Thursday, August 6, 2009

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cheesecake

I've been extremely lucky my whole life. I was born into an amazingly supportive and loving family. I was raised with good values and morals, but was also allowed to spread my wings, be independent and find things out on my own. And aside from my family and the environment I've grown up in, I've also been extremely lucky to find friends that I don't deserve.

Not to toot my own horn anything... but my friends are seriously some of the best people around. Not only are they loving and supportive like my family... but they're dependable and stable, they put up with my fickle and moody nature. I mean, I gotta be honest with you folks... I am a hard person to love. I'm stubborn and fiercely independent, at times. I am a complete contrarian and will assuredly change my mind just when you think you've gotten me figured out. I can be extremely private, which I'm sure makes people feel isolated from me. I try to keep my true feelings to myself as much as possible. I mean, damn. I wouldn't be friends with me.

But, despite these things... I still have some really kick ass friends (I guess having a baking blog doesn't hurt).

My friend Sara had a birthday back in June. Sara is one of those friends that you wish you could freelance out. Like... I feel fairly confident in saying that if a lot of bad people in the world had a friend like Sara, they wouldn't be so bad. All my friends are great in their own ways... but Sara is definitely the friend that I can depend on. If it were 2am and I was stuck on the side of the road in Alaska and I could only make one phone call... I would call Sara. Because it wouldn't matter that she was 1000s of miles away. Regardless of the fact that I might not have talked to her in 2 months, I could rest assured that she would do whatever it was that I needed and THEN SOME.

She is also loyal beyond belief. I know without a doubt, that we could have had the biggest argument of our lives.... but if someone else tried to badmouth me. She'd be standing up for me. Now, that, is loyalty, my friends.

But, I don't want it to sound like I'm just using her for her dependability and her loyalty. Oh no... I also use her for comic relief. She is hysterically funny and she's up for anything. She'll go and do practically anything you want. She's always up for a shopping trip, a car ride, a dinner, a drink, a walk. As long as her schedule is clear... she's good to go.

So, for her birthday, I wanted to make her whatever she wanted. And what she wanted... was White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cheesecake. This request immediately reminded me of one of our favorite past times in college: watching Golden Girls. Sara and I always say that when we're old and gray we're going to move down to Florida and live together. We're going to smoke cigarettes and drink whiskey all day, eat cheesecake and walk around in moo-moos and flip flops. Cheesecake was the perfect choice for her birthday.

I didn't have a specific recipe for that variation of cheesecake, so I set off to adjust the Dorie Greenspan Cheesecake recipe that I adore. Hopefully she enjoyed it at least half as much as I've enjoyed her friendship.

Happy Birthday, Sara!

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say thank you for being a friend.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cheesecake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

This is adapted from my favorite cheesecake recipe. It's creamy, rich and dense.

Ingredients
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
4 ozs of white chocolate melted and cooled.
chopped macadamia nuts for garnish

Procedure

To make the crust:

Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.

Stir the crumbs, nuts, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don't worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn't have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the cheesecake:

Put a kettle of water on to boil.

Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the heavy cream. Turn off your mixer and pour in the cooled melted white chocolate. Stir into the batter with a rubber spatula.

Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven's heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.

Serving:
Remove the sides of the springform pan— I use a hairdryer to do this (use the dryer to warm the sides of the pan and ever so slightly melt the edges of the cake)—and set the cake, still on the pan's base, on a serving platter. Adorn the top of the cheesecake with the chopped macadamia nuts. The easiest way to cut cheesecake is to use a long, thin knife that has been run under hot water and lightly wiped. Keep warming the knife as you cut slices of the cake.

Storing:
Wrapped well, the cake will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or for up to 2 months in the freezer. It's best to defrost the still-wrapped cheesecake overnight in the refrigerator.

7 comments:

glossymar said...

Love your blog! This dessert looks fabulous.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know I made this cheesecake last night for Christmas dessert. Found it via Google, searching for something extra special. It was absolutely delicious. Got five stars from all seventeen people, probably about half of which complained they didn't even like cheesecake and I had to make them taste it. I did serve it drizzled with homemade caramel sauce, which really put it over the top, but the pie itself was obviously just immaculate. Hats off, and thanks for posting.

Jess said...

I have made this recipe at least 10 times! My family and friends love it! I have added macadamia nuts to the batter, and I also swirl caramel, white chocolate morsels, and crushed macadamia nuts on top! It's delicious!!! Thank you for sharing your recipe! :)

kamagra said...

Nice photo, it reminded me my mother and I, specially after having an special dinner, I think that with this recipe my mother and I will have an special moment to share together.m10m

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing recipe!I have now made it 3 times and everyone raves and asks for me to make it. I am now going to give it a try for Thanksgiving and do pumkin instead of the white chocolate - modfiying it a bite but I think her techinque with the foil and the water is what makes the difference. Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

Made this last night followed directions to a t..and it is amazing! Lot of work but worth it..thanks for posting!

Kimberly Carfora said...

Keep coming back for this recipe years after I found it! Best cheesecake recipe ever thank you :)