Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Now that the first month of the new year is about over, lots of us have abandoned those pesky healthy-eating resolutions and returned to our favorite comfort foods.
My particular weakness is cheesecake, so I’m sticking with tradition and starting off the next 11 months of recipes with a dandy new cheesecake.
Chocolate Apricot Cheesecake
For the crust
1 3/4 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Pinch of powdered ginger
For the filling
4 8-ounce blocks cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature, and grab your 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a parchment circle and wrap the outside with foil.
In a smallish bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and ginger. A tiny bit of ginger will do for this recipe. We want a hint of a kick, not a full-on boot in the pants.
Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and stir it all together with a fork until the crumbs hold together. Pat the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan.
Heat your oven to 325 F and break out your stand mixer. Beat together the cream cheese and rest of the sugar until smooth. Blend in the sour cream and the three extracts.
Add five eggs (minus shells) and beat on medium speed for about two minutes, scraping the bowl regularly. Cut the speed and toss in the dried apricots. Whirl it all together until just blended.
Set your prepared pan inside a larger cake pan. Pour the cheesecake batter into the springform pan and smooth out the top if necessary. Set the whole assembly in the oven, and then add water to the outer pan until it comes just shy of the top. Set the timer for 50 minutes and kick back on the couch.
When the timer dings, turn on the oven light and give your stove a shove. Do not open the door! Did your cheesecake give a shimmy, or did it do a World Series-worthy wave? If it’s still wavy, give it about 5 more minutes and check again. When it does just a little shimmy, turn off the heat (leave the door closed) and set the timer for one hour. Snag a cup of coffee and enjoy the next chapter in your favorite novel.
When the hour’s up, lift out the springform pan and peel away the foil. Let your cake cool in the pan to room temperature, then smooth a sheet of plastic wrap over the surface and stick it in the fridge for several hours or overnight. When you’re ready to serve, remove pan, plastic and parchment. Settle your cake on the flattest plate you have, and prepare to wow your guests.