Look up to the sky Joan Cheesecake

look-up-to-the-sky-joan.jpeg

Oh my, oh my – hasn’t our beloved Backstage Baker has outdone himself?

First, apologies for the long hiatus, but after closing OTHELLO in the Park, James took the summer off to recharge and celebrate a milestone birthday in Italy!  On returning, he plunged right into rehearsals of MOTHER OF THE MAID  a play by Jane Anderson that examines the Joan of Arc story from the perspective of her mother.  And when her mother is played by Glenn Close — well, you have an incendiary evening of theater.  Click here to try and buy tickets.  (Would it be too punny of me to say this is a hot one?)

The cake above was created by James for the company’s first Wine and Unwind after opening.  (Before then, he assured me, he had been baking recipes we’d previously blogged.)

Here’s the recipe, in James’ own words:

This originally came to me as a “Galaxy Cheesecake,” and the beauty of this cooked-but-not- baked cheesecake is that you can actually paint with the batter. I have used darker food coloring and made it look like a starry night sky. I also made this during the production of PLENTY to mimic the dappled sky on the set.

Here, the inspiration came from the lines in the second to last scene of the play where Isabelle is comforting her daughter Joan. She talks about St. Catherine telling her to look up to the skies before she feels the flames.  (And let me tell you, this scene is heartbreaking.)

Look Up to the Sky Joan Cheesecake

For the crust:

12 oz cookies- crumbled and ground fine in the food processor.  (Oreos are great for doing a starry evening sky. I used gluten-free chocolate cookies this time because some of the company is gluten free. They also make a lighter crust. Tate’s makes some of the best gluten free cookies. I also like to used dark chocolate cookies to better frame your cheesecake.)
4 oz (1 stick) melted butter

For the filling:

6 1/2 oz white marshmallows (I used the mini marshmallows because they are easier to melt)
8 oz package of cream cheese
3/4 cup milk
3 tsp lemon juice
Food coloring in blue, yellow and red

Method:

  1.  Mix the crumbs with the butter
  2. Put the mixture in a springform pan. Pat the base down with a spoon, forming a thick border of the cookie mixture around the circumference. You can shape it further using a glass that you press around around the edge. Refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Melt the marshmallows with the cream cheese in a stainless steel bowl that is sitting on pot of boiling water. Keep stirring with a whisk. Once a uniform, lump free cream has formed, stir in the milk and the lemon juice. Then, divide the cream between four bowls — two large ones and two small ones. Put more cream in the larger bowls accordingly. You want to pick your base color and keep the most of that in the largest bowl. In this case it was the blue.
  4. In the first, stir in a few drops of blue food coloring until you get a sky blue color. leave one bowl with less batter plain. This will be the clouds. Then in the smaller portions mix yellow and red to create a fiery orange. In the bowl with the smallest portion mix solid yellow
  5. Now start painting!  Pour the blue cream onto the cheesecake base first. Add portions of the plain white cheese batter for the clouds and swirl with the tip of the knife or a silicon bristled pastry brush. Towards the bottom of the pan I layered on the yellow and orange and swirled a flame effect.

You could use this technique with other colors to create all sorts of paintings.

Refrigerate the cake for at least two hours — then get ready to serve up some slices of edible art!

Grace Van Patten who plays JoanGrace Van Patten, who plays Joan

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