Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Recipe Time -- Rum-flavored Cheesecake, a perennial favorite!

Ok, so I know I promised some major recipes when I started this blog and, months in, I have yet to deliver. Bad Jennifer, I know! Anyway, I thought I'd post a holiday favorite in my household -- my rum cheesecake. It's an old recipe that I've adapted throughout the years and goes wonderfully paired with either a chocolate or caramel sauce. If you're a novice cheesecake baker, make sure to read up on both cooking methods to see which one you'd like to try (you should always read the whole recipe first, but you already know that ;) )...

Anywhere, here goes...


1 c finely crushed chocolate wafer or shortbread cookies, (about 10 - 13)
3 T dark brown sugar, packed
2 T unsalted butter, melted
5 packages cream cheese, softened (40 oz)
1 1/4 c sugar
1/3 c heavy whipping cream
1 T rum extract
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/8 t ground cloves
3 eggs


*You can usually find chocolate wafers in the ice cream aisle of Publix, next to the hot fudge sauce and marashino cherries. Some grocery stores don't stock these cookies and some only stock them around the holidays, so call around to find them -- the brand is Nabisco and the name is "Famous Chocolate Wafers" . Worse comes to worse, you can find them online.

*You'll be able to find "Imitation Rum Extract" in the baking aisle near the other extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint. Don't use real rum because it's not concentrated enough to pack in the flavor and if you use too much rum your cheesecake won't set.

*It's always best to use fresh, whole spices -- grate a cinnamon stick and put nutmeg through a mill.

*Best way of cooking? I'll give two directions, one for normal bake and one for a waterbath. The difference? Waterbaths don't produce the heavy, dense cheesecakes that normal baking does. They are a little lighter and a little more moist, with a less intense flavor -- which is better? Personal preference. Also, water baths have a tendency to avoid the cracks along the top (which are caused by overbaking and cooling too quickly) -- it's not a guarantee, though, just less likely to happen. Also, your crust won't be as crisp (as it's been almost steamed) in a water bath vs. the traditional cheesecake cooking method. So, in all? The waterbath method makes it easier to produce evenly baked cheesecakes with no cracks *but* it will yield a softer, more moist cheesecake that occasionally lacks the deep, intense flavor that many people love about cheesecakes!

* If you're doing the waterbath method, wrap the cheesecake with ONE PIECE of aluminum foil and wrap it tightly. DO NOT USE TWO PIECES IF YOUR ALUMINUM ISN"T LARGE ENOUGH, go out and buy extra-large foil. It needs to reach all the way up every side to prevent water from seeping in and ruining your cheesecake. You might even want to double-wrap to ensure no water gets in. This is the biggest problem people have when making cheesecakes and it'll even happen if you're careful if you accidently break a hole in your foil (yes, this did happen to me).

*If you like crispier cheesecake crusts you can bake your crust first. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely before adding filling.


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and take out a 9" Springform pan. If using the water bath method, wrap with foil now.

2. Mix cookies, butter and brown sugar by hand. Press into the bottom of the pan. Follow directions above if you'd like to prebake your crust, otherwise set aside.

3. Using a stand mixer, beat your cream cheese (medium-low to medium speed) just until smooth (only a minute or so, as it should be softened already). Scrape the sides and add in the sugar, cream, rum extract and spices. Beat on Medium speed until smooth and creamy (about 1 - 2 minutes), scraping the sides to avoid lumps. Beat the eggs in on Low speed, one at a time, until well blended.

4. Pour over crust and smooth the top.

**NORMAL METHOD: Place pan on a baking sheet (this will make it easier to hold and it'll catch the grease that will escape from the pan, making your oven less messy) and put into the oven (middle rack, please). Bake until the sides of the cheesecake are set, but the center still jiggles a little when the pan is tapped (about an hour but start checking the cheesecake at 50 minutes to avoid overbaking... can be as long as 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on your oven). Be careful not to overcook or your cheesecake will crack. Prop the door open a little and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for an hour or so. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cheesecake. Put on a rack and let cool completely before unmolding.

**WATERBATH METHOD: Set the wrapped pan in a large roasting pan or baking dish and place in the oven (middle rack, please). Pour boiling water (or extremely hot water) into the baking dish, being careful not to get it on your cheesecake, enough to come 1/2 way up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for around 55 - 60 minutes, or until the edges look puffed but the center still jiggles a little when pan is tapped. Waterbath baking is a little more forgiving than normal baking, so don't worry if you think you've left it in too long. Prop the door open and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for an hour or so. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cheesecake. Put on a rack and let cook completely before unmolding.

5. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours, at least, but 24 hours is best.

Cracked your cheesecake? Don't worry, it happens to the best of us... cheesecakes are finicky creatures and don't believe anyone who says they can produce a perfect, non-cracked cheesecake every single time -- they're lying. I've been baking cheesecakes for eight years and I *still* get cracks occasionally. IF you crack your cheesecake, don't worry... steal a trick from professional bakers and cover the cheesecake with something. Chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles, fruit -- no one will notice because your cheesecake will look fantastic!

So, how was it? If anyone tries this recipe, please let me know. How was the recipe? Easy to follow? Clear and concise?

Let me know by rating and happy eating everyone!


No comments: