Warning: The contents of this post may cause extreme taste sensations and possibly result in weight gain! Proceed at your own risk. Also be warned that this is a rather long post and you may be tempted to dose off before you reach the end!!

I have been promising to make cheesecake for my daughter for the past month or so, but just never managed to get around to it. So guess who was the happiest when this month's Daring baker challenge turned out to be cheesecake? As Akshaya remarked, " If the DB challenge wasn't cheesecake, who knows how much longer I would have had to wait for cheesecake!"

Yes, the April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
We had to use the provided recipe but were free to experiment with the crust, flavours for our cheesecakes, shapes and serving sizes and presentation. That's a lot of leeway for individual creativity.




I have made cheesecake before, but they have been the no-bake kind which isn't too difficult to make especially in an eggless version. This challenge required us to make a baked version which I had never done before. Now baked cheesecakes basically have a custard sort of filling, where the eggs are required as binders so I wasn't sure I would be able to find a recipe that wasn't vegan (I don't get most vegan alternatives where I live) yet didn't use eggs.

A detailed internet search threw up this "Eggless Cheesecake" recipe from I Cannot Believe It Has No Eggs Cheesecake from Bakin' Without Eggs by Rosemarie Emro (St. Martin's Press, 1999). I adapted this recipe to suit my requirements and made Cardamom Flavoured Rose Cheesecake Bars. I thought it would be unusual to use these very Indian flavours to make a non-Indian dessert.



My Baked Cheesecake Making Experience:


We don't get creamcheese here in India (as far as I know), so what I always use to make my cheesecakes is home-made paneer, a soft Indian fresh cheese made from cow's milk. My recipes for making paneer and the cheesecake bars follow.

Making Paneer:


Ingredients:

2 L milk (4.5% fat)

4 tbsp plain vinegar



Method:


In a thick bottomed vessel, over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil. Add the vinegar and keep stirring the mixture. The milk will curdle and the milk solids will separate and float to the top in a thick cheesy layer. Keep stirring till all the solids have separated and only a cloudy whey is left below.

Place a largish piece of cheesecloth (or similar cloth) in a colander/ sieve and pour the curdled mixture into it. When the whey has drained out, rinse the paneer (cheese) with water a couple of times and allow the water to drain out completely. Now gather the sides of the cloth together and twist the top and squeeze out as much water as you can from the paneer. Keep this as it is in the colander for about an hour.



Lemon juice or yogurt can also be used for curdling the milk to make paneer.


Eggless Cardamom Flavoured Rose Cheesecake Bars:



Ingredients:


For the crust:


100gm digestive biscuits, finely crushed

1/4 cup powdered almonds

50gm butter

1 tbsp sugar


For the filling:


1 1/2 cups paneer

3 tbsp crumbled firm tofu

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup caster sugar

1/8 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 cup cornstarch

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup plain yogurt

1 tsp powdered cardamom

2 tsp rose syrup

1 to 2 drops red food colouring



Method:


Melt the butter over low heat. Cool slightly, add the rest of the ingredients for the crust and mix well. I used a 8" by 8" square glass pie dish to make these bars.
Grease a square piece of aluminium foil that will sit well in your pie dish. Carefully press the crumb mixture well, into the bottom of the pie dish.

Now make the filling.
Purée the paneer and the crumbled tofu with 1 tbsp of water till smooth. Put this into a bowl along with the condensed milk, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, corn starch, lemon juice and vanilla. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat this till smooth. Then add the yogurt and powdered cardamom and blend well.

Divide the mixture into two portions. To one portion, add the rose syrup and food colouring and blend well. Now pour the rose cheesecake mixture into the other (white) portion and just fold in a couple of times so the mixture has a marbled appearance.

Pour this into the prepared crust and gently smoothen the top.
Bake the cheesecake (without a water bath) for about an hour at 150C. The cheesecake will look set with a slightly creamy centre. Cool completely at room temperature and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Then take the cheesecake out and slowly lift it out from the dish along with the foil. Peel off the foil and cut into 12 pieces/ bars. Serve chilled.


Chocolate And Vanilla Zebra-Stripe Cheesecake:


This month has been a bit busy and I haven't really had too much time to spend experimenting in the kitchen. However, the success of my first baked cheesecake made feel a bit adventurous and I decided to bake another cheesecake (2 days ago) using the given recipe substituting only for the eggs.
This recipe and the accompanying picture made me decide to attempt making a Zebra-Stripe cheesecake.




I remember noting down sometime back (from somewhere on the net) that pureed tofu and cornstarch could be used as a good vegan substitute for eggs while making custard or custard-like preparations. According to my notes, 3tbsp puréed tofu + 2tsp corn starch = 1 egg, and I decided to make an eggless cheesecake while substituting for only 2 eggs with 6 tbsp of puréed tofu + 4 tsp cornstarch.

I used Nice biscuits instead of Graham crackers. Nice biscuits (In India, biscuits are what the U.S. calls cookies) are sugar sprinkled thin coconut cookies and since they're sweet I left out the sugar in the crust.

