Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Strawberry Cheesecake With A White Chocolate Drizzle

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Cheesecakes, besides being decadent and delicious, I believe are one of the most popular dessert item found on restaurant menus. Whenever I’m making a cheesecake, I think about the three things. First the crust, then the filling, and finally the topping. Of course, the traditional is only comprised of two of these, the crust and the cheese filling. Let’s face it, cheesecake lovers are always trying to invent new ways of sprucing up the traditional with fruit, chocolate, and even making a savory one. What I really want to talk about first is the batter. The body of the dessert. My personal preference is, to prevent the eggs from curdling or the cheesecake from cracking. I like to use a water bath, a gentle heat, for the baking process. When using corn starch and flour, in the batter, the starch will prevent the eggs from curdling. I’ve also have found after the cheesecake has baked for an hour, leave the cheesecake, in the water bath, in the oven,  with the heat off, and oven door cracked open, for another hour.  This will ensure that you won’t have a cheesecake with those little annoying cracks in the top. The residual heat, in the walls and left in the water bath, will radiate enough heat to complete the baking process. It’s a personal preference that I choose to use a little flour in the batter. I like the creamy, silky yet firm texture to the finished dessert. Now if I were making a savory version, then I would incorporate flour and corn starch in the  batter, because I would want a slightly firmer texture. No matter savory or sweet, the gentle heat of a water bath is always the method I use. First, I start with the strawberry filling.

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I start with fresh strawberries that I’ve hulled and halved.  Add to a food processor. I then add in a small amount of corn starch and pulse the strawberries until they were completely pureed. Next, pour the pureed strawberry mixture into a small sauce pan. On med high heat, add fresh lemon juice, granulated sugar, and strawberry preserves. Bring this up to a boil, constantly stirring, I cooked the mixture until shiny and thick. This takes about 5 minutes or so. You’ll see that the sauce has thickened when you run your finger down the back of a spoon and it stays separated.  Remove the sauce from the heat, place into a bowl, then into the frig, allowing the sauce to chill.

Now the crust.

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I have lined my spring form pan with foil to make sure no water gets into the cheesecake while it’s baking. I tell you about that later. I combined two types of graham crackers for my crust. Honey and cinnamon sugar grahams. In a food processor with the metal blade, I process to grahams until they are in the form of crumbs. I add them to a bowl with sugar and melted butter. I stirred that all together until the grahams looks like wet sand. In a 9 inch spring form pan, I press all the crumbs onto the bottom of the pan. Next, I refrigerate the crumbs for a least 30 minutes. This gives me time to work on the cheese filling.

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In my stand mixer, with the paddle attachment,  I add room temperature cream cheese and Mascarpone cheese.  I beat that until light and fluffy. Once that’s light and fluffy, I turn the speed down to low and I add in, lemon zest, sour cream, pure vanilla extract, the caviar of a vanilla bean. To that, I gradually add in sweetened condensed milk.. In a small bowl I have three large eggs that I’ve cracked open. Still on low speed,  I add the eggs, one at a time, to the other ingredients, until just combined. Turn the mixer off.

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I take the  chilled crust and strawberry filling out of the frig. I pour half of the cheese filling into the pan. Using a regular tablespoon, filled with the strawberry filling, I spoon on dollops of the strawberry filling onto the first half of the batter. Then I pour the rest of the cheese batter carefully over that. Next, I repeat placing dollops of strawberry filling on the top of that layer of cheese filling. I have a long skewer. that I take the pointy end, and very carefully not to go through to the second layer of filling, I just swirl the strawberry filling around in a swirly design. Like you see in the picture above. I have on the stove top a tea kettle filled with hot water. I also have a large roasting pan, one big enough to hold the spring form pan in, I set the unbaked cheesecake into the roasting pan. Remember the foil I spoke of, well this is why you need to wrap the pan with foil. I’m filling the roasting pan with the hot water so it comes up 1/4 way up the pan. A few inches is just fine. This helps the cheesecake to bake evenly and gently. Bake at 300 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until the center is almost set. Next, I turn the heat off in the oven. I leave the cheesecake in the roasting pan, still filled with water, but I crack the oven door so it’s open slightly. I let the cheesecake sit in the oven for another hour. Finally I pull it out, take the pan out of the water. I let it cool out of the water for another 1/2 hour, then I remove the foil. I take a sharp thin knife and run it around the outside of the cake, just to loosen it a little from the sides of the pan. I place the cheesecake still in the pan, into the frig overnight. The next day, whenever you’re ready to serve, remove the spring form attachment and place the cheesecake, carefully onto a serving platter. I bought 1 bar of bakers white chocolate that you break up into pieces. Place the chocolate into a microwave safe bowl. You want to microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals stirring it between each 30 seconds until the chocolate is just melted. I take a fork, dip it into the melted chocolate and shake the fork all over the top and sides of the cold cheesecake. The chocolate will harden pretty fast because the cheesecake has just come out of the frig. I use a very large and fat spatula that I slide carefully under the crust for transferring the cheesecake. You could also just leave it on the bottom of the spring form pan and serve from there.

