Yep…a cheesecake….If you are new to blogging or this whole food blogging thing you might be wondering why so many of us are baking and writing about cheesecakes this week. Why? We are answering “The Call” shouted by Peabody a few weeks back inviting to participate in “Hay Hay It’s Donna Day” #10, originally created by Barbara.
There are a few reasons why this one got named “Pillow Cheesecake”. It came from a conversation I had with B. one night, comfortably resting our heads on our mountain of pillows as we were contemplating going to sleep but found ourselves completly captivated by the subject of cheesecake. Why sleep when you can spend the next 45 minutes pondering a mighty important question: “what constitutes a great cheesecake?”
Disclaimer: the upcoming answers only apply to the author of this blog and her husband. Individual experiences may vary.
“It has to be fluffy…can’t be dense or a block…”
“gotta have some chocolate, somewhere…”
” and a hint of citrus…”
“pass me another salted caramel (brought back from Normandy)….”
“I think I just took the last one…”
“allright, then it has to have some salted butter caramel something somewhere somehow…”
…..and then we decided to go to sleep….Mom always told me never to go to bed angry, but she forgot to tell me about not going to bed hungry…we had cheesecake dreams the whole night!
Kidding aside, here were my directives for this cheesecake: chocolate, citrus, fluffy texture and salted butter caramel. How to put it all together without creating something utterly weird?
I opted to put the chocolate in the crust and settled on a recipe by Trish Deseine simply because I have been telling myself every single day that even though I have already made the same recipes at one point or another in my life, I have not made hers and maybe I should…and there it was, the perfect picture of a perfect chocolate shortbread cookie. I made the entire batch but only used half for the cheesecake bottom and froze the remaining for a later use.
For the batter, I have plenty a recipes on file in my memory bank from my days at the restaurant. For the citrus element, I grated a whole lemon and added the zest to the batter (no juice). Since i was not making a lemon cheesecake per se, I just wanted that extra bite in the background.
The secret to that “pillow” texture that B. was talking about (or was it me….can’t remember…I agreed anyway), I separated the egg yolks from the whites and whipped the latter to stiff peaks before incorporating them to the batter. I admit that my days were so full at the restaurant that I skipped this step 75 % of the time. The cakes were denser but still not brick, because I used less eggs and added a Tb of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of creme fraiche.
For the sauce, I perused a few of my favorite French blogs in search of the perfect salted butter caramel sauce and found one that I liked too much to change or alter. If you read French, head over Guillemette’s blog Chocolat & Caetera, you will not be disappointed but you are sure to get hungry!
Pillow Cheesecake with Salted Butter Caramel Sauce:
It is better to start the cake a day ahead of time, as it needs to refrigerate for a leat 6 hours.
Chocolate Shortbread Base, from Trish Deseine:
250 gr. butter, very cold, cubed small
85 gr. sugar
300 gr. flour
25 gr. cacao powder
Preheat the oven to 350.Work the butter, sugar, flour and cacao with a food processor or your fingers to get a sandy mixture. Work the dough for a minute. Divide the dough in half. Reserve one half to make shortbread cookie or refrigerate for another time.Press one half into the bottom of a 10 or 12 inch springform pan. Bake for 40 minutes.Let cool completely.
2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter (115 gr), softened
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1 cup sugar
2 Tb. cornstarch, sifted
zest of one lemon
Combine the cream cheese, butter, sugar, lemon zest, creme fraiche and cornstarch in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until combine. Do not incorporate too much air or the cake will crack. Make sure the cream cheese and butter are very soft. Add the egg yolks one at a time and whip just until combined.Whip the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold them in the cream cheese batter.
Pour the batter over the chocolate shortbread crust. The batter will reach the rim of the cake. Wrap your springform pan with heavy duty aluminium foil, set it in a large roasting pan, add enough hot water to come up halfway up the side of the pan. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the oven off, crack the door of the oven open and let your cake cool in there for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate completely for a few hours or better yet overnight.
Salted Butter Caramel Sauce, adapted from Guillemette:
240 gr. sugar
80 ml water
115 gr salted butter
150 ml heavy whipping cream
In a heavy saucepan set over low heat, combine the sugar and water and heat just until the sugar is dissolved. Add the butter. Let it come to a boil and cook until it reaches a golden caramel color. Remove from the heat and add the cream ( it will splatter and get crazy, but do not fear and trust the recipe). Whisk to combine and put back on the stove. Let it come to a boil again over low heat and cook 10-15 minutes until you reach a nice creamy consistency. Pour into a jar and try to refrain yourself from drinking it!
This one was a keeper. We had friends over that evening and we could not stop pigging out. The cake was so light it was a sin. The sauce was so incredible we are all guilty of gluttony….it is decadent over ice cream.