I made a cheesecake a couple weeks ago. Now, I make cheesecakes on a semi-regular basis, and they always taste wonderful.
But they don’t look wonderful. I realize that for most people, taste is what’s important, and I agree… but how my baked pretties look is also VERY important to me. It just is. And when I bake my cheesecakes, they always end up with a caramel-colored top. It would be fine if I covered them with a fruit topping or such, but I really prefer my cheesecake traditional (plain), and it’s then hard to look at that darker color.
When I go to a restaurant and order cheesecake, it always comes out perfectly light and beautiful – not a hint of brown anywhere. That’s what I am aiming for with my own cheesecakes, so I decided to try a different technique in baking my last one.
I researched for over an hour before finally deciding on this website’s instructions. The page had numerous positive comments, and the instructions did make sense in my mind. I wasn’t terribly fond of the “spotty” outer rim look on the final product, but it would still have been loads better than my own solid, caramel-color top. I went for it.
Within 8 minutes at the recommended 500°, the top of my cheesecake was INCINERATED. I turned it down 2 minutes early, and I opened the oven several times while baking to cool down the temperature during the rest of the time. Even so, the cheesecake was darn near BLACK by the time the center was mostly-set. Not only that, but it FELL, causing a deep, deep “well” in the center, rather than a smooth, even top. And later, when I took off the springform ring, I found the bottom graham cracker crust to be completely SCORCHED.
I wanted to cry. I mean, my cheesecakes were fine, if not the prettiest. Tasty, if not tantalizing. I had spent over an hour studying how to make them BETTER, and instead I had ended up with the world’s UGLIEST CHEESECAKE EVER.
I was so frustrated. I cut the cake into pieces, and I tossed it into the freezer, vowing to “deal with it” later.
(Philip was dubious, I should add.)
Two days ago, I pulled the pieces from the freezer, and I carefully pared off the burnt top and sides. I carved away the scorched bottom, leaving just the actual, good cake filling. I stirred the filling pieces in a bowl, letting them warm just enough to handle. I then used my 1″ scoop and made small balls of filling. I put them in the freezer to firm up again before the next step.
(Then I got lazy and quit the project for the night.)
Yesterday, I rolled the balls in graham cracker crumbs. I wanted there to be a little “something” that made it more like cheesecake, and I figured the crumbs would provide a bit of sticking power, too. I returned them to the freezer while I then melted some chocolate.
I used up the last five squares of my chocolate almond bark from the holiday season. I kept the plate in the freezer, only grabbing the balls individually to work with them. I put a cheesecake ball in the bowl of chocolate, and then I carefully coated the entire surface with the melted chocolate. I slowly moved them from the bowl to a piece of wax paper to dry. Since the cheesecake was still very, very cold from the freezer, it hardened the chocolate in under a minute. Once I had covered all of the filling balls, I popped the entire set back into the freezer for a few more minutes.
I could have left them at that, really, but that first coating was really rough, very bumpy in places. I thought that a second coating would make them smoother, more beautiful. Unfortunately, I was all out of almond bark coating. At 9:06pm, I was thirty minutes away from a store that would have it, and I didn’t feel like going out. So I scoured my pantry, and I came up with an old box of semi-sweet baking chocolate squares. I used three squares, and it was the perfect amount to add a nice, smooth second coat. The second coat dried a tiny bit more slowly, and then I put them back into the freezer again.
I had a small box of white chocolate on hand already (I’m making Tuxedo Brownie Cups later), so I used 1.5 squares of it, melting it and then drizzling over top of the cheesecake balls. I stepped back, admired my handiwork, and then waited for it all to dry. I put the balls into the refrigerator this time, wanting them to cool before I tried one.
And oh! Oh, my. Goodness, it was HEAVEN in a bite. I could not stop proclaiming how amazing and wonderful and perfect they were as I ate one, and Philip was standing in the kitchen just grinning. I told him he really just wouldn’t understand (he’s not a cheesecake fan to begin with), but ladies. LADIES. Oh my goodness, you have to try these!
… but you’ll have to make ‘em yourself. These pretties wouldn’t ship well at all – they’re just too delicate. But don’t let that stop you! Go, make a cheesecake, burn it, lose all hope, and then TURN THE WORLD AROUND WITH PRETTY CHEESECAKE TRUFFLE RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS.