Saturday, May 7, 2011

Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake

 This cheesecake gave me so many problems. everything went wrong, but luckily i was able to salvage the soggy, wet cheesecake with the skills i have acquired from my asian mother, whose motto (and everybody else's asian mothers) was never to waste food. mind you the recipe is very good; using the starbucks espresso made it taste more legitimately like a caramel macchiato from starbucks, especially with the homemade whipped cream and caramel sauce. but taking Alton Brown's advice just did not work for me, and i ended up working on this cheesecake for practically a whole day and a half.

so here's what i did!...
33 graham crackers
1/2 cup butter
1 cup and 2 tablespoons of sugar
8 oz. sour cream
3 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese
3 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup of espresso, or strong coffee
*make sure all ingredients are room temperature!! this will help mixing everything much easier and the batter will be smoother.

i went to starbucks to get two shots of pure espresso, which equals 1/4 cup! i think it was $1.79 for two shots.

butter the sides and bottom of the pan

 put the graham crackers in a bag and crush them into little bitty pieces

 melt butter in a pan (or in a microwave)

 add two tablespoons of sugar into the melted butter

 mix the graham crackers into the butter/sugar mixture to coat evenly

 put 2/3 of the graham crackers into the pan and save the rest for later (for the sides of the cheesecake)

 use a heavy object to pat down the graham cracker crust onto the pan

then put the pan into a 350 degree oven for ten minutes (blindbaking the crust), which prevents a soggy crust. 

 meanwhile, add sour cream into a mixing bowl

 then beat it by itself to lubricate the mixing bowl (according to Alton Brown), this will help the cream cheese (that will be added soon) to not stick to the bowl and will help the batter come together better.

 add the cream cheese and beat that until it's smooth

 add the sugar!

 make sure to clean the batter off the mixer...

 and the sides of the bowl

 now add the eggs one by one, making sure not to overmix, since that will incorporate air into the batter, which causes cracks during baking

 i didn't want to risk overmixing so i used my rubber spatula

 add the vanilla extract and the two shots of espresso

 the batter should be nice and smooth, with no lumps!

 foil the bottom of the springform pan so the water from the waterbath will not leak into the pan

 pour the batter onto the crust, making sure the crust is cooled (don't want any pool of fat from the butter mmm.)

 i stopped pouring the batter halfway and added some of my homemade caramel :D

 once all the batter is in, put the cheesecake into a waterbath with boiled water, 2/3 up the springform pan.

now this was where the trouble happened. Alton Brown baked his cheesecake in a 250 degree oven for an hour, then turned the oven off and left the cheesecake in there for an additional hour, stating that even though the cheesecake did not seem done after the first hour of baking, it will finish baking in the turned-off oven during the additional hour. 

but apparently, after two hours being in the oven, my batter was still jiggling all over, not just at the center, which was what should have happened... i really didn't know what to do, so i turned the oven back on to 250 degrees and turned it off after 30 minutes passed. then i left the cheesecake in the oven for 2 more hours, for a total of five-and-a-half hours in the oven.

it was pretty done after that.. it had a slight jiggle and the top was firm to the touch, so i took it out so it can cool to room temperature.

 baking a cheesecake takes awhile because it needs to be baked at a low temperature (ok, not as low as 250 degrees) and then cooled very slowly, which is the reason why many people just leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the oven off, well after the baking time, because a sudden change in temperature could ruin the cheesecake. 

after a couple minutes of cooling outside the oven, run your knife in hot water

 then run the knife along the edge, so when it shrinks, it won't stick to the pan and produce a crack.
(take the cheesecake out of the pan after chilling it overnight because it will be easier when the cheesecake is more settled.)

 once it's fully cooled to room temperature, leave it in the fridge overnight.

 i thought having the cheesecake in the oven for 5 something hours was bad enough, but when i took the cheesecake out of the springform pan, i realized the crust, as well as the bottom half of the cheesecake was wet and soggy. the waterbath leaked into the pan!! i was freaking out because it was for a birthday!! i was trying to think of ways to fix it.. should i make another one? no, i was way too poor for that... should i invert the cake, scoop out the sogginess, and then use the extra graham crackers to make a new crust? YES.

 sogginess is mostly gone!

 i warmed up the extra graham cracker crust that was reserved for the sides of the cheesecake

 and i patted it down onto my upside down cheesecake.


 i whipped up some whipped cream by beating 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

 i somehow put it back into the springform pan, then foiled it up, let it sit on top of my textbooks, had my bags cushion it, and seat-belted it onto the passenger seat. 
and we were ready to roll!

 i added more caramel sauce!

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