Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Red* Velvet Cheesecake - Birthday Cake, Birthday Cake

Note: I didn't mark the title with a star because I thought that this cake was a shining star of cakes, nor did I think it was a French comic book viking

My Friday dinner cooking partner first introduced me to red velvet cupcakes two years ago when she, my wife and I went to visit a yearly 'Ye Olde' Market in Old Montréal. Along the way we stopped into Les Glaceurs, a cup cake shop which has a prime location right next to the Notre Dame Basilica. 
We each picked one cupcake. I picked the top right lemon one. 
Bites were shared and we all agreed that red velvet was super duper number one. At a later get together, she went and made red velvet cupcakes so needless to say, she likes them a lot. It was only fitting that after being inspired by the Cheesecake Factory in Boston, I decided to make a red velvet cheesecake for her birthday. 

I can't write about cheese cake and not mention my Mẹ's cheese cake cup cakes. They're white or chocolate cheese cup cakes, with a graham cracker base, that have sweet cherries on top. Family and friends will speak of the famed cheese cakes and since my Mẹ is so nice, she will always make plenty if she knows there are guests coming who crave the cheese cake.
This will be the first time I've ever made cheese cake but I have cheese cake flowing through my blood and from that comes the experience and knowledge required, right? Unfortunately, they weren't red velvet so I pointed at the internet and said "red velvet cheesecake, go!"

Red Velvet Cheesecake (From Recipegirl.com)
(If you click 'print recipe' on her site it's going to print 2 pages, where the 2nd page will contain half a sentence. I hate that!)

I know I often joke about how I stray from the recipe but I 100% followed this one. Wait, actually, I remembered that because I didn't have a cake pan, I borrowed one from the birthday girl and it was an 11' pan so I had to crush a few extra Oreos, but that's fine...

Ingredients:

CRUST:
17 oreo cookies, crushed finely (23 if using an 11' pan)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon granulated white sugar
CHEESECAKE:
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 ounces red food coloring (two 1-ounce bottles)
FROSTING:
3 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
heavy duty foil

Directions:

1. Prepare crust: Stir together Oreo crumbs, melted butter, and 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar; press mixture into bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare water bath: Fill large roasting pan (big enough for springform pan to fit into) with about 1 inch of water. Place in oven and allow to preheat along with the oven.
3. Prepare filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar at medium-low speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add eggs and remaining cheesecake ingredients, mixing on low speed just until fully combined. Pour batter into prepared crust.
4. Take out two sheets of heavy duty foil and layer them on top of one another. Place springform pan on top of the foil and wrap the foil gently around the pan and up the sides. Make sure that there are no tears or holes and that the foil comes all the way up around all sides of the cake. Carefully place the foil-protected pan into the water bath in the preheated oven.
5. Bake for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 300°F. Bake for an additional 75 minutes or until the center is firm. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven. Carefully remove cheesecake from water bath and place on wire rack. Run a thin knife around the outer edge of the cheesecake. Cool on rack for a couple of hours, until the cheesecake becomes close to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours (or overnight). Remove sides of springform pan.
6. Prepare frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Spread evenly on top of cheesecake. Garnish, if desired.

Tips:

*You may sub 1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs for the crushed oreos.
*You may choose to bake the cheesecake instead with no water bath. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 300 and bake for an additional 75 minutes. Let cheesecake stand in oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven; cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. (Baking without a water bath - you run the risk of cracking the top of the cheesecake).
*Some readers have indicated that there is far too much frosting for this recipe. I personally like a lot of frosting, so you can see a thick layer of frosting in the photograph. If you're not big on frosting, you can leave it off entirely or cut the frosting recipe in half.
Source: RecipeGirl.com (Adapted from Southern Living)

This cake is so amazingly rich and delicious. One would think that a cream cheese icing on top of a cheese cake would be overkill, but it works quite perfectly with the red velvet which was more mousse-like than cheese cakey. However, this may be more related to how we only let it set for a couple hours (it's a long story).

The finished product.
If you've taken a look at RecipeGirl's recipe, you're probably noticing a slight disparity between the colours of our respective cheese cakes. For a reason I have yet to determine, mine took on a fuschia/raspberry colour! It basically happened at the point where I added the two bottles of food colouring. I was extra excited to bake this cake because I got to use my new Kitchenaid mixer that has been sitting in the cupboard for a month. I usually like to bake with my own two hands but I figured for a cheese cake I could use all the help I can get.
One minute, it's cocoa brown.
The next, it's raspberry velvet!
So I strayed from the recipe but only in the base, and the base is sitting next to the mixer, unable to have any effect on the mixture!

Crushing up an entire bag of Oreos has always been a
dream of mine.

If I were to investigate what could have possibly gone wrong, I would guess that it would be in my mixing of light and regular cream cheese. The recipe called for 3 and a half packages (including the cream cheese icing). I bought two regular and two light (slightly less fat) packages then mixed two regular and one light as the three packages that go into the cake batter. Perhaps there is some property of the light cream cheese that lightened up the red of the food colouring. I just dug through my recycling to make sure that both the bottles of food colouring said 'Red' and they did, just to confirm that I didn't end up buying 'Fuschia'. In the end, the birthday girl enjoyed it and everyone thought the colour was interesting. It does look more refreshing and summery rather than a green and red Holiday cake.

Any other thoughts on why I got Fuschia cake?

We were slightly impatient
that slow southern style