sweets

New York Cheesecake with Roasted Blueberry Sauce

Hello! I’m here to talk about cheesecake. Before this weekend, I’ll be honest, I had never made a cheesecake in my life. For some reason, I had it in my head that it would be so difficult and it kept me away for years. But then, after quite some begging from my sweet sister Clare (who’s favorite dessert is a good cheesecake), I obliged for her birthday weekend. I followed a recipe from my newly purchased “Vanilla Bean Baking Book” by Sarah Kieffer, and WOW how cute. There’s an entire page in the back for music to listen to while baking!! Anyway, I used her “Classic Cheesecake” recipe as my guide and got going. To my surprise, it was SO simple and SO rewarding. It bakes up smooth and creamy, with a crisp and buttery graham cracker crust, and it’s perfectly offset by the tart, citrusy blueberry sauce that I added. All in all, a perfect combination for a summery dessert, and I am quite pleased with myself.

I think we’re just about in summer now, and the idea of going to the farm and getting fresh corn and watermelon and greens is almost too much to bear. I feel some corn chowder in my future and I’ve never been more excited. But I’ve also hit a kind of inspirational roadblock, so if there’s anything that any of you feel like seeing, by all means, let me know!

But for now, I’ll keep it short and sweet, and let’s get to the baking!

Makes: 1 9″ cheesecake, serves 10-12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour- 1 hour 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 5 hours (for chilling)
Total Time: 6.5 hours

Cheesecake Ingredients:
adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

For the crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or 14 whole graham crackers, pulsed in the food processor)
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 tbs unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
2 lbs cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature


Cheesecake Steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 325ºF. If you’re using whole graham crackers, pulse the pieces in the food processor until they resemble fine crumbs. Add to a medium mixing bowl. If starting with pre-made crumbs, start now!

2. Whisk together the crumbs and the granulated sugar until combined. Drizzle in the melted butter and mix until all the crumbs are coated and pack together if you squeezed them. Pour into a 9″ springform pan and pack down the crust firmly using the bottom of a measuring cup or other flat utensil. I spread most of the crust on the bottom and some up the side of the pan, but if you like a thicker crust, feel free to put less on the sides. Bake the crust for 10 minutes until slightly crisped and golden.

3. Once the crust has cooled, wrap the sides of the pan with aluminum foil (shiny side facing out) to keep the sides of the cake from browning during baking.

4. Meanwhile, whip the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl 2 or 3 times during the process to make sure that everything is completely smooth.

5. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl down 2-3 times as well. Then, add in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt, and beat until incorporated. Drizzle in the melted butter on low speed.

6. With the mixer running on medium, add the eggs and the egg yolk one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. At this point, scrape down the bowl again to make sure that the bottom and sides are all evenly mixed.

7. Pour the filling over your cooled crust and smooth out the top if necessary. Tap the pan on the counter until all the air bubbles rise to the surface- it will take a few tries, there are a lot of bubbles!

8. To bake, place the tin foil wrapped pan in a large roasting tray. Create a water bath by pouring boiling water into the roasting tray so that it reaches about halfway up the springform pan. This will keep the cake moist and prevent any cracks during baking. *Tip- it’s easiest to place the roasting tray on the rack of the oven with the springform pan already in it, and pour the water in then, so that you’re not juggling a tray of boiling water and cheesecake batter into a hot oven!

9. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour without opening the door. After 1 hour is up, check the cake. If the outer 3 inches or so are set and the middle is still slightly jiggly, then you’re finished. If this is not the case, bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. At this point, turn the oven off and open the door just slightly, and allow the cake to cool here for 30 minutes.

10. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack. Run a thin knife around the outside of the cake to loosen it from the pan before cooling, then allow to cool completely. Once the cake is cooled, cover the top with a piece of parchment paper and chill in the fridge for 5-6 hours or overnight.

11. To remove, run your knife around the edges once more, then carefully remove the outside ring of the springform pan. Slice the cakes into desired sizes and top with a generous portion of the roasted blueberries (recipe immediately below). Yay!


