The Daring Bakers Make Cheesecake…POM & Blackberry and Caramel Pecan Banana

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
What can I say about cheesecake? I grew up with a mother who loved to make them. And she was good. The richer the better. You always hear of these quests for the perfect cheesecake. When I saw this recipe I thought it was pretty simple compared to the lengths I saw my Mommy go through. But I loved that this challenge opened up the floodgates of variations and creativity. I decided to make mini cheesecakes for my Ladies Easter Brunch. Certain Someone was away and I was cooking for my girlfriends and aunt.
I choose two types of toppings. Recently I received some POM Wonderful in the mail and needed to create some recipes with it. I made a savory one to be posted later, but decided to give the ultimate anti oxidant rush and make a topping with POM and a basket of blackberries I had in the fridge.
I also had a brainstorm later on to make a Banana Caramel Pecan topping. Since my guest had varied tastes , I decided on both since they would be in mini forms.

I used heart shape mini cheesecake forms, and some adorable cupcake papers I found , that are produced in Sweden. Aren’t they beautiful?
I didn’t really account for the size in correlation to the baking. I will admit the cupcakes came out better than some of the heart forms, which were over puffed , cooked,and cracked. Nevertheless, none was wasted , and all were topped. I saved the few cracked ones for myself.
The reactions were very positive with my guests trying to decide which one to try. I enjoyed them myself. I heard the frozen leftovers went over to other relations , and they loved them. I had some excess cream cheese and made a mini one for a coworker as she loved cheesecake. It got beat up in the transport, but she was in hog heaven, or so she told me.
Thank you Jenny for choosing your friends recipe and breaking it down for us in a non complicated , non fussy way. Be sure to check out partners in baking.
POM & Blackberry Topping
1 pint blackberries
1 bottle POM Wonderful Juice
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in a few tsp of water.
Wash berries and dry. Add them to a sauce pan with sugar and POM Juice. Heat to a boil until berries start to burst. Add cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened. Remove from heat.
Pecan Caramel Banana Topping
1 banana
1/2 cups whole Pecans
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan add sugar. Turn heat on and carefully melt until it starts to brown. Do not burn. Reduce heat and add the heavy cream and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat. Add in pecans and set aside to cool.
When ready to top cheescake, slice banana . In a skillet lightly brown the banana in butter on each side. Put caramel pecan mixture on cheesecake and top with sauteed banana.
Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 sticks of cream cheese,
8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
DIRECTIONS: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. 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. 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:
** 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.