There's nothing I enjoy more than a 70 degree day with bright sunshine and trees beginning to bud. Dogs sunbathe on the sidewalks while their owners catch up over cocktails on patios. I like having all the windows open and falling asleep to the soft hum of a rotating fan. No place on earth is like Minnesota in summer, because no one on this earth appreciates summer like Minnesotans. But summer, it's only March.
Freak winter. Or at least it should still be winter. I can feel the polar ice caps crying—I mean—melting.
I returned from SXSWi on Wednesday prepared to wrap myself in my tweed winter jacket. I found myself shedding layers in the taxi and without a gift for the wonderful woman watching my beloved pups on her birthday. After three local boutiques provided me with even fewer ideas about what my mother would like/want/use, I decided to preheat the oven and make her a birthday cake. But no regular cake would do, I needed something that would take hours, new pans and an unfamiliar and risky technique. I needed to make her a cheesecake.
I finally made use of my tiny food processor that my mother had given me, oh, three apartments ago. I never had a use for it, I thought, until now. I also read in the instructions that it chops Baker's squares of chocolate, so no more melting chocolate chips like a lazy lame-o for me.
If you came here for a vegan solution like most typically do, back away slowly. There is two pounds of cream cheese in this bad boy (along with heavy whipping cream, sour cream, eggs, milk chocolate and malted milk powder).
While the recipe called for an hour and forty-five minutes, my cake realistically took closer to two hours and fifteen minutes. And the center wasn't very well done, though edible.
I also skipped the water bath technique. I didn't trust that my tin foil was heavy duty enough to hold back water from seeping into my hard work. So I put a pan of boiling water on the rack below the cake and still didn't witness any cracking on the top.
Despite all the troubles, it's a delicious cake. My mother enjoyed it and force me to take a quarter of it home with me. I reluctantly obliged. Next year, I'm thinking Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake.
Malted Milk Chocolate Cheesecake
Makes: 1 9.5"-inch Cheesecake (12-14 Servings)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
One 10-ounce package butter biscuits, wafers or shortbread cookies
1/3 cups walnuts
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 oz (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup malted milk powder
2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 quart boiling water
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using a paper towel or your fingertips, generously butter the inside of the springform pan. Use a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil to wrap tightly around the bottom of the pan. This prevents any water from the water bath seeping into the pan.
- In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the cookies, walnuts, and sugar and pulse until the cookies are finely ground, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer the cookie crumb mixture to a medium bowl and add the butter. Use a rubber spatula or a spoon to toss the mixture together to moisten all of the cookie crumbs.
- Transfer the crust to the prepared springform pan and use your fingertips to press it into the bottom and part way up the sides of the pan. Chill the crust while preparing the cheesecake batter.
- Place the milk chocolate in the top of a double boiler over low heat. Stir often with a rubber spatula to help melt evenly. Remove the top pan of the double boiler and wipe the bottom and sides very dry.
- Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, add the malted milk powder, and whisk to distribute evenly. Cover the pan and let the mixture steep for 10 minutes, then strain the cream.
- Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer or in a large bowl. Use the flat beater attachment or a hand-held mixer to beat the cream cheese on medium speed until it's fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the sugar and cream together very well. Stop occasionally and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- One at a time, add the eggs to the cream cheese mixture, beating well after each addition. At first the eggs will sit on top of the cream cheese mixture, but stop often to scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. This will help the mixture to blend. The mixture may also look curdled as the eggs are added, but as you stop and scrape down the bowl, the mixture will smooth out.
- Add the sour cream and vanilla to the cream cheese mixture and stir together to combine.
- Add the strained cream to the batter and blend thoroughly, then add the melted milk chocolate and mix together.
- Transfer the batter into the crust in the springform pan. Use a rubber spatula to smooth and even the top.
- Place the springform pan in the larger cake pan or roasting pan and set the pan on the oven rack. Carefully pour the boiling water into the bottom pan until it reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan. Baking the cake in a water bath cushions it from the heat and adds extra moisture to the oven, which keeps the top of the cake from cracking.
- Bake the cake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, until top is set, but jiggles slightly. Remove the pan from the oven ad transfer the cheesecake to a rack.
- Remove the foil and let the cheesecake cool completely. Cover the top of the cheesecake with waxed paper and wrap the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Refrigerate the cake for at least 6 hours before serving. To unmold the cheesecake, dip a thin-bladed knife into hot water and dry, then run it around the inner edge of the pan. Release the clip on the rim of the pan and gently lift it off the cake.