Category Archives: Cheesecake

Mascarpone Cheesecake with Almond Crust

MascarponeThis cheesecake tied for the Cheesiest Award.  I think it’s stunning.

It was created by stage manager Elizabeth Clewley, who came all the way from Washington, DC to compete this year.  She was James’ assistant on a number of shows at the Shakespeare Theater in DC, most recently TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.

Elizabeth

Before I let you dive straight into the recipe, though, I do feel the need to discuss mascarpone.  Now, maybe I’m the only one who’s never been exactly sure what mascarpone is, but after having taken the time to Google it, I feel pretty knowledgeable now.  It is a rich, creamy cow’s milk cheese that falls somewhere between butter and cream cheese in terms of texture.  (Okay, I ripped that straight from the Internet and it clarifies nothing.)  Actually, it is about 75% milk fat and has a very thick, unctuous, sour cream-like consistency, but without the tang.  Tiramisu is made with it, if you’re wondering.  I’ve only seen it in teeny containers in the frou frou section of the supermarket, next to the quail’s eggs and the salmon caviar.  It is wicked expensive usually, although I’ve read that the following is an acceptable substitute:

16 oz cream cheese (block style, not whipped)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whipping cream

Blend until smooth.

So, then, without further ado, here is the recipe for one of the Cheesiest Cheesecakes in the 2013 Cheesecake Bakeoff:

Mascarpone Cheesecake w/Almond Crust

Ingredients 

Crust:

1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

Topping:

1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
1/4 cup whipping cream

Method:

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1.  Tightly wrap the outside of a 9-inch diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with 3 layers of heavy-duty foil. Finely grind the almonds, cracker crumbs, and sugar in a food processor. Add the butter and process until moist crumbs form. Press the almond mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan (not on the sides of the pan). Bake the crust until it is set and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Cool. Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

2.  For the filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, and sugar in a large bowl until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

3.  Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the center of the cheesecake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 5 minutes (the cake will become firm when it is cold). Transfer the cake to a rack; cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.

4.  For the topping: Combine the chocolate-hazelnut spread and cream in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave until warm, stirring every 20 seconds to blend, about 1 minute.

5.  Cut the cake into wedges. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the wedges and serve.

And the Cheesecake Bake-off Winner is . . .

Lisa Bracigliano!!

Lisa was James’ production assistant on Jon Robin Baitz’s “Chinese Friends” that premiered at Playwright’s Horizons in 2004.  Lisa has gone on to fame and fortune as the Executive Pastry Chef and Founder of The Chocolate Swirl.  (You HAVE to check our her website, or her shop if you’re lucky enough to live in Queens!  There’s an Iphone birthday cake on the site that is absolutely remarkable!)  So, I guess she was a bit of a ringer, but with a cake of such delicious decadence, who’s going to complain?

Cheesecake1

The cheesecake awards were handed out by Shannon Oliver, the current Miss New York,  and Katie Berry, the current Miss Manhattan.

Cheese3

James just knows everyone, doesn’t he?

The event raised $700 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  A total of 13 cheesecakes were baked and over 60 people attended.  We’ll be posting selected recipes over the next few weeks.

Lisa Bracigliano’s Crown Winning Cheesecake with Caramel, Chocolate and Pretzel Topping

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

2 cups Pretzels (crushed)
2/3 cup Butter (melted)
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar

For the Chocolate Layer:

7 ounces Dark Chocolate (chopped)

For the Filling:

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese (softened)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Topping:

Crushed pretzels
Melted dark chocolate
1-2 packages soft caramels (unwrapped)
Heavy cream (can also use skim milk, or whatever milk you have on hand)

Method:

1.  For the crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the inside of a 9 inch spring form pan with butter. Lay two large pieces of aluminum foil crosswise on your work surface. Place the cake pan in the middle and crimp the aluminum around the pan.

Stir the crust ingredients together in a medium bowl. Once fully incorporated press into the bottom and sides of the prepared spring form pan, creating an even layer.

2.  For the chocolate layer:

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over the prepared pretzel crust. Transfer the spring form pan to the refrigerator for 5 minutes or until chocolate has set.

3.  For the filling:

Whip together the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add the sour cream, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla and salt and stir together until incorporated.Pour the filling over the prepared crust and chocolate layer.

4.  Transfer the cake to a roasting pan and carefully fill the roasting pan with warm water until it comes 1/3 of the way up the sides of the spring form pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until the center only jiggles slightly. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

Refrigerate Overnight

5.  For the topping:

Remove cheesecake from Springform pan. Crush up pretzels and put them on top of cheesecake. Melt the unwrapped caramels in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals.   CAREFUL!  IT WILL BE HOT. Once melted add 3-5 tabl spoons of heavy cream and mix well. If it is still sticky put it back in microwave. Pour evenly over pretzels and let it  drip down sides.

NOTE: If you want you can easily omit this step and use jarred caramel sauce, that will work well too 🙂

Melt more dark chocolate and drizzle over cake

SERVE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE