Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake

I have committed an unspeakable crime against my bathroom scale: I have made a Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake. As if eating a big slice of cheesecake twice the recommended serving size isn't bad enough I just had to go and layer it with pastry cream, sponge cake, and chocolate topping. Where has all of my sense gone? I blame the holidays. Somehow I'm able to excuse this calorie-laden indulgence simply by saying, "It's the holidays." That's what the holidays are for, right?

When I saw the recipe over at Moogie & Pap I was instantly smitten and determined to make it for myself. Then I scrolled down and saw the instructions. And kept scrolling, scrolling, and scrolled some more because they are incredibly long. Understandable since each distinct layer has to be made separately but it was enough to put me off the idea until I realized that the Christmas presents I got for my family this year mostly stink so I should make up for it with an awe-inspiring dessert. Even so I went back and forth considering how much of my scarce Christmas prep time it would take and it wasn't until I walked out of the grocery store with more cream cheese than I typically use in a year that I was sure I'd make it.

Unfortunately this is not a story of dessert triumph. You'd think that with a recipe like that it would turn out to be the most heavenly dessert ever invented by man but no. It was not to be. While the baking process went smoothly aside from the numerous dishes that needed to be washed the end result was less than stunning. I'm not even talking about the fact that the cake layer shrunk up so much that it's noticeably smaller than the bottom two layers. We all know I'm not concerned about aesthetics as long as my dessert is tasty. Unfortunately, it somehow went wrong during the freezing process and while the cheesecake, cake, and chocolate topping are delicious the pastry cream developed an off-putting texture once thawed. It's edible when eaten with a large dose of the other layers but I chose to remove as much of it as I could before eating my slice. Incredibly disappointing considering how excited I was by the concept and how delicious the individual elements tasted before freezing.

I wish I knew where I went wrong so I could make sure to never repeat the mistake. Perhaps I cooked the pastry cream too long, perhaps I didn't wrap it tightly enough before freezing. Who knows? All I know is that the dessert that was supposed to wow everyone turned out to be useless. Boo. Good thing it's Christmas so I had about five other desserts on hand as backup.

Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from Moogie & Pap

Ingredients for the Cheesecake Layer:
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 & 1/3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream

Ingredients for the Pastry Cream:
1 & 1/4 cups milk (use whole, not 2% or skim)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 extra-large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 drops yellow food coloring, (optional)

Ingredients for the Sponge Cake (1 layer):
1/2 cup sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 extra-large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Ingredients for the Chocolate Topping:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream

To Finish:
Whipped Cream, optional

1. Early in the day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and generously butter the bottom and sides of one 9-inch springform pan and one 9-inch round layer cake pan. Wrap the outside of the springform (but not the cake pan) with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides. Very important: Line the bottom of the cake pan (but not the springform) with parchment or waxed paper (don't let the paper come up the sides).

2. Put one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a couple of times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each. Beat in the cream just until it's completely blended. Be careful not to overmix!

3. Gently spoon the batter into the foil-wrapped springform and place it in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Bake the cake at 350 degrees until the edges are light golden brown and the top is slightly golden tan, about 1 & 1/4 hours. Remove the cake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and cool in the pan for 2 hours, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate (while still in the pan) until it's completely cold, about 4 hours.

4. While the cheesecake is baking, make the pastry cream. Heat the milk, cream, and butter together in a large saucepan over medium-high heat just until it bubbles around the edge, stirring until the butter has melted and is incorporated. Remove from the heat. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together in a large bowl with a mixer on high until the mixture thickens and turns light yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and beat in about 1 cup of the hot cream mixture. Return this to the saucepan, stirring constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and comes to a full boil (watch carefully as this will take only about a couple of minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and food coloring. Immediately transfer to a medium-size bowl (this stops the cooking), place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream (this prevents a skin from forming), and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 2 hours.

5. While the pastry cream chills, make the sponge cake. Check that the oven is preheated to 350 degrees and that the water bath has been removed. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high for 3 minutes. While the mixer is still running, slowly add 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue beating until thick, light yellow ribbons form in the bowl, about 5 minutes more. Beat in the extracts. Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until no white flecks are visible. Blend in the melted butter.

6. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean medium-size bowl and , with clean, dry beaters, beat with the mixer on high until frothy. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form (the whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry). Fold about one-third of the whites into the batter, then the remaining whites. Don't worry if you still see a few white specks -- they'll disappear during baking. Gently spread out the batter over the bottom of the single cake pan and bake until golden (not wet or sticky) and the center springs back when lightly touched, about, 15 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn out onto the rack and gently peel off the paper liner. Let the cake cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

7. When the cheesecake and sponge cake are cold and the pastry cream has set, assemble the cake. Keep the cheesecake in the springform and gently spread the pastry cream over it, using a rubber spatula (avoid stirring the cream at this stage, as you might break its gel). Place the sponge cake, top side up, on the pastry cream. Press down gently. Cover the cake (still in the pan) with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

8. To make the chocolate topping, put the chocolate and corn syrup in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Cool slightly before glazing the cake. Take the cake out of the freezer and, using a long, marrow metal spatula, quickly spread the fudge over the top while it's still in the pan. Using the tip of a pointed knife, push a few drips over the edge of the cake. This gives the cake a finished look. Return the pan to the freezer until the chocolate has set (do not cover), about 30 minutes.

9. (Optional) Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (#2) with the whipped cream. Pipe a white web on top of the cake, making thin lines 3/8 inch apart (don't worry if the lines are a little wavy, as that's a nice homemade touch). Return the cake to the freezer until the web has set, about 30 minutes more.

10. To serve, let the cake stand at room temperature for 10 minutes, then release and remove the ring of the springform, leaving the cake on the bottom of the pan. Place on a serving plate and refrigerate until ready to serve (this cake takes about 2 hours in the refrigerator to thaw enough to easily slice). Use a sharp straight-edge knife to cut it. Refrigerate any leftover cake or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.


Anonymous said...

Okay. I was about to scream because that looked so darn good! But when I read your review, my desire to make this was diminished. Thanks for your honesty! You rock!!!

Lina Thomlinson said...

Honestly, it may have been something I did wrong but I have no idea what. I'd suggest making it without the pastry cream layer as it's stunning and delicious even without it. The cheesecake alone is worth it but when combined with cake and chocolate? Mmmm!