Friday, March 30, 2012

Polka Dot Cheesecake

Polka Dot Cheesecake
Source: Maida Heatter's Cakes (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 2011 ed.), pg. 132.

Maida has a lot of cheesecake recipes and I'm surprised I'm just now getting around to making one. This one immediately caught my eye because it is so unique. As Maida says in her introduction, it is not difficult at all and your friends will be amazed. It is also very creamy and delicious!

First of all, it is recommended that you use a round cheesecake pan measuring 8 x 3 inches. I only have a 9" springform pan so I used that. I think the polka-dot effect would be more noticeable if I had used the smaller pan (and the cake would have been taller).

Also a note about the crust. The recipe calls for you to make the cake without the crust and apply the graham cracker crumbs with your hand after the cake has finished baking. This sounds like a huge kitchen mess waiting to happen so I made the traditional cheesecake crust that I normally do (see below). Aside from the crust, I followed the recipe exactly. 

The Crust:
Forgive me Maida for not following your directions for the crust but I wasn't going to attempt inverting the cake and then applying the crumbs by hand to the bottom of the cake. Instead I relied on the graham cracker crust I always use. Combine 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 stick of melted butter in a bowl. Mix thoroughly with a fork. Place the crumb mixture in the baking pan and press it firmly on the bottom. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.


2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 lbs. cream cheese, softened (use Philadelphia brand)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs

Adjust oven rack to lowest position in the oven and preheat to 350. Butter an 8x3 cheesecake pan (or springform pan) all the way up the rim. A larger pan will be also be needed for the water bath as the cake is baking. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot water on low heat. Set aside.
Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until it is completely smooth, scraping the sides occasionally. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and the sugar. Beat well and then add the eggs one at a time. After adding the eggs, do not beat any more than necessary to mix.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and place 2 cups of the mixture in a separate bowl. Add the melted chocolate and mix well (you can use a hand mixer for this).
Spray the buttered cake pan with nonstick spray and pour in the light-colored mixture (not the chocolate mixture).
Place the chocolate mixture in a large pastry bag (or you can use a decorator press like I did). Place the tip of the tube in the center of the cake (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in) and squeeze out some of the chocolate mixture (about the size of a golf ball).
Now, using the same procedure as above, add more dots around the edges. (To do evenly, first add a ball of chocolate to the 12:00 position, then the 6:00 position, 3:00, 9:00, etc.) The dots around the edges should be smaller than the center one).

The top of the cake will not be smooth and level but it will level during baking. 

If using a springform pan, wrap it in foil. Set the pan inside the larger pan and add hot water about 1 - 1 1/2 inches high. Bake for 1 1/2 hours (90 minutes).
After baking, the top of the cake will be golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 2 1/2 hours. After cooling completely, refrigerate for several hours or overnight. To serve, run hot water over a sharp knife and make your cuts through the center of the dots.

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