Roasted Blueberry Sauce Ingredients:

2 cups blueberries
3 tbs granulated sugar
Zest of ½ lemon


Roasted Blueberry Sauce Steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Place the blueberries in a shallow roasting dish and sprinkle the sugar and lemon zest over the top. Mix to combine.

2. Roast the blueberries for 15 minutes until they are just beginning to burst. Stir the berries around 2-3 times during the roasting to make sure everything is cooking evenly.

3. Allow to cool slightly before serving. This would also be delicious on top of ice cream, pound cake, cocktails, you name it!

xoxoxoxoxoD

 

 

sweets

Tart Cherry Clafoutis

Alright folks, I’m here to talk to you about clafoutis. If you’re not familiar with what that is, it’s a type of baked French dessert with a thin, eggy batter that bakes into a custard-y cake studded with the fruit of your choice. This was my first attempt at clafoutis and let me tell you, I am a changed woman. The recipe I followed, which you can find here, used pitted sweet cherries, but because I had 2 jars of tart cherries I decided to try those out instead and let me tell you I was not disappointed. A generous sprinkling of sugar caramelizes into a crisp, top layer, while the vanilla-almond scented batter is perfectly offset by the slight sourness of the cherries.


It reminds me slightly of a more substantial Dutch Baby, and I am not joking when I say this was the easiest baking project I have ever undertaken. You have 50 minutes total? You can make this, and 45 of those minutes are spent baking anyway. It’s crucial that the batter is completely mixed without lumps, so the entire thing should be blended before baking, preferably with an immersion blender, but it can also be done in a regular blender as well, never fear!

I know this picture doesn’t do it justice, but i needed everyone to see how thin it baked up and the LAYER of custard it produces.

I think I’m finally off my rhubarb kick, so thank you all for sticking with me! I also realized that it’s been ages since I’ve posted a savory recipe and for that I apologize, I find myself cooking the same meals lately (I’ve been in a bit of a dinner rut), and branching out more into baked goods. The good news is that with the warm months comes fresh produce, so some new dishes will be coming soon, never fear! But until then, I really suggest that you bake this dish up at your earliest convenience, most fruits can be substituted for the tart cherries, and it becomes the easiest (but also still impressive) dessert.
Let’s get baking!

Makes: 10-12 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50-60 minutes

Ingredients
Adapted from “David Lebovit’s Cherry Clafoutis” on Food52
2¼ cups (1¼ lbs) pitted cherries, I used tart, but sweet will also do! (Can also be done with berries, pears, peaches, etc.)
3 eggs, room temperature
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
½ cup + 3 tbsp white sugar, divided- ½ cup is in the batter, remaining tablespoons go on top for baking
1 1/3 cups milk
Softened salted butter, for greasing the dish

Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF and generously grease a 2 quart baking dish (mine was roughly 9″x13″). When I say generously I really do mean it, I thought I had done enough and there was still some sticking in the corners.

2. If your cherries are fresh, wash and pit them, or if they are jarred in juice, drain. Spread the pitted cherries on the bottom of the dish evenly, but don’t obsess over it because they will shift when the batter is poured in.

As a side-note, look at this fun summer tablecloth!!!!

3. In a large mixing bowl, add eggs, flour, vanilla and almond extracts, white sugar, and milk. Using the aforementioned immersion blender (or regular blender), blend this batter thoroughly until smooth, so that all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

4. Pour the batter over the cherries and sprinkle the top with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar.

5. Bake for 45 minutes until the top is brown and crisp, and a knife comes out ~mostly~ clean.

This can be served warm, room temperature, or cold, with ice cream, whipped cream, but it’s also perfect on its own!
xoxoxoxoD

 

 

sweets

Fresh Fruit Tart

So ever since we’ve had a minimum of one nice day a week, I have convinced myself that the warm weather is here to stay, and with that comes an overpowering desire to bake with summer fruits, you know? I’ve been waiting for the rhubarb to arrive at the farm since practically last spring, but thanks to the stubborn cold weather, it won’t be for sale for around another month. A MONTH. I am devastated, as you can imagine, so to try and fill the void left in its wake, I made this tried-and-true fruit tart last weekend and I am happy to say that there was not a crumb left after dessert.

