Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Goat Cheese & Honey Cheesecake

This pretty tart is NOT my cheesecake. But it's pretty!
Last week, I was talked into entering a company bake-off. And by talked into, I mean a coworker said, hey are you gonna enter the bake-off? And I said oh yeah, I forgot about that. Ok.

The truth of the matter is this: I was not so sure at all that entering the bake-off was such a good idea. As of late, I have simply had too much to do!! In just one week, Robb and I take off for a fun-filled 10 days (TEN DAYS) in sunny Spain. And for the last month and a half, I have been working my tail off to ensure that A) this vacation doesn't make me get woefully behind at work, B) I don't leave any unexpected messes on anyone's desk, and C) I won't think about work AT ALL while I am in Spain. And so, there have been some long hours. And there have been some nights where I woke up in a cold sweat, worried about, like, whether or not the project where you build a coffee table and grow plants inside of it is technically a terrarium or a miniature greenhouse, and if the latter, will all of the plants die if they don't have drainage?

What a silly thing to lose sleep over! But these, I'm afraid, are the things that haunt me.

And so, it was with some sort of foolish combination of energy and enthusiasm that I agreed to enter last week's company bake-off.

The contest was pie-themed! But unfortunately, pies are not really my forte. Because Robb wasn't around to make my pie crust (he is MUCH better at pie crusts than I am), and because no fruit, except like quince, is in season right now, I decided to make a cheesecake. A goat cheese and honey cheesecake, with a strawberry swirl on top.

This is my cheesecake! Sort of pretty.
I'll just cut to the chase right now. It didn't win. But think about it: when is cheesecake EVER the bake-off winner? (Stupid, stupid, stupid...always make chocolate! Always!)

Something else won. Something chocolatey.
I don't think this pie was the winner, but isn't it pretty?
Anywho, about my loser cheesecake. It was not cheap and it was not quick, but it was fabulously awesomely delicious. If you have about 4 hours and $35 to kill, follow these instructions as written and then proceed to devour it while sipping some sort of earthy red wine. Wear a Greek toga and golden underpants for extra fanciness. Super decadent, right?

If you have about 2 hours to kill and you're broke, might I recommend a modification? Cut all of the filling ingredients in half to make a short cheesecake, and just put it right in the fridge once it's cooled. It becomes almost more like a fancy frosted graham cracker cookie, and the richness of the goat-and-cream cheese and sweetness of the honey become a little less overwhelming. (Yes, I'm one of those people that is overwhelmed by cream cheese...and yes, I tend to scrape off half of the goop that comes on bagels...why do they think I need all that? So messy!)

Without further ado, I present to you the non-award-winning adaptation of...

Warren Brown's Honey and Raspberry (er...Strawberry) Cheesecake, from United Cakes of America

For the Graham Cracker Crust:
9 full graham crackers
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/8 tsp salt

For the Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese
16 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup strawberry puree (To make the strawberry puree, bring about a cup of sliced strawberries and a half cup of sugar to a boil. Cool down, blend in a food processor, and set aside.)

Preheat the over to 300 degrees. Grease a 9" x 3" round pan and line the bottom with parchment. (Note that I was too scared to use a spring-form pan--thought it might leak in the water bath!--so I used a shorter cake pan instead. But if you use a spring-form pan and succeed, let me know.)

Crush the graham crackers (a food processor helps) into fine crumbs and toss it with the rest of the crust ingredients. Press it firmly into the pan and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside to cool and leave the oven on.

Put a roasting pan in the oven and fill it about 2/3 full with water.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the cheeses on medium speed to soften them. Reduce the mixer to slow and add the sugar and honey in 2 additions each (about 3 minutes total). Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each to combine. Mix the sour cream, heavy cream, and vanilla together, then pour into the mixer slowly.

Pour the filling into the crust and drizzle about 1/4 cup of strawberry puree on top. Use your fingers to trace a swirly fancy design into the top.

Set the cake pan in the water bath and bake for about an hour. (The center of the cake should be slightly wobbly when you nudge it...that's the best I can describe it...sorry!)

Turn off the heat and leave the oven door ajar for 1 hour. Remove the pan from the water bath and let it cool for another 4 hours. Then put it in the fridge overnight.

Run a spatula around the edges to loosen it and plop it onto a plate for serving. Eat it!

(And if you're making the cheater version, bake it for the full hour so it really cooks through, but just pull it out of the oven and let it cool on the counter for a bit. Then eat it!)


  1. And that would be my Crack Pie next to it.
    Neither a pretty sight nor a winner!

  2. Merle! I meant to tell you. I put a plate full of pie slices in the fridge on bake-off day because for me, noon is just too early to eat eight slices of pie. I forgot all about it, but then the next day around 7pm I remembered all that pie. Your Crack Pie KILLED IT. It was sort of this perfectly crystalized caramel goop...absolutely delicious, and with a sugary power-surge effect not unlike the kids tell me you can get from crack. (Though the PSAs tell me I must point out that crack is whack.)

  3. Liana! Always chocolate for the bake-off! Do you want to be a winner or not???

    OK, I'm not a cheesecake fan (totally with you on the too-much-cream-cheese factor), but I could get behind a $35 goat cheese version. I could also get behind eight slices of pie on a plate...