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Yields: 8-10 slices
Equipment: 9 inch spring form pan, roasting pan, food processor, and electric mixer
Bake: 300 degrees F.
Active Baking Time: 50-60 minutes
Inactive Baking Time: 60 minutes
Inactive Prep Time For Crust: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time For strawberry filling 30 minutes
Prep Time: 1 hour
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature

Crust Ingredients:
1 sleeve each of honey graham crackers and cinnamon graham crackers
1-1/2 tightly packed cracker crumbs
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
3/4’s stick of unsalted melted butter

Strawberry Filling Ingredients:
2 pints of hauled and cut fresh strawberries
2 heaping tablespoons of corn starch
1/4 cup of strawberry preserves
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

Cheesecake Filling Ingredients:
3-8 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup  Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup of sour cream, room temperature
1-14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
1 seeded vanilla bean
3 large eggs, room temperature

Ingredients For White Chocolate Drizzle
1 bar of Baker’s white chocolate

Preheat oven 300 degrees F.
First start with preparing the 9 inch spring- form pan. Next, process the strawberries with corn starch. Place into a sauce pan on med high heat. Add in the sugar, strawberry preserves,and lemon juice. Once the filling has thickened, about 5 minutes, remove the strawberry filling from the heat, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate. Next, process the two style of graham crackers. Stir the cracker crumbs and sugar together. To that add in the melted butter. The crumbs should look like wet sand.  Press the crumbs into the bottom of the spring form pan. Once in the pan, refrigerate that as well. Both need to be in the frig for at least 30 minutes.

The last component is to make the cheese filling. In an electric or stand mixer, add in the softened cream cheese, Mascarpone cheese and flour, beat until light and fluffy. Next, add in lemon zest, sour cream, vanilla extract, and the caviar of the vanilla bean. With the mixer on low. add in the sweeten condensed milk gradually. Finally, add in the room temperature eggs one at a time until just combined. Turn the mixer off.

Take the crust and strawberry filling out of the frig. Pour half the batter into the pan. Spoon dollops of strawberry filling onto the batter. Then pour the other half of the batter carefully on top, not to disturb the strawberry dollops. Then repeat the spoonfuls of strawberry filling in the top half. Using the pointy end of a skewer, make swirly designs making sure not to go through to the bottom layer. Just draw the swirls really lightly on the top.

Set the filled spring form pan into a large roasting pan. Have the hot water ready to add in so it comes up about a 1/4 of the way up the pan.  A good tip is, to set the roasting pan with the cheesecake in the pan, and in the oven first, before adding in the hot water.

Bake for 50-60 minutes then turn the oven off leaving the pan in the oven with the door ajar for another hour. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let sit out until room temperature. Remove the foil from around the pan and refrigerate over night. The next day, melt the chocolate in the microwave as explained on the back of the package. Remove the spring form pan from around the cheesecake. Drizzle the melted white chocolate over the cake and down the sides with a fork. The cold cheesecake will harden the chocolate pretty fast. I like to place my cheesecake in the freezer for around 2 hours. This hardens the cheesecake and will help with even slices for serving. Once you’ve sliced the amount you are going to serve, let sit a room temperature for 10-15 minutes.

Tip For Slicing Cheesecake:
To slice the cheesecake, take a sharp knife, dip into very hot water, before slicing each piece.

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Pumpkin And Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast

Pumpkin Cheese Cake Stuffed French Toast

Sorry that it took me so long to get back here to finish up this recipe.  There’s just so much to do before Melissa gets here in the morning.

It’s my favorite time of year, Fall, so I’m making a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast for brunch today.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: around 4 minutes per side per french toast (all at the same time about 8 minutes)
Total Time: 48-50 minutes
Yields: 4 stuffed french toast sandwiches
Equipment: griddle pan or 12-inch sautépan, 2 mixing bowls, 1 small mixing bowl, 1 rimmed baking sheet pan

Pumpkin Spice Blend:
1/3 cup ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
Tip: Store spice blend in an airtight container in a cool dry place for future use.

*Compound Butter:
1/2 stick unsalted butter room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Ingredients For Custard:
1 loaf of Brioche, 1 1/2-inch slice, yields 8 slices
6 large eggs, (cage-free)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ingredients For Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling:
1 8-ounce bar cream cheese, room temperature (substitute Mascarpone cheese)
1 15-ounce can of pure pumpkin purée
1 heaping tablespoon of pumpkin spice
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon of butter per French toast.
powdered sugar for garnish
candied pecans for garnish

Start by making the custard. In a large mixing bowl, break the eggs, add heavy cream, ground cinnamon, pure vanilla extract, whisk until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer bowl into the refrigerator.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl add room temperature cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, whisk to combine. To the cream cheese mixture, add canned pumpkin purée, pumpkin spice blend, mix until completely combined.

Lay on a flat surface, 4 slices of the Brioche. Spread the filling evenly and equally over each slice. Place the tops on the bread. Place the 4 stuffed French toast sandwiches onto a baking sheet. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (to stay fresh) and transfer to the frig.

For the *compound butter, add softened butter to a small bowl. Add ground cinnamon, granulated sugar, mix to combine. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the butter onto a piece of plastic wrap. Roll the butter up tightly and twist the ends as seen above. The other option is to leave the butter in the bowl and use a scooping method instead.

Note: Everything above can be done in advance.

Preheat griddle pan or large sautépan on medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter per french toast.

Working in batches, dip each stuffed french toast into the custard batter. Let each side soak for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the soaked french toast to the sizzling butter in the pan/griddle. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.

Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, a scoop of cinnamon sugar butter, and candied pecans.

*Compound Butter is made by whipping butter together with additional elements, such as herbs, spices or aromatic liquids. The butter is usually reformed, usually in plastic wrap, parchment paper,  or a small bowl. Chill until firm enough to be sliced or if in a bowl by using a small scoop.

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