Saturday, April 18, 2015

Scoopable Baked Cheesecake

Scoopable Baked Cheesecake. One of my best brainstorms.

I think one of the origins of this brainstorm is actually the Cooking Channel's Unique Sweets show. They featured this place that served ice cream, I think, (maybe it was just frozen yogurt) but they also served home made Greek yogurt topped with various toppings. The one that I was thinking of around the time I thought of this recipe was a key lime yogurt: a scoop of Greek yogurt with a lime curd topping and graham cracker crumbs. So I guess that got me thinking about other things you could scoop and put toppings on that you normally don't think of. Then I thought about the four bars of cream cheese in my fridge, and I thought a cheesecake would be a good way to use a couple. THEN I thought about what a pain in the rear it is to work up a water bath for a cheesecake baked in a spring form pan, and then I thought of this: crustless cheesecake baked in a casserole dish that you refrigerate and scoop out with a cookie scoop into a lace cookie bowl or a dish with whatever bottoms and toppings you might like. So this is it. And it WORKS. Wonderfully. It's a fabuous, simple cheesecake filling that my guests and I got to customize with various bases and toppings: graham cracker lace cookie bowls (recipe below), graham cracker crumbs oven-toasted with a little butter (5 crumbled graham cracker sheets tossed in about 2 tablespoons of butter and toasted in a 375 degree oven for 5 minutes), homemade lime curd, chocolate ganache, fresh strawberries (my favorite), and a mixed berry compote (not sure if that's the right name, but you get the idea).

You can serve tiny portions or larger ones. If you turn it into a cheesecake sundae bar like I did, guests can make 2 or 3 little servings in order to try various combinations. I'm even thinking about serving it with chopped candy bars or crumbled chocolate chip cookies next time. Heck, I've even thought about making a cheesecake and cookie sandwich out if it.

Just so you know, scooping baked cheesecake is not quite as "clean" as scooping ice cream. I ended up with relatively large quantities stuck to the back side of the scoop, so after I was done scooping, I had to use my finger to scrape it off the back. Then of course, I had to clean my finger by licking the cheesecake off. Yeah. Pretty messy.

Scoopable Baked Cheesecake

Cheesecake Ingredients:
  •   2 8oz. cream cheeses @ room temperature
  •   2 eggs @ room temperature
  •   2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  •  ½ cup sugar
  •  ¼ cup heavy cream
  •  ¼ cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Prepare a water bath in a roasting pan or other high-rimmed baking vessel that can hold your cheesecake dish and allow for at least 3 inches water all around. Place water bath pan into preheating oven and fill with hot water about halfway up. (You could fill it and then place it in the oven, but you have to be very, very careful when transferring it to the oven.)

Cream the cream cheese until smooth.  Add sugar and beat until smooth.  Beat in eggs, sour cream, and vanilla bean paste.  Stir in the heavy cream until incorporated. Pour into a medium sized baking/casserole dish, keeping in mind that the cheesecake will almost double in height as it bakes. Place cheesecake dish into the middle of the water bath in the preheated oven. Add more hot water until the water level is 1/2 to 2/3 up the side of the cheesecake dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until the center is set. Carefully remove just the cheesecake dish first and set it on a cooling rack. The remove and dump the water from the water bath vessel. Allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature before transferring it to the refrigerator to cool at least overnight. For the first few hours of refrigeration, place a paper towel on top of the cheesecake dish, and then place a wooden spoon across the top to keep the paper towel in place. (Cooling with the paper towel prevents condensation as the cheesecake cools.) After cheesecake is chilled, you can cover tighly with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

To serve, use a spring-action cookie/ice cream scoop to scoop out portions of cheesecake. You can serve it as is, with toppings, with various crusts (graham cracker, Oreo, or other cookie bits). I served this batch first with graham cracker lace cookies and then with graham cracker crumbs oven-toasted with a little butter. The possibilities are endless.

Makes 16-24 servings*, depending on serving size

*You can easily multiply this recipe by 1.5 or 2. Just make sure you adjust the size of the dish and the bake time. I make a 1.5 x recipe for a group of 16 teenagers, and I checked it in the oven after 45 minutes, and then ended up baking another 10-15 minutes, until there was just a jiggle under the surface in the middle--no liquid look on the surface. It was perfet and the whole thing got eaten.

Graham Cracker Lace Cookies (Note that this part of the recipe is NOT gluten free.)
     --adapted from
     --These are almost candy-like in their crunchiness. The cheesecake looks cute in them, but I did not enjoy them as much as I enjoyed the graham cracker crumbs oven-toasted with butter.

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Get a non-stick muffin pan out as well and set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugars, corn syrup and salt. Mix until smooth. Remove from heat and add graham cracker crumbs. Using a measuring teaspoon, scoop teaspoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Only do about 6 cookies at a time because they spread so much. Bake cookies for about 6 minutes at 375 degrees. When cookies are slightly darker brown around the edges, remove pan from oven. 
Slide the parchment onto a cooling rack and carefully & quickly use a spatula to remove cookies. Gently push them into the cups of the non-stick muffin pan. If they cool off and solidify too quickly, place them back on the pan and into the oven briefly (30 seconds or so), until they are again pliable. This part is tricky and may take some practice. I've also heard of people turning the muffin pan upside down and placing lace cookies on top of the upside down cups, which will produce a wider-rimmed little cup, but it will work fine.

Makes about 20 cookie cups

I realized too late that I should have taken a pic of the water bath. I hope this helps.

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