polka dot cheesecake - xmas week 2019

Welcome to Day 4 of Xmas Week 2019. A few months ago Zoebakes blog featured a bull's eye cheesecake adapted from a Maida Heatter recipe. Maida Heatter was a well known American cookbook author who recently passed away at the grand old age of 102. As cheesecake is always a popular dessert at Christmas, I thought I'd like to give it a try and whilst searching for recipes on the net, I found a recipe for a polka dot cheesecake.

I couldn't resist the temptation and gussied it up a bit with a chocolate shortbread base and an espresso flavoured chocolate ganache.

Yes, I won't deny making this cheesecake is a bit of a fiddle but the end result was absolutely spectacular - a crunchy chocolate flavoured base; a smooth as silk filling and the slightly bitter note from the ganache topping. The cheesecake needs plenty of cooling time though, so you'll have to start making the cheesecake the day before you plan to serve it.

Here's the recipe. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. If you'd like to make a larger version refer to the original recipe in the link for the filling quantities. If you make the cheesecake in an 8 inch tin, then increase everything by 50%. If making a 9 inch cheesecake then you'll need to double  the quantities.

Polka Dot Cheesecake inspired by a Maida Heatter recipe 
55 grams unsalted butter 
1 tbs caster sugar 
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup plain flour  
1½ tbs cocoa
Pinch salt

500g cream cheese
1-tbs yoghurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 large eggs
½ cup caster sugar
30g dark chocolate, melted
1 tsp cocoa powder, sifted

50mls cream
¼ tsp espresso powder
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C, butter a 17cm-diameter spring form cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and creamy. Sift the flour with the cocoa and salt into a small bowl. Add to the butter mixture and combine until the mixture forms a soft dough. Press the mixture into the base of the greased spring-form tin, bringing it slightly up the sides. Bake 15 minutes or until the base is dry, then cool to room temperature. Once cool, wrap 2 layers of plastic wrap around the base and sides of the tin followed by 2 layers of foil and tie it firmly with a piece of kitchen string (this prevents water seeping into the pan while cooking in the water bath). Otherwise line the base and sides of a regular 17cm tin with baking paper leaving a few cms overhang to use as a handle to remove the cheesecake from the tin.

Lower the oven temperature to 160°C. In a food processor, combine the cheese, sour cream or yoghurt and vanilla extract. Process until the mixture is smooth before continuing. Add the eggs, one at a time. Remove ½ cup of the cheesecake mixture and place in a small bowl. Add the melted chocolate and sifted cocoa powder and beat until smooth. Place in the fridge until needed.

Regrease the sides of the springform pan then pour in the light-coloured mixture. Fit a large pastry bag with a plain 1cm tube. Place the chocolate mixture in the bag. Place the tip of the tube in the centre of the top of the cake, inserting it about 1 cm into the cake. Squeeze out enough of the chocolate mixture to form a perfectly round ball about 1'' wide. There will now be a dark polka dot in the centre of the cake. Then, using the same procedure, squeeze out 6 smaller balls around the rim spacing them evenly. The balls around the rim should be smaller than the one in the centre, and they should not touch each other or the centre ball. If you have some chocolate mixture left over, add it to the centre ball; if you still have some left over, add a bit to each of the other balls.

The top of the cake will not be smooth and level now, but it will level itself during baking. Place the cheesecake into a roasting pan and pour boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the spring-form pan. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour. The cake will still have a slight wobble. Turn the oven off and leave in the oven for about 1 hour to cool. I removed the cake from the water bath after 30 minutes when it was cool enough to remove the foil and plastic wrap and placed it back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Place the cheesecake on a rack and when completely cold, refrigerate overnight. The next day make the topping.

In a small saucepan, heat the cream to boiling point. Stir in the espresso powder and mix until it dissolves. Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl, then pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for a few moments until the chocolate starts to melt. Stir the chocolate until its smooth then put ganache to one side to thicken a little. Reattach the spring-form ring to the base and pour the chocolate ganache over the top of the cheesecake.  Gently smooth with a spatula then gently tap the cheesecake to level the topping. Allow the topping to completely set then run a knife around the cake before unmoulding. Keep refrigerated until ready to cut and serve. 

This looks so impressive when cut, so expect to hear lots of oohas and aahs.

See you all tomorrow with another showstopper for your Christmas table.

Bye for now,



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