This year, I want to improve my baking skills, so I joined Abby Dodge (www.abbydodge.com) and her group in #baketogether. She posts one recipe a month and invites the community to participate by putting their own twists on her recipe which she publishes at the site. Last month we baked bread. For February, it's cheesecake.
I've never been much of a cheesecake baker. The ones I've tried over the years have been failures--cracked, dry. Abby's instructions were clear and well drawn, so I decided to go for it. My initial plan was to use meyer lemons, but I must have been in mind meld with other members of the #baketogether community because there are at least 4 lemon cheesecake recipes posted as of right now. So I decided to go with orange and almond--a favorite combination--and I have a bag of the sweetest clementines in the world on my kitchen counter. I used Trader Joe's vanilla wafers, sliced almonds and clementine zest in the crust, and pureed clementines, almond extract and orange extract in the cake itself. —drbabs
1 9 inch cheesecake
For the Crust:
plain cookies (I used vanilla, but chocolate wafers or gingersnaps would be equally good)
zest of 3 large clementines (reserve fruit)
(4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups
large clementines that you reserved after zesting
large eggs, room temperature
In This Recipe
For the Crust:
Process the cookies and almonds with the salt till they are mostly fine crumbs. Some larger pieces of almond are OK. (Don't clean out the bowl--you're going to use it again.)
Heat the oven to 375°F. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a piece of aluminum foil and clasp the outer ring over the foil so the edges hang outside the ring. Scoop the cookie crumb mixture into a medium bowl. Stir in the clementine zest and the almond extract. Drizzle with the melted butter and mix until well blended.
Dump the crumbs into the springform pan and cover with large piece of plastic wrap. Place your hands on the plastic wrap and press the crumbs about 2 inches up the sides of the pan. (The plastic wrap will keep the crumbs from sticking to your hands.) With the plastic wrap still in place, spread the remaining crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan and firmly press down to make a compact layer. Bake until the crust is lightly browned and fragrant, about 12 minutes. Set on a rack to cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. (VERY IMPORTANT)
For the Filling:
Process the clementines in the food processor till liquefied. Pour into a measuring cup. You should have about 3/4 cup of pulpy juice.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, flour and salt until very smooth and no lumps remain. Stop and scrape the beater and sides of the bowl frequently until you are sure there are no lumps.
Add the sugar, clementine pulp and extracts, and beat until well blended and smooth, stopping to scrape beater and bowl several times. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just blended, stopping to scrape beater and bowl before each addition. (I kept the mixer on Stir, and blended each egg for about 30 seconds. The edges still cracked a little, so you might want to reduce the time.)
Tap the bowl several times on the counter to release some of the air bubbles. Pour the filling into the crust. Use the tip of a small knife to pop any air bubbles on the surface.
Bake at 300°F until the cake is slightly puffed around the edges and the center still looks moist, about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight or up to 3 days. The cake can also be frozen up to 1 month.