Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happy Birthday MLK Jr.!!!

I (Rachel) am back at school in Arkansas. So for the next few months Casey and I will be baking separately, but it will still be delicious! Monday was Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday, which means we did not have classes!! So naturally, my friends and I wanted to have a "bake-on" (a bake-off would require splitting into teams, we just wanted to bake together) in honor of Dr. King. What would Dr. King love more than a Coffee-and-Coconut layered cheesecake?

We had to make a quick trip to the grocery, so we strapped on our rollerblades and hopped on our bikes (one or the other, not both at the same time) and headed off the Kroger.
I'm sure they will appreciate this picture. I just couldn't pass up documenting this memory :)

After our run to the grocery, it was time to get a move on the baking. My wonderful friends were thrilled to be a part of the blog, so they were all a big help in making the cheesecake. Here are the ingredients that you need for the filling:
Cream cheese, sugar, eggs, sour cream, instant coffee, salt, coconut extract, and boiling water. Begin by creaming the softened cream cheese in a large bowl using either a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Cream the mixture just until smooth and...creamy.
 So creamy! Here is my friend Britney being such a great help!
Next, gradually add sugar and salt anf mix until blended and light and fluffy.  Then,  add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Now it is time to split the batter in half. In one half of the batter add coconut extract (I used coconut syrup instead, but extract would give a stronger flavor).
 For the other half, dissolve instant coffee in boiling water (I forgot to take a picture before I added it to the mixture).
 And add it to the second half of the mixture and stir.
Now it is time to start the crust. Claire was responsible for this job, and man was she qualified! Here are the necessary ingredients.
Graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Simple as that! First thing to do is mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter and add the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir until the crumbs are coated with buttery goodness.
Claire just mixing up some super delicious crust! Once it is all mixed together, press the mixture into the bottom of the greased springform pan and about halfway up the side.
Now, place the crust in the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let the crust cool for a few minutes, then add one half of the cheesecake mixture. We chose to make the bottom layer coconut, but you can do it either way.
Then, carefully pour in the second half of the batter. If you are not careful then the two batters will completely mix together, and you don't want that.
After all of those many steps, it is time to bake! If you have a roasting pan or any oven-safe pan that will fit your springform pan in it, then place the springform pan in that pan and fill the outer pan with about an inch of boiling water. I did not have a pan big enough to fit the springform pan in, so I placed the cheesecake on the middle rack and my Pyrex dish with boiling water on the rack right below the cheesecake. Works just as well. This is necessary to prevent cracking of the cheesecake.
After baking the cheesecake, turn off the oven and let the cheesecake rest in there with the door cracked for one hour. Look at how incredibly uncracked this turned out to be. Yes, there are some on the sides, but nothing to be upset about.
Let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. After all of that waiting, there is still one thing left to be done...the ganache! This is such a fancy word, but don't let it fool you, it is one of the easiest things ever to make. Here is what you need.
Semi-sweet Baker's chocolate, vanilla, heavy whipping cream, butter, and powdered sugar (I'm going to apologize in advance for the lack of step-by-step pictures for this, everything just happened so fast). First thing to do is pour the whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl with the butter, and microwave until the butter melts. Then, pour over the chocolate and mix until chocolate melts. Stir in the vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar. And that is that. While the ganache is still warm, slowly pour onto the middle of the cheesecake.
Carefully spread to the edges, trying to evenly coat the top with the ganache.
Wow. This is so beautiful.
What you are supposed to do next is place the cheesecake back in the fridge to let the ganache set up. However, we had waited too long we dug right in before the ganache hardened. And it still tasted amazing!!
Mmmmmm...the layers are not very distinct, but you can taste both flavors very well.
A little more than half of the cheesecake was left for the next day, so I tried it the next day when the ganache was harded, and it is just wonderful either way :)
You can see the layer a little better today. This dessert is so light, yet so rich and sinful.
I think this is a pretty photogenic dessert, so I took quite a few pictures as I was scarfing it down.
When you think you can't eat one more bite....
...think again. Satisfaction guaranteed!

Coffee-and-Coconut Layered Cheesecake

For the crust:
1¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter (I felt like it needed 6 couldn't hurt)

For the cheesecake:
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water

For the chocolate ganache:
1.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ stick (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/8 cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ tablespoon powdered sugar

Chocolate-covered espresso beans, for garnish (optional)

1. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil.

2. Stir the graham cracker crumbs and sugar together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are moist. Turn the mixture into the springform pan and pat an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while the oven is preheated.

3. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust on a cooling rack.

4. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

5. Put a kettle of water (or medium saucepan filled with water) on to boil.

6. Beat the cream cheese at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat for another 4 minutes, until the cream cheese is light. Add the eggs one by one, beating for one minute after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream.

7. Put half of the batter into another bowl.

8. To one half of the batter, add the coconut extract and gently mix with a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined.

9. Dissolve the espresso powder with the boiling water and add to the other half of the batter. Again, use a rubber spatula to gently mix in the espresso until thoroughly combined.

10. Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around it. Pour the coconut-flavored batter into the prepared crust and spread into an even layer. Very slowly, pour the espresso-flavored batter over the coconut batter.

11. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

12. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door propped open for one hour.

13. After 1 hour, carefully pull the roasting pan out of the oven and lift the springform pan out. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight is better).

14. To make the chocolate ganache, place finely chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Microwave the butter and heavy cream on HIGH for 1 minute. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in the vanilla and then mix in the powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over cheesecake while ganache is still warm. Chill until ready to serve.

*I must give credit where credit is due. The original recipe is from Brown-Eyed Baker

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