Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Vanilla Orange Cheesecake (With Booze)

Warning: The following is not a vegan-friendly recipe. While it comes nowhere near the atrocities I've committed against the animal kingdom with bacon, lamb, and other things that make life enjoyable, it nevertheless contains ingredients which are prohibitive to the vegan lifestyle. To ameliorate this, I have taken it upon myself to remove all of the offensive materials and offer you an alternative recipe containing only the ingredients which are allowed by herbivorous epicureans:

1 bottle of your favorite orange liqueur
1 bag of mandarin oranges


Put mandarin orange segments in a container. Drown them in the booze. Wait 4-12 hours. Consume.

Now that we're done with that, we can move on to the actual recipe.

Last month, when I made a Bailey's Irish Cream Cheesecake, I decided I would experiment with a new type of cheesecake every month. As this month is my girlfriend's Birthday, she wanted an orange and vanilla cheesecake. Using a wonderfully versatile recipe (thanks to the amazing Judith Tarr), a made some modifications, crossed my fingers a lot, and hoped for the best.

The hardware you will need for this recipe includes:
  • A Food Processor
  • A 9-inch Springform Pan
  • An Oven
  • Measuring Cups/Spoons (optional)

The Crust

Perhaps the easiest part of this experiment, I decided to star off with the following:
One of these things is not just for kids anymore. I'll let you figure out which.
1 Box of Nilla Wafers
2 Tbsp. Butter (softened)
2 Tbsp. Ice Water

Open the box of Nilla Wafers and dump the entire contents into the food processor. Add the butter. Mix on the highest setting until everything is pulverized. Add the ice water as it is mixing to help everything firm up a little bit, so you're not pouring out vanilla sand into your cake pan.

Press the mixture into the cake pan until it evenly covers the bottom. You might want to use the bottom of a sturdy glass to press everything down, or (when diplomacy fails) use your knuckles to make sure the crust is pressed into the edges.

At this point, you can start preheating your over to 325°F

The Cheesecake Part (otherwise you'll just be making a big cookie)

To make the eponymous part of the cheesecake, you will need the following:
Not pictured: 5 large eggs, because the chicken was still in interrogation.
5 (8oz.) Packages of Cream Cheese (softened)
1 and 3/4 C. Sugar
3 Tbsp. Flour
4 Tsp. Vanilla (cruelly extracted) 
1 Tsp. Salt
5 Large Eggs

Put all of the ingredients into the food processor (it truly is a magical machine), and blend everything on the highest setting until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. Now comes the fun part. Into the food processor goes...
About 2 cups of this.
...your favorite orange liqueur! You can use Grand Marnier, Tang mixed with Devil's Springs Vodka, whatever you personally prefer. For the sake of this experiment, however, we bought a nice bottle of Orange X.O.
Always make sure there is enough left over for the chef
Once again, turn up the speed on the food processor until everything is thoroughly blended. When everything is finished, pour everything into the spring-form pan (on top of that cookie crust you made a little while ago). 
Looks...pretty boring, actually. But just wait.
Now that the oven is at the right temperature, you can put the cake in to bake. It takes about one hour and twenty minutes so go off and read, watch something horrible on Netflix, have a drink, or whatever you like doing that fills up this time (I suggest getting half-way through the introduction of your favorite Final Fantasy game).

Now that the time has passed, turn off the oven and peek inside. You should have something that resembles this:
Look! You made a thing!
If your cheesecake looks anything like the above picture, then you did it right! Now leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool as the oven cools. This prevents the cheesecake from splitting and forming giant chasms due to the sudden change in temperature. (Many thanks to my mother for this tip, after I made that very mistake with my first cheesecake.)


As the cheesecake is cooling (for the next 3-4 hours) it's time to prepare the oranges and the glaze that both go on top. For this you will need:

4 Cans of Mandarin Oranges
The Remaining Orange Liqueur
1 Figurative Ton of Honey (give or take one boatload)

Drain the juice from the cans of oranges into a medium sized sauce pan, and dump the oranges in a bowl. 
This image is here just in case you can't follow simple instructions
To the sauce pan, add the remaining orange-flavored booze, and enough honey so that you begin to contemplated how hard the bees worked, and how good exploitation tastes.
Is a honeybee not entitled to its spit? "No," says the man in the kitchen, "It belongs to me!"
Now it's time to pretend you're making caramel. Bring the contents of the sauce pan to a frothy, roiling boil for about 15 minutes. Keep stirring! You don't want this to burn. Rather, you want it to simply reduce and thicken. Turn off the burner and keep stirring as it cools. When you are done, you should have something that looks like this:
Induction: Reduction. Conclusion: Confection.
Now it's time for the Arts and Crafts portion of this experiment. Take the bowl of mandarin orange segments and spiral them outward from the center of the cake. (If you do this from the outside to the center, you will end up with a small mountain of oranges in the middle.)
Almost finished
Finally, pour the glaze on top, marvel at your own prowess, and then stick the cake in the refrigerator to let everything firm up for a bit.
Yes, you are that damn good!
During this time, you might opt to take a nap, read some more, finish that Final Fantasy tutorial so you can figure out which button to press so that a menu pops up on the screen to let you know what all the buttons do, or contemplate your navel. 

After you realize you may have waited too long, remove the cake from the refrigerator, unshackle it from the ring of the spring-form pan, call over those in proximity, and soak up the adulation. Now size up who might give you the greatest praise, or reciprocate in some way, and select that person to receive the first slice. (If you are making this for your significant other''s Birthday, then your motives should be less utilitarian, or it will come through in the taste.)
You know it's good because it's messy.
And there you have it! Vanilla Orange Boozy Cheesecake!

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