It begins with a buttery tart shell with just a hint of sweetness, topped with vanilla pastry cream that is literally so good that I ate the leftovers out of the bowl with a spoon, and an artfully disheveled pile of fresh fruit on top. The best part about this is that you can really use whatever fruits you feel like based on what’s in season- blueberries and blackberries alone would make a gorgeous and dramatic looking tart, pitted cherries or mango or some stewed rhubarb- it’s totally up to you what fruits should be featured. For this one, I settled on what I could find at the store because it’s technically not berry season, so I was going to take what I could get, but I would love to hear your flavor ideas as well!

I’m posting this on a Saturday because this week just got away from me, but hopefully this will give you an excuse to try your hand at this tart right away. As for me, I will be looking for any excuse to use a blowtorch so I think I’m seeing a meringue pie in my future. Happy Saturday!

Tart Shell Ingredients
from 
The Fearless Baker, by Erin McDowell

2 cups All Purpose Flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons salted butter, very cold and cut into cubes
¼ cup ice water

Pastry Cream Ingredients
from 
The Fearless Baker, by Erin McDowell

3 cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup granulated sugar (divided into ¼ cup for milk mixture and ½ cup for egg yolk mixture)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract), or ½ vanilla bean (seeds and pod)
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Plus assorted fruit and berries, to top

Steps

1. Using a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is coarse and the butter is in small, pea-sized pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt, and then cut in the butter with a pastry blender or mix with your hands until the butter is incorporated in the same way.

2. Move the mixer from the food processor to a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the ice water into the middle and knead with your hands until the dough comes together and looks smooth. At this point, it should not be overly sticky or too wet. Wrap this dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

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All ready to roll!

While the dough is chilling, start your pastry cream here.

3. Combine milk, salt, and ¼ cup of the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the vanilla (extract or paste), or add the seeds and the pod of the vanilla bean to the mixture. Heat to a simmer over medium heat- do not let it boil!

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Confession: I forgot to capture the pastry cream I was making this time, but this is what the beginnings will look like!

4. Meanwhile, in a glass bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cornstarch so that they are evenly mixed without lumps. Whisk the egg yolks into this bowl until all is incorporated.

5. When the milk is simmering, remove the vanilla bean there is one and turn the heat to medium-low. Slowly, and whisking constantly to prevent scrambled eggs, add a little of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture to temper. Then, pour the bowl of egg mixture back into the pot with the rest of the milk and return the pot to the stove, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula until the mixture is thick and just about to bubble, about 5 minutes.

6. Remove from the heat, and stir in the butter until incorporated. Chill in the fridge until cold and set, pressing plastic wrap directly to the surface to prevent a skin forming.

Back to the tart dough!

7. Let your dough rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes so that it rolls out easily. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough into one large circle, about 2 inches wider than your desired pan on all sides. Make sure to check periodically to make sure that the dough isn’t sticking to your work surface, and re-flour as necessary.

8. Very carefully roll the finished dough over the rolling pin, and then drape into your tart pan, pressing it into place and allowing the extra dough to hang over the side. If you’re using a metal fluted pan (like I am), you can roll your rolling pin over the top of the pan, and the excess dough will be cut off, leaving you with a perfectly neat tart.

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Look at those perfect edges!

9. To blind bake this crust (bake without a filling in it), cut a square of parchment paper slightly larger than the pan size and place it in the pan on top of the crust. Fill this with dried beans, rice, or pie weights and bake like this for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust starts to turn golden.

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Ready for blind baking!

10. Remove the parchment paper and weights from the shell and return the tart to the oven, baking for another 10 minutes until it’s evenly golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately brush with 1 egg white- the heat of the shell will cook the egg white and seal the tart to prevent a dreaded soggy crust. Let it cool completely before removing from the pan.

11. When the shell has completely cooled, fill with the chilled pastry cream, and top with your desired choice of berries and other fruits. Now, eat the whole thing in one sitting and never look back.

xoxoxoxoxoxD