Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Baking Up A Better Year

This year is going to be a new year for me.  My first year of graduate school was horrible.  I cried almost every day, developed panic attacks, started psychiatric medication, and tried to drop out of the program.  I am determined that this year will be different.  My second year will be worlds better than the first.  Why?  Because I am going to make it that way.  I am going to approach this year with a new perspective.  I will be working with middle school kids instead of adults with substance abuse, so the work is a little more hopeful.  I will treat myself better by allowing myself the proper amount of sleep, exercise, and vegetables.  I have new classes and new friends.  I will make the time to spend with friends, and allow for plenty of playtime with little Peanut.  Oh yeah, and I'm going to bake more!  All of this should add up to a good year.  And if it doesn't, well, I have the most amazing friends to back me up.

One of these amazing friends, Carla, texted me last minute asking me if I could make her boyfriend's birthday cake.  I will jump at any excuse to bake instead of doing my homework, and since I love Carla and Zach, I immediately said yes and began brainstorming.  Carla said that Zach likes vanilla and alcohol, and I texted her every possibility I could think of in five minutes.  This is what she chose:

Vanilla Bean Whiskey Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from here
Yield: 1 10" cheesecake (approx 16 servings)

Crust Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup Nilla Wafer crumbs
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients.  Stir in melted butter until all crumbs are coated. 
Press into a 10" spring form pan.
Place in refrigerator while you prepare the cheesecake filling.

2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 8oz package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup milk (I used soy)
1/3 cup whiskey

Assemble Ingredients
Beat cream cheese on high until fluffy
Split vanilla bean and remove seeds
I placed the seeds in the soy milk so I wouldn't lose any in the process
Add in remaining ingredients all at once and stir in just until combined.  

Pour batter over crust.
Cover edges of pan with tin foil to prevent the water bath from seeping into the crust
Bake in a water bath at 375°F for 45-50 minutes.

Follow the steps for cooling and removing the sides of pan as listed here.

Whiskey Syrup:
I also made a simple syrup, reduced it down, and added in a generous splash of whiskey.  I don't have any pictures of it because it was intended to be poured over individual pieces before serving.

I wish I could tell you first hand how amazing this cheesecake is, but I can't.  Unfortunately I couldn't make it to Zach's get-together to try it myself, but Carla promised me that it was delicious.  I guess I will just have to find a reason to make another...

Here's to making it a great year.

Love and cookies,

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