Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pear Caramel Tea Infused Cheesecake

Sometimes my dessert inspiration comes from tea. I'm a huge fan of tea and have used it in my baking *numerous* times! It opens up a world of new flavors! I have such a great time making Tea Infused Cheesecakes and it's so exciting when I walk into a store like Spice and Tea Exchange and discover a new flavor (this excitement is also over the spices in the store!). On a recent trip to the Spice and Tea Exchange here in Tampa, I found Pear Caramel Tea - ONE sniff and I knew I had to make dessert with it!
Without further ado, here is the recipe for my most recent cheesecake creation!

Pear Caramel Tea Infused Cheesecake by Melisa Taylor.

Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan.

1 to 1 1/4 cups ground Graham Cracker Crumbs
4-5 tablespoons of butter (melted)
2-3 tsp of tea (ground to a powder in magic bullet)

Pear Caramel Tea Simple Syrup:
1 tbsp loose tea (wrap up in a cheesecloth bundle, or throw in the water and strain out after boiling and steeping)
16 ounces water
1 cup of sugar

-bring to boil until sugar dissolves and the syrup starts to coat the back of the spoon. Take off heat, let cool. Syrup will thicken. Depending on how long you cook the syrup, it will get really thick!

3 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
dash of salt
1/4 cup room temp Pear Caramel Tea simple syrup
1 tsp powdered tea (approximate) - not totally necessary, but I like to add it for extra flavor.
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Add powdered earl grey tea to graham cracker crumbs, melt butter, add butter to crumbs. Mix up and press into bottom of prepared springform pan. I like to use a cup to press crumbs to the bottom of the pan.
Bake crust for about 7 minutes. Take out of oven and let cool.

Mix cream cheese, sugar and salt on high speed until it becomes shiny and well combined. Add powdered tea and mix to combine. Add Tea Simple Syrup and vanilla extract, mix to combine. Add eggs one at a time and mix to combine on low speed (so you don’t incorporate too much air in to mix).

Tap bowl of cheesecake batter on counter to release air bubbles. Pour batter into pan with cooled crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Lower oven temp to 300 degrees. Continue to bake for another 15-30 minutes, or until cheesecake is set a couple inches along the outside edge and slightly jiggly in center. Also, batter should be at least 150 degrees fahrenheit. Remove from oven. Slide flexible knife along edges of pan to release cheesecake from sides of pan. Let cool on rack about an hour or more, until it comes to room temp. Put in fridge, let cool 6-8 hours or overnight. Remove edge of pan and serve!
You can use some of the simple syrup for serving with the cheesecake!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One of my favorite cheesecakes I made in 2010.

A year ago I started making Pumpkin Infused Vodka. A bartender friend and I discovered how deliciously it went with Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur!
This year I decided to use that combination in Cheesecake & it came out great!

Pumpkin Bailey’s Cheesecake

1 to 1 & 1/4 cup graham cracker & ginger snap crumbs mixture
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter, melted

24 oz cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
dash of salt
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place cookies in a blender or food processor; process with on/off pulse until finely crushed.
Add to melted butter; stir. Press crumb mixture onto bottom of 9" springform pan; bake for 5 minutes, remove and let cool.

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add sugar, salt and cornstarch; beat until blended. Beat in pumpkin, spices, & Bailey’s. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared crust. Place pan on cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 200°F (DO NOT forget - very important) and continue baking until it’s 150 degrees or until center is almost set up (about another 45-60 minutes) – the edges will be more firm and the center will be a bit wobbly. Let cool in warm oven about 15 minutes. Loosen edge of cheesecake; cool completely on wire rack. Refrigerate cheesecake, uncovered, 6 hours or overnight. Remove rim from pan and serve!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

me, and my first recipe post....

I have been enjoying making yummy desserts for years and now I make desserts for a restaurant in my neighborhood called "Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe".  I do Bourbon Peach Cobblers (several a week), and 2 different "Cheesecake Specials" per week.
I love the challenge of coming up with new cheesecake flavors every week.  I try my best to come up with something you can't buy anywhere else.  I get inspiration from all over - sometimes it's the hot tea I'm drinking, sometimes it's the weather, the season, shopping trips, etc.
This week, the inspiration is seasonal fruit.  If you haven't tried a Blood Orange, you are missing out.  Not only are they pretty on the inside, they are delicious and rich.  So, I decided to make a Spiced Blood Orange Cheesecake.  Although I have a normal go-to recipe for citrus cheesecakes, I wanted to try out different recipes and a quick search brought up this recipe.  I, decided to make some changes, though.  I prefer warm spices with my blood oranges.  I couldn't find the actual blood orange, but was able to find Blood Orange juice, so I made a simple syrup from it and infused the flavor into the cheesecake that way.  I'm happy to report the cheesecake is delish!  :)

I apologize for the crappy iphone picture of the cheesecake.  I need to break out the actual camera for this, now that I plan to blog about it. :)

Here is the recipe, with my changes bolded in parentheses:

Blood Orange Cheesecake - adapted from Aimée's recipe recipe
makes a 10-inch round, serves between 8 and 16, depending on how generous you are.

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
(1-2 tbsp cinnamon orange spice - loose tea (ground to a powder with a magic bullet).)1/3 cup butter

675 grams cream cheese (I used 3 - 8 ounce packages = 24 ounces, slightly over 680 grams)
3/4 cup sugar (I used a tad over 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup sour cream
(pinch of salt)
(1 tsp ground cinnamon)
(1/2 tsp ground cardamom)
(1/4 tsp ground cloves)
zest and juice of one lemon (I skipped this)
zest and juice of one blood orange (or regular orange) (used 1/4 cup Blood Orange Simple Syrup instead)
5 large eggs, room temperature

Blood Orange Simple Syrup:
2 cups blood orange juice
3/4 cup sugar

bring blood orange juice to a boil and reduce to 1 to 1 1/2 cups and add sugar - stir, remove from heat when it starts to become a syrup consistency.  let cool before using in recipe.

1 1/2 cups sour cream 
juice and zest of one blood orange (1 tablespoon blood orange simple syrup)
1/4 cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup and also added a tsp of vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350F.
For the crust, melt butter and add to crumbs. Mix well and press into a ten-inch springform pan. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until slightly golden. Cool.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add citrus zest and juice (or blood orange simple syrup). Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition, but not too vigorously.  Pour over crumb crust and bake for about 40 minutes (or until internal temperature is 150 degrees). Middle will still be slightly jiggly.

Remove from oven and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove ring. Cool 15 minutes on the counter.

(my cheesecake cracked after it started to cool a little... it may need to stay in the oven with the oven off and oven door ajar for about 15 minutes - so it cools slowly).

Meanwhile, prepare topping.  Pour over slightly cooled cheesecake and let stand for half an hour at room temperature. 
Chill completely. Remove ring and serve.