Daring Bakers April 2009 Challenge: Cheesecake
This month our challenge was simple: follow an easy cheesecake recipe from start to finish. But, as with most Daring Baker’s challenges, there was a twist: be as creative as possible.
I started out thinking of modifications from girl scout cookies to tropical fruit, but before I could decide for sure, a challenge presented itself. I was invited to a potluck dinner for which the guest of honor did not eat refined sugar.
How to make cheesecake with no refined sugar? The question intrigued me and I decided to make it my recipe modification.
After much debate, I decided to sub agave nectar (Trader Joe’s sells it) for sugar, and to make the graham cracker crust with almonds. So the recipe ended up as:
2 cups finely chopped roasted almonds
1 stick butter
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla
Blended in Cuisinart, pressed into the bottom of a 9” round pan. I baked this for 10 minutes before adding the batter.
24 oz creamcheese
¾ cup agave nectar
3 large eggs
¾ cup heavy cream (reduced to make up for the additional liquid)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla
I mixed the cake ingredients, poured into the crust, and rested the pan in a larger pan of hot water. I put this in the oven at 325 (reduced because agave nectar is supposed to brown at a lower temp than sugar).
This was all easy. Deciding when it was done, however, was hard. Bake until the top is almost set? I’ve never made cheesecake before, but I found this very vague. So I turned off the heat when the center was still wobbly, and left it in the cooling oven for one hour, as suggested. The center was just set by the end of this, and I put it in the freezer overnight.
The next morning I flipped it out of the pan, while frozen (I didn’t use a springform pan because I was afraid the water bath would leak, and had read this was a good way to get out cheesecakes made in regular pans). It defrosted all day in the fridge. Right before I left for the potluck I sliced some strawberries and kiwis and decorated the top and sides.
Overall it tasted pretty good, but the texture was sort of suspicious. I don’t know how this recipe would have turned out anyway, so I don’t know if it’s the agave nectar’s fault. It was just a little too creamy for me; I wanted to see internal structure to the cake, like crumbs of mush, but instead it was smooth as a custard. But, like I said, the taste was great and I liked the way it looked, so overall it would say it was a success.
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.