Monday, April 27, 2009

April Daring Bakers Challenge a Skor!!

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I have to say I was ecstatic when I found out this months challenge was cheesecake. I was even more ecstatic when we had pretty much free reign on what flavor we wanted it to be. I have never made cheesecake before so I knew this would be fun. Cheesecake isn't my favorite dessert in the world, but a while back my dad made a cheesecake from a Bon Appetit magazine that was to die for! One of my favorite desserts I have ever had. I knew I had to make this cheesecake like the Bon Appetit one. So, I decided to make a cheesecake with skor bits, nut and graham crust with a sour cream topping. May sound a little weird the sour cream topping part but it is actually one of my favorite aspects of this cheesecake. I did a pretty good job making this cake taste like the Bon Appetit one. I will give you both recipes, the Daring Bakers Challenge recipe with my changes and also the Bon Appetit recipe which I tried to duplicate. I don't think anything beats the Bon Apetit recipe, I did a pretty good job trying to duplicate it but the Bon Appetit one is better. I really hope you have a change to make this one you will definitely not be disappointed!

You can see all the yummy layers this cheesecake has. Before you bake it,
you put half the filling on the crust, then put 8 oz chopped toffee bits
(I used Skor bars) on top, then the rest of the filling.
During baking the toffee bits melt and make the filling
unbelievable! Gives it such a yummy toffee flavor.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (I did 1 1/2 c. graham crumbs, 1/2 c. toasted almonds, 1/2 c. toffee bits (skor or health) all of which I put in food processor
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar (I used brown sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice (didn't use)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake (I used 1 tsp almond extract)

For Topping I used Sour Cream Topping From Bon Appetit recipe (Scroll down to see recipe)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. (I poured half in, then sprinkled with 8 oz chopped toffee bits, then put other half on). Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. When almost done put sour cream filling on then bake 5 more minutes. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

Some variations from the recipe creator ("Infamous" Abbey):

** Lavender-scented cheesecake w/ blueberries - heat the cup of heavy cream in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add 2 tbsp of lavender flowers and stir. Let lavender steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes, then strain the flowers out. Add strained cream to cheesecake batter as normal. Top with fresh blueberries, or make a quick stovetop blueberry sauce (splash of orange juice, blueberries, a little bit of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon - cook until berries burst, then cool)

** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel - take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website - just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).

** Tropical – add about a half cup of chopped macadamias to the crust, then top the cake with a mango-raspberry-mandarin orange puree.

** Mexican Turtle - add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce.

** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey, add about a teaspoon or more (to taste) of cinnamon. Take 2 pears (any variety you like or whatever is in season), peeled and cored, and poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of "coins" of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid and simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears and fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Some variations from Jenny (from JennyBakes):

**Key lime - add zest from one lime to sugar before mixing with cream cheese. Substitute lemon juice, alcohol, and vanilla with key lime juice.

**Cheesecakelets - put in muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups. Try baking 20-35 minutes, or until still a little jiggly, and cool as before.

Bon Appetit Christmas Cheesecake with English Toffee filling
(This is the best EVER cheesecake! It will make non cheesecake lovers crazy about it!)
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 5 ounces graham crackers)
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup English toffee bits (such as Skor)
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 8 ounces chocolate-covered English toffee (such as Skor or Heath bars), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 16-ounce container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Add butter; stir until moist clumps form. Press mixture over bottom and 1 inch up sides of 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Bake crust until just set, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

For filling:
Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in both extracts. Pour half of mixture into prepared crust; sprinkle with toffee pieces. Pour remaining mixture over. Bake until edges are puffed but center is barely set, about 55 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare topping:
Mix sour cream, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Pour topping over hot cheesecake. Bake cake until topping is just set, about 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool 10 minutes. Run knife between cake and pan sides. Chill cake uncovered overnight.

Remove pan sides and place cake on platter. Garnish top with candies.


  1. I am so exited to try this cheesecake. It sounds heavenly. I'll have to let you know how it turns out for me.

  2. Hey Carly! The cheesecake was so good! Where do you find these! I love your blog, i bake way to much now because of it. Keep posting!

    Oh and I don't know if you have heard of it but I was introduced to this product called the galvanic spa, you probably know what it is because you do skin care, but this thing is amazing! It gets rid of wrinkles, cellulite, acne. Anyway i thought of you when I bought it and thought you would maybe like to use it. Let me know if you are interested! Oh! and I tried those hI hat cupcakes. How do you dip them without the frosting coming off.

  3. That looks and sounds incredible! Cheesecake has always been intimidating for me. Maybe I'll try it though, b/c that looks fantastic!

  4. Yum, toffee is a good choice. Thanks for being a part of this month's challenge.

    Jenny of JennyBakes

  5. this looks fantastic! i too am not the biggest cheesecake lover, but i might give this a try!

  6. Great job! I like your variation!