Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Got Cheesecakes?

Once again we had an amazing time in pastry class this week.  The Sweet Treat of the day was Cheesecakes!  Now I’ve had my fair share of cheesecakes over the years. Some were good, some not so good… But I’ve never had any that tasted as creamy and smooth as the ones we made in class!

We made 2 different kinds… a plain more like a NY style and a Ricotta… And check it out - we MADE the ricotta! So simple. So delicious.  We also made the graham crackers for the crust.  It’s these little things, like making your own ricotta, graham crackers, or marshmallows that we’re learning in class that I find the most fascinating.  Of course you need some kind of yummy goodness to drizzle over the cheesecakes.  The choice was ours to make whatever we wanted to top them off with.  We partnered up and made a delicious batch of Caramel Chocolate Ganache with some sea salt added.

The graham cracker crust was super easy to make.  We just rolled them out and baked without cutting into shapes since we were going to grind them up in the food processor.  I did keep a little piece to try and it was delicious.  I didn’t add very much melted butter to mine in the food processor when grinding up and I think that was good. The crumbs felt like light wet sand for lack of a better term.  For each pan I did try to put some of the graham cracker crumbs up the sides a little bit.

Plain Style Cheesecake
check out that crust!

Making the ricotta was SO EASY!  Now I want to make my own ricotta every day.  In class one of the fellow bakers bought a loaf of bread during one of our breaks from a bakery down the way. We smeared ricotta on bread drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. It was so yummy.  I brought home the little bit left over from our batch and used it to eat with some pita chips as an appetizer while watching the Oscars.

homemade ricotta

The key things that Hadley (our master baker instructor for this class) said for making cheesecakes is that you want to make sure that your ingredients are room temperature and to beat the cream cheese mixture on low to avoid aerating the batter too much.  So we basically put the cream cheese into the stand mixer, set it on low and waited…. And waited… And… you get the idea.  The end result was a creamy, delicious, can’t wait to make this again cheesecake.  We also let the cheesecakes cool in the oven once they were done baking. She opened the oven doors and let them cool.  They were then put in the freezer for more cooling.  She also said to keep them in the freezer overnight to help them really set up. 

So the lesson learned was that homemade cheesecake is da bomb. And to make a day or so ahead of when you want to serve it.

Cheesecakes with caramel/chocolate ganache

I brought in the extra to my office the next day – they were both well received. But I think the ricotta cheesecake got the most ‘yum’ noises.  Also a friend from work said the crust was perfect!  Which is something because he is French and is my biggest critic (which I totally appreciate).  For the first time he actually had no criticism other than “Maybe a dash of whip cream would be nice.” 

Till we bake again!

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