Monday, September 17, 2012

Tiramisu Cheesecake

My dad is an amazingly talented woodworker, a talent from which Jason and I have benefitted exceedingly well. Amongst other things, he made our dining room table out of a fallen cherry tree! It is a beautiful piece of workmanship and I am very lucky to eat off of it nearly every day.

As we get our home ready for the new addition, there are a couple projects that Jason and I would like to tackle but don't exactly have the skill set necessary to get them accomplished on our own. Not wanting to take an unfair advantage (let's be clear, I do want to take fair advantage) of his wood-working abilities, I sent him an email proposing an exchange. It went something like this:

Hey Favorite Daddy in the Whole Wide World:

Can we barter goods and services? In exchange for your assistance in carpentry, I can offer you both both pesto and cheesecake (not together unless that's your request).

Favorite Daughter in the Whole Wide World

Yes, I get that this is not exactly a completely even exchange, but I also know that my pops loves some cheesecake. Happily, I can report he agreed to a brainstorming session so long as it included cheesecake and a cappuccino. Thus my idea for a tiramisu cheesecake was born!

Tiramisu Cheesecake
Kelley Gondring

Preheat oven 500º

Combine in a medium bowl:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

Thoroughly mix so that all ingredients are well incorporated. Pour mixture into the springform pan. Spread crumbs evenly across the bottom, using your fingers to firmly pack. Place in refrigerator.

In an electric mixing bowl, add:
2 eight ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 eight ounce package reduced fat cream cheese, softened

Using the paddle attachment, mix at moderate speed for thirty seconds.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add:
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons whipping cream

Mix 1 1/2 minutes so that the ingredients are smooth and creamy. Half way through, scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Over beating the batter will result in it rising too much and then falling when it cools, so set a timer if necessary.

One at a time add:
4 large egg yolks
Beat until yolk is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat.

Using a low speed, mix in:
1/2 cup freshly brewed strong espresso, cooled
until just incorporated.

Pour batter into the spring-form pan over top of the graham cracker crumb crust. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil and bake for 12 minutes. Reduce temperature to 200º and bake for 40-45 minutes, removing foil about half way through.

Turn off the oven and use a wooden spoon to hold the oven door ajar (yes, the center of the cheesecake should still be jiggly in the middle). Let the cheesecake sit for 30 minutes.

While the cheese cake is in the oven cooling, prepare Mascarpone Topping.

Mascarpone Topping
adapted from tiramisu recipe in The Joy of Cooking

In a medium bowl with a handle, beat on high until thick and light yellow:
3 large egg yolks
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Whisk in:
2 tablespoons sweet Marsala
1 1/2 teaspoons water

Place the bowl over a skillet of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 160º. [I tried this traditional way and it took forever! As I've mentioned before, I like to cook at night, so after 10 minutes or so, I got impatient and placed the mixture in a glass Pyrex container and put it in the microwave for 15 seconds. I then whisked it, measured the temperature, and repeated three times. If you do it this way, you just need to make sure not to overcook the eggs.] Set mixture in the refrigerator to let cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat on high until soft peaks form:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Set aside.

After 10 minutes or so, remove egg mixture from the refrigerator and whisk in:
6-8 ounces Mascarpone cheese
Gently fold in the whipped cream mixture.

At this point, the cheesecake it probably ready to come out of the oven. Pour the Mascarpone topping over the top of the cheesecake and evenly spread. Place in the refrigerator overnight to let both the cheesecake and the topping completely cool and settle.

Decorate with chocolate shavings, cocoa powder, whipped cream, and espresso beans.

Eat up!

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