Friday, April 18, 2008

A Taste of Yellow

Ok, my food might not look that yellow. It might look more creamy, or off-yellow, if you will. Or maybe brown. There’s that big hunk of brown on the top. But it is yellow, and was made with some yellow food (egg yolks). Explanation: a Taste of Yellow is to support LiveStrong Day, in honor of Lance Armstrong (yay Austin!) and other cancer victims. I think this is only the second year for the actual Taste of Yellow to accompany LiveStrong Day, but it’s a big foodblogging event. Most people write about people they know who have been affected by cancer, I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t had some experience with it, but I’m not good at writing about that. And I don’t want to talk about sad stories, I want you to think sweet thoughts. So onto the yellow food, and if you want to read better composed accounts of cancer in people’s lives, there are lots other food blogs participating in a Taste of Yellow. For more information, look here.

Now to my yellow food. I didn’t make this with the intention of entering it into a Taste of Yellow, but the deadline’s approaching and I looked through pictures of food I’ve made recently that still haven’t posted about, and there it was. It’s another cheesecake. One that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and I thought I was kind of clever with the idea, but apparently it’s been done before. Anyways, it’s a crème brulee cheesecake. I do loooove crème brulee, and it’s very easy, just a baked and burnt custard, so I thought why not incorporate some cream cheese in there and put it on a cookie crust. Great. And I had access to a blow torch, which I don’t normally have, so all the more reason for me to burn things. I was very happy with the results, it was rich and creamy and a perfect texture. The only thing is I got so caught up in the cream brulee part of the recipe, that I only put in 300 g of cream cheese, which is about half what I normally do, so it was a very thin layered cheese cake, but still great.

I also experimented with a water bath. Lots of cheesecake recipes, and crème brulee for that matter, call for water baths. They say it makes it bake evenly so it will come out without cracking. I always ignore that, and am happy with my results, because even if they do crack or puff up or whatever, they always seem to sink back down and work just fine. But I thought double whammy, as my two desserts that I’m mixing both call for water baths (looking back, I don’t know why I bothered, as I was just going to pour sugar on and burn the top anyway). So I wrapped my springform in foil before starting and got my water bath ready with warm water, and you know what, the stupid thing leaked. I ended up with soggy crust. I decided I do not like the water bath. It is bad, and I have reverted back to my usual method. Other than that little glitch, I definitely would make this again, it was twice as good because it’s composed of two delicious desserts.

Crème Brulee Cheesecake

125 g Maria cookies/graham crackers
75 g butter

300 g cream cheese (if you want thin layer, otherwise 600 g)
5 egg yolks
3 egg whites
2 vanilla beans
250 ml cream
½ - 1 c sugar (sorry, I didn’t measure this part…I just pour in a bit, and then add if I need to)
brown sugar for sprinkling

You know the routine now (mush up cookies, melt butter, press in springform, bake for 10 minutes) but if not, look here.
Now it’s the crème brulee part. Pour the cream into a pot and cut the vanilla beans in half, scraping the seeds out into the pan, and then put the beans into the cream too. Over medium high heat, bring the cream to a simmer, almost boil, then turn heat off. I put a lid on it and let it infuse while I get the other stuff ready. With a whisk, beat the egg yolks and sugar for a minute or two, until well mixed and a bit lighter in color. Take a fine mesh sieve and pour the vanilla cream through it into the egg yolks, whisking as you do this. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese a bit, just to loosen it up (this can be done with the same whisk). Then add the egg yolk mixture and whisk everything together again. Unless you’re afraid of raw egg yolks (which I am not) then stick your finger in and taste a bit to see if you need something more, a bit of sugar, pinch of salt, etc. Finally, add the egg whites. I know crème brulee doesn’t call for whites, but cheesecake does, and mine was seriously lacking in volume, so I added them and like I said already, I was totally satisfied with the flavor and texture of the cheesecake.
So this is the part where I put it in a water bath, although I wouldn’t suggest that, especially if you’re just going to destroy the top anyways. Bake at 170 C or 350 F until a toothpick comes out almost clean (could be anywhere from 20 min-1 hour). Chill overnight in the fridge.
Now, if I was having a party or something, I might pour brown sugar over the whole cake and torch the whole thing, because I think that would look very cool, but it’s not very practical, as when you try and cut into burnt sugar it doesn’t always break where you want it to, so pieces would end up in strange shapes. So, cut each piece individualy first and put a good layer of brown sugar over the top, and then torch it, and you’ll see the sugar bubbling and melting together. It’s great. If you don’t have a blow torch, a broiler in the oven works too, that’s what I normally use at home. Now feel free to shatter burnt sugar. Shatter away. It’s fun.


Barbara said...

This looks so yummy Courtney. Lucky you to be in Spain. I love Spain. Thanks for supporting LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow.

Lina said...

IT looks beautifully yellow to me!

Arfi Binsted said...

YUM!! I know this is delicious!

Inne said...

That looks delicious Courtney. I haven't had much success with waterbaths either, somehow it always goes wrong.