Ant's work is having a potluck style holiday office party this week, where each person was asked to sign up for which category they would be bringing something for (ie. appetizer, entree, desert, side). So what does that have to do with me? Well, I'm signed up to make a dessert for him to take of course. ; )
So what do you make to feed about 25 people that you don't know? My normal "go to" holiday dessert is truffles, but that just didn't seem substantial enough. Then I figured cookies would be good, but Ant let me know that someone already said they were bringing cookies (and he didn't know what kind). So I started thinking, "What do 90% of all people enjoy in a dessert?" (well duh. Chocolate!) and "What type of dessert do most people love, but only eat a small amount?"
So I goggled chocolate cheesecake, and gave Ant a list of the options he could pick from. (I am one of the random 2% of people who don't like cheesecake, so I didn't have much opinion.) He ended up choosing the Fudge Truffle Cheesecake recipe from Eagle Brand, and I gathered my ingredients. But even though I'm not going to eat it, doesn't mean I don't want it to be amazing, so I tried to change things up a little bit too. So when I came across a review that mentioned making the crust layer out of brownies, I decided to give it a try.
Instead of messing around with crumbled up cookies and sugar, I just baked a regular pan of brownies. Then while they were still warm (Be careful! They stay warm forever.) I scooped out the middle of the pan and pressed it into the bottom of my spring-form pan. The process was really sticky, but I wore a rubber glove and coated it with cooking spray to keep from making too much of a mess. Then when I had it the way I liked, I left the crust to cool completely. Later I came back and followed the regular directions to make the filling, put it in a water bath, and popped it in the oven. Pretty easy.
Maybe it's just me, but I still feel like it is missing something. Should I maybe drizzle chocolate across the top to make it prettier? Guess I'll let Ant decide when he gets home since it is "his" cake and all. Tomorrow is the big party though, so I'll let you know how they liked it once I get some feedback.
Tips for those who are not familiar with baking cheesecakes...
- Make sure you start with room temperature cream cheese. If it is too cool you will get lumps.
- Don't over mix the batter. It will give your cake air bubbles. (see the top of my cake)
- A water bath will help things cook more evenly, but be careful. Some pans let the water leak into the pan and give you a soggy crust.
- Don't think that wrapping the pan in foil with keep out the water!!
- I put a layer of freezer paper around my pan and then use the foil to hold that in place. The wax coating on the paper helps to stop any water that seeps into the foil.
- When you reach the end of the stated cooking time, the center of your cake WILL BE JIGGLY!
Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside with the door closed for about another hour. The residual heat will help the center set up, and keep your cake from cooling too fast and cracking.
- When the hour is up cooling in the oven, move the cake to the counter and let it cool some more!
- Once the pan is completely cool then you can finally put the cake in the oven.
- Run a knife around the crust BEFORE releasing the pan's spring so you don't pull off the crust.
- Try cutting your cake with dental floss. Push it down and then pull it across the bottom. Don't try to pull it back up. This helps make the cuts much cleaner than using a knife.
Happy Holiday Baking!