I used home-made paneer here too, but made from 3L of milk (4.5% fat). I don't get heavy cream here so I used 25% fat cream and increased the lemon juice to 2 tbsp as "paneer" is bland. I didn't use any liquor. I also used 1 cup milk chocolate pieces to make the chocolate layers.
Here is the given recipe, with my adaptation in brackets and highlighted in brown.


Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:


Ingredients:

Crust:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (173 gm Nice biscuit crumbs)

1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted

2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar (I omitted this)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

(I also used 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips)


Cheesecake:

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature

(3 cups pureed home-made paneer made from 3L 4.5% fat)

1 cup / 210 g sugar

3 large eggs (substituted with 6 tbsp of puréed tofu + 4 tsp cornstarch)

1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream (I used 25% fat cream)

1 tbsp. lemon juice (I used 2 tbsp)

1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)

1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake (omitted this)

(I also used 1 cup milk chocolate pieces)


Directions:

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. (My cake tin has a removable bottom so I lined my cake tin with greased aluminium foil before layering the crust.)

3. Combine cream cheese (I used puréed paneer) 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 (I substituted puréed tofu and cornstarch) , 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.

(At this point I divided the filling into two portions. I melted the chocolate over hot water and added it to one portion and blended it well. Then I poured half of the plain (white) filling into the prepared crust and spread it to cover the bottom. Then I poured half the chocolate filling in the middle spreading it, leaving an outer 1/4" of white filling. Then I poured the remaining white filling, again leaving 1/4" of the chocolate filling and finished with the chocolate filling, once again leaving a 1/4 " of the white filling showing. Check the original cheesecake for a better idea.)
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.
(I wrapped the bottom and sides of my cake tin with a single sheet of aluminium foil before placing it in the water bath. I had no problems of water getting to my cheesecake and my cheesecake stayed dry.)

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!


Verdict:

We liked the way the eggless cardamom flavoured cheesecake bars turned out, though our daughter didn't find the flavour of rose to her liking. The texture was quite nice and the bars freeze very well.

The zebra-stripe cheesecake was a hit with all of us, even though my zebra-striping effort wasn't quite successful (but I do like the way my cheesecake looks). The crust of the cheesecake was just right with the mini chocolate chips and a hint of coconut from the biscuits/ cookies.

I used milk chocolate because I made this cheesecake especially for my daughter, but I feel that semi-sweet chocolate would have been better giving the cheesecake a more intense chocolate flavour.
This cheesecake was very soft and creamy and I find it incredible that I got this texture without using eggs. This is most definitely going to be my recipe of choice every time I make a baked cheesecake.
And now please do take some time to take a look at the small, big, sweet and savoury cheesecakes in the Daring Baker kingdom.

Also featured at Chefs.com


53 comments:

MeetaK said...

a lovely creation aparna! you've made this a grand looking challenge!

Ramya Vijaykumar said...

My first visit here, I love your work and came thru your event hosted... Nice place here... I love the cheesecake its absolutely tempting and looks divine...

myspicykitchen said...

looks delicious...

jayasree said...

Looks delicious... Liked both ur versions. Both have come out well. Thanks for an eggless version.

Jo said...

Great job on your challenge and the cheesecake looks absolutely delicious.

Nandini Vishwanath said...

I came here as soon as A saw this and pinged this to me!!

It looks brilliant. Very strange but A and I were discussing what we'd do for a cheesecake challenge like this, and he said: he will try a zebra cheesecake.

Yay, great minds think alike eh? ;) Its GORGEOUS!

Parita said...

Loved both the versions of cheesecake..they look mouth watering

Yasmeen said...

Perfect slices aparna,the zebra stripes look awesome.Amazing how tofu works out splendidly in this recipe:)

Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar said...

They're both beautiful, Aparna. I've been sighing longingly over the rose cheesecake bars since you posted a picture a few weeks ago, but I am the only person I know who likes rosewater as a flavouring, so I won't be making them anytime soon until I buy a mini-cheesecake pan.

I'm glad your daughter finally got her cheesecake!

Sara said...

Yum! The zebra striped one is so adorable, and the pink color of the rose cheesecake bars is fantastic. :)

Lisa Michelle said...

OH wow, Aparna, they both look amazing, especially the rose-cardamom. It looks like a little slice of a pink jewel! Once again, perfection!

anna said...

OMG rose cheesecake bars! Heaven!

rekhas kitchen said...

OMG!great job realy droolingover it love that first one mmmmmmm mouthwatering cheesecake and egg less so so tempting

Suparna said...

Hi Aparna,
TRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRING! THE ALARM SCreamed reading the statutory warning and at the first glance of the zerbra thingie;) coz am trying to keep off fatty things n sweets for a few days. god! u have brought down heaven on to the taste buds.looking at the rose flavoured cheese bars I was just drooling. I am leaving for now will come back to droll more and read the post again ....lol
Fantabulous post dear! hope ur daughter freaked out on these :)
TC

Asha said...

