Well, it's a passable effort for a first attempt at making chocolate decorations I suppose, but I will admit it, I bit off slightly more than I could chew with my latest recipe attempt from this month's New York-themed Bake Box. I've always said that my food usually tastes great but wouldn't win any prizes for visual appearance, but I've been outdoing (and surprising !) myself lately with some particularly good-looking bakes.
You may remember my Banoffee Whoopie Pies, our cute Woodland Biscuits, the Mini Baked Donuts, the Cherry Tray Bake and the Teddy Bear Cake that we made recently, which all came out looking perfect. I've got it nailed, I thought. Bring it on, I cheerfully trilled, what's next? Well, pride comes before a fall, and this latest recipe showed that I'm still on a steep learning curve. It still tasted great though and you can learn from my mistakes !
This recipe used a chocolate deco mat from the Bake Box which had Chrysler Building-inspired art deco designs on it. Mine ended up more crisis than Chrysler though !
Baked NYC Cheesecake
for the base :
275g digestive biscuits
175g melted butter
2tbsp golden caster sugar
for the cheesecake filling :
450g full fat cream cheese
125g golden caster sugar
1.5 tbsp plain flour
1½tbsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
1½tsp lemon juice
150ml full fat soured cream (I used marscapone)
to decorate :
50g chocolate, melted
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Crush the biscuits (the easiest way is putting them in a sandwich bag and crushing them with a rolling pin but Pierre wanted to do it by hand !)
Stir in the sugar and melted butter, press into a tin lined with baking parchment and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 240° and prepare the filling. Beat the cream cheese then gradually whisk in the flour and sugar. Mix in the vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
Finally, beat in the cream. (I halved all the quantities for the filling, mainly because the kids had munched half of the cream cheese before I got round to making the recipe, but there was still plenty so I've left the half-measures in the ingredients list above.) The mixture should be smooth, light and airy.
Pour onto the crumb base, smooth the top and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 110°C and bake for a further 15 minutes.
While the cheesecake is cooling, melt the chocolate and use a piping syringe to make the chocolate decorations. Lay the plastic sheet over the cardboard pattern sheet and follow the design with the chocolate. My hand was a bit wobbly but I was pretty impressed. Chill in the fridge for half an hour (I actually put mine in the freezer for a while to help it out too) then carefully peel off the plastic and lay them on top of the cake.
Mine kept breaking so it didn't really look like the Chrysler Building-inspired art deco design. With hindsight, I should have gone back over the lines to create a thicker chocolate shape, but my chocolate was setting faster than I could pipe it. It would be better to melt the chocolate in batches and keep adding it to the piping syringe, rather than doing it all in one go like I did.
Carefully remove the baking parchment and put on a plate.
The chocolate may have been very wonky but it was still a very tasty cheesecake. I don't usually make baked cheesecake but it was equally tasty as the non-baked version and had a firmer texture.
Disclosure : I received a free Bake Box subscription in order to share my attempts at recreating the recipes. Bake Box delivers a new package of goodies every two months and each box costs £14.99 + £2.99 postage. For more information and to see the recipes : http://the-bake-box.com/