Week 4 involves desserts. As if biscotti and cake weren’t enough of a sweet treat to end a meal, we’re now going full toothache here. We had a choice of 12 identical crème brûlées, technical challenge Spanische Windtorte or The Showstopper: a 3-tier cheesecake. We decided that a cheesecake was the most do-able. Also, because half of our bakers are off to Britain (jealous!) for real, it’s just Annemarie this week, baking away.
The bake: Cheesecake, any flavor variety, but it needs to be the baked not refrigerated kind. We’re adults here.
I went with the lovely Joy the Baker’s turn on cheesecake, one that felt fall and appropriate, and one that looked the easiest to execute: Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie. I was a bit concerned about the cheesecake plus a caramel topping being way too sweet, but we heard “gingersnap” crust and we had to try it. My food processor leaves something to be desired, as it struggled just to pulverize some thin cookies (insert eye roll here), but in the end, I had my cookie crumbs, mixed with a bit of brown sugar, melted butter and salt. The mix was pretty straightforward as cheesecakes go: softened cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lots of vanilla and heavy cream. I added in a tablespoon of ginger syrup, hoping to up the ante on the ginger.
I was a bit nervous about what a water bath might mean, but it using Joy’s method of placing the oven racks at even thirds and moving the bath down below, it was super easy and I didn’t end up with a crack! I thought for sure our arid climate would crack my cake no matter what, but I got some imperfection only in the last few minutes of the bake and only on the sides.
Like Week 1 with its caramelized walnuts, this too featured boiled sugar to create a caramel. This time, I knew what to expect and it was even easier. This one had corn syrup, butter and more cream to make a true caramel, not a candy, and the results were thick and flavorful, with an extra hit of salt added at the end.
This wasn’t the most photogenic dessert I’ve made — the first slice was cut before the thing had fully chilled completely, so yes, it fell apart. And the nature of a pressed cookie crust means that every subsequent cut makes a mess (draped in caramel sauce). Oh well. The taste was spot-on. I loved the caramel with the gingersnap crust, and while I’d probably try to use a bigger pan next time (I had some serious doming during the bake), I would definitely make this for a big family gathering where I would hopefully be left with no leftovers.
Join us next week, as we do WHATEVER WE WANT. It’ll be fall, it’ll be sweet, and it’ll be grand. Stay tuned!