Cheesecake…Food for the Soul

Hedrick-Pond-Overlook_blog[1]

“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.”  ~Thomas Keller

There is one particular area that is part of my daily walk; it is my favorite spot and greatly resembles the picture at the top of this post. I never really understood the meaning of the phrase “restores my soul” until I moved here and happened upon this lovely spot; it really does restore my soul, puts me back on track and keeps everything in perspective. It is during these daily walks that I think..a lot! And mostly about my current baking project/dilemna.

It was during my daily walk that I came up with an alternative to vanilla cupcakes: Cheesecake cupcakes. It seemed ideal and it lends itself perfectly to the almond and chocolate fillings. I found a couple of good recipes to try and I thought this would be a wonderful way to get around the whole “high altitude” problem since one of the trickiest parts of high altitude baking is the leavening. Because cheesecake has no added leavening (i.e., no baking powder or baking soda), it would be a perfect choice.

Before I started, I took the boxes of cream cheese out of the freezer to defrost.  I have been freezing cream cheese for years…in California.  When I checked it a few hours later, this is what I saw:

photo (62)Not exactly the creamy, dreamy lusciousness that I am used to!  So, after chucking all of it, a trip to the store was necessary.  Don’t you just hate that!

All right, start again!  Here we go:

photo (60)Ingredients are assembled: Cream Cheese, vanilla bean paste, eggs and sugar.  Pretty simple. I beat the cream cheese until soft and added the sugar and vanilla.  Finally, I added the eggs one at a time and mixed everything together:

photo (58) photo (57)

I filled cupcake liners, baked the cupcakes and then I removed them from the oven and let them cool.  Here they are after cooling and with the chocolate and almond fillings:

photo (56)These were great – nicely browned, good flavor and just the right size “sink hole” in the middle for the filling.  But, of course, I could not be satisfied with this. I had to try again.  For the next batch I used the same ingredients but I baked then at a much lower temperature for a longer time.  Here is the result:

photo (47)The only real difference is the lack of browning.  Taste, texture and everything else was the same.  Since these are for my cousin’s wedding, I will leave it up to her to decide which one is best.

photo (50)photo (46)

Now for the best part as far as I am concerned; the frosting. I decided that sour cream icing would be best; what else for cheesecake cupcakes!! I tried a chocolate frosting two ways; the first with milk chocolate chips, the second with chopped bittersweet chocolate:

After the butter and chocolate are melted and cooled, this mixture is added to sour cream and vanilla extract. After mixing together, confectioners sugar is added slowly. This mixture is beat together until spreadable.

photo (48)This is the version with the chopped bittersweet chocolate….the best! No comparison!

The final results, chocolate on the left and almond on the right:

photo (44)photo (39)
Okay Cindy, I think we have 4 keepers. Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry and peanut butter fillings and Cheesecake cupcakes with chocolate and almond fillings. They will be so cute with fondant calla lilies.
Okay, that’s it for now. My next project is fondant calla lilies; watch for pictures on the next blog post. And then: drum roll…… back to Martha’s cupcakes. It will happen!

Stay tuned,
Sweet Joan
Oh, just realized I forgot to talk about the almond sour cream frosting. Basically- sour cream, butter, almond extract, amaretto, confectioners sugar and a little bit of cream.

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