YUM! I love Strawberry cheese cake, chocolate one would suit my kids, Looks delicious! :)

Vanamala said...

wow looks beautiful recipe...lovely pics

Ashwini said...

Wow so yummylicious and very tempting. Loved that zebra stipes.

Priya said...

Wow both cheesecakes looks amazing, thats a great work Aparna, lovely also they are eggless, enjoyed the virutal clicks!

Suzana said...

I'm stunned, Aparna. Despite the initial warning, I can't stop staring at those delicious cheesecakes! It was indeed a nice challenge and you did great. Well done!

Medhaa said...

both the cheese cakes look delicious love the idea of rose and cardamom.

Namratha said...

Wow Aparna, you've taken cheesecake to a whole new level! Lovely creations. :)

Indhu said...

droolicious cheesecake... love the zebra stripes :)

Pearlsofeast said...

Excellent Aparna. This is a keepsake recipe. I love the stripes and keep the good work.

ice tea: sugar high said...

love love love your zebra stripes.. the rose cheesecake bar sounds delish too! Well done

Jude said...

Pretty cool how you got those stripes within the cheesecake. Looks impressive.

Pavani said...

Great Job Aparna. Both the cheesecake and the bars look delicious.

Soma said...

What a stunning job u have done! I do not like cheesecake, but this looks extremely irrestible... both are really really pretty.

Red Chillies said...

Great job, Aparna. Hats off to oyu. AS you said just looking at the cakes is causing me weight gain :-) not that I need a reason.

Rachel said...

*Clap Clap* Wonderfully done challenge!

Prathibha said...

I am just flying now to Goa to have this gorgeous looking cheesecake(hope so i would get a small bite if its still left..he he)
Lovely cake...liked the marble effect..

Maya said...

Wow, now I understand ur warning! What a superb looking piece that is !

Lauren said...

Mmm, your cheesecakes look soooo amazingly good!! Beautiful job on this challenge =D.

Bharti said...

I like both of them, lovely.

Chantal said...

Hi Aparna! Beautiful as usual...your statutary warning, lol.

Dharm said...

I love what you did with this challenge! Both cakes look just lovely...

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

YAY for you Aparna...not one but 2. Am sure your daughter was over the moon with them!Love the Zebra effect. Really perfect!

Arundathi said...

Fantastic! Taking the zebra cake to new heights!

Madhumathi said...

Wow..your cheesecake made me drool..the zebra stripes are lovely!

Pavithra said...

Its adorable ...OMG mouth watering

singinghorse said...

Thank you for the warning but I can't help but look on... Indeed I gasped. Boy, I'm so hungry now! Your cheesecakes are exquisite!

Jenny said...

I have been looking forward to your post to learn how you made your own cheese AND went eggless. I have learned so much! I'm glad for your daughter's sake that we went with cheesecake this time. Hehe.

Jenny from JennyBakes

Raaga said...

OK... add to my list please... so you're back? I can send you my parcel then

Konkani Foodie said...

That cheesecake looks just delicious. This is the first time I visit your site and I must say, you have a great website. I will surely try my hand at baking. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

Ivy said...

Wow Aparna. I can never say no to a cheesecake but yours looks absolutely beautiful. You did a great job.

Audax said...

I just love the pink one and the very very exotic flavour combinations. Cardamom Flavoured Rose Cheesecake Bars sounds so unusual and very enticing to my mind even if in Finland we use a lot of cardamom. Beautiful pixs, thanks for the nice comments in the DBers forums. Yours from Audax in Australia

Curry Leaf said...

I truly wish I could see you work Aparna or atleast some of the baking wisdom touches me as well.You r truly great.Both cakes are looking EXCELLENT and PERFECT.I wish I could use anyother superlative terms to describe this.With each DB Challenge,it seems you r bettering yourself.

Sandeepa said...

Wow Aparna you are a genius. First, the cheesecakes look glorious and secondly I am amazed at all the alternatives you came up with given you are vegan and limited availability of ingreds.
Beautiful creations

shellyfish said...

I'm so glad the Daring Bakers helped your daughter get her cheese cake! Both versions look just delicious. I would have loved that rose cardamom, but when I was younger I didn't like rose - like your daughter.

Allergy Mom said...

The marbling is just beautiful! I'm so impressed that you made your own cheese, too!

Cakelaw said...

Two beautiful cheesecakes Aparna. I can't pick a favourite - I like them both. I also love that you can make your own cheese!!

Madam Chow said...

Aparna, I think both of them look beautiful, including the zebra striped one!

Aparna said...

Thank you all, for coming over to see my cheesecake and cheer me on.
THis is one of the perks of being a Daring Baker, for sure. :)

Anita said...

Playing cathup with all my fave blogs... and you are about to send me back for cheesecake! That rose flavoured one will be perfect for this stifling heat! All of yours turned out so beautiful! I have been meaning to try with paneer...