Monday, October 20, 2008
Mario Batali's Lemon Goat Cheese Cheesecake
Q: Goat cheese cheesecake? That sounds weird. Does it taste goaty?
A: The goat flavor is indiscernable in the final cake. It's rich and creamy and complext, but not goaty. Trust Mario Batali, won't you?
Q:What are you, some kind of cheesecake expert?
A: Hardly. This was the first cheesecake I've made in my life.
Q: Isn't it pretty complicated?
A: Actually, no. I've always been intimidated, which is why it's taken me this long to try. Cheesecake: the final frontier. But it turns out it's pretty much mix, pour, bake. You just need a lot of goat cheese.
Q: But don't I need some kind of fancy stand mixer?
A: Uh, yes? Feel free to buy me one. (Actually, you don't need one for this, really. I did it with a cheapo electric hand mixer and a good ol' spatula. You need two big bowls. I'm not sure I'd attempt it without the hand mixer though, unless you're pretty buff.)
Q: What about the water bath? And that weird pan with the sides that come off? How do you keep the cake from falling out of that weird pan?
Springform pans are actually pretty neat. I bought a "no-leak" one with a little rim around the bottom which supposedly keeps the batter from leaking out and the water from leaking in. It worked beautifully. You place the filled pan into a larger baking pan (my roasting pan was the only thing big enough) and put some water in it. Then just place in the oven without tipping the water out...no worries! When the cake is done, it rests a bit and then the whole pan, sides and all, goes in the fridge. There, the cake actually shrinks away from the sides a little, so it's no big deal to remove them by loosening the little latch (/spring). Easy as...cake. The bottom won't fall out as long as the latch is tight, I promise.
Q: Would this work for a dinner party? I bet my guests would be pretty impressed.
A: Better than you can even imagine—this actually really benefits from resting overnight in the fridge. It condenses a bit, and the flavors mingle, and I think it may have actually gotten creamier the second day.
Lemon Goat Cheese Cake
Mario Batali (Babbo Cookbook)
1 1/4 cups sugar, plus more for the pan
6 eggs, separated
1 1/2 pounds fresh/soft goat cheese (Mario prefers Coach Farm. I think his wife's family owns that dairy. I used a giant log from East Village Cheese that was certainly not that fancy and cost $2.99/pound. This is a LOT of goat cheese. Seriously, more than you've ever seen in one place before.)
2 tablespoons light rum
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (this actually took 3 small lemons for me, so buy accordingly.)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh raspberries for topping. (I skipped these but I'd bet they'd be delicious. And would make for better photographs.)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spray an 8-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle the bottom and sides with sugar, shaking out the excess. (Maggie's note: I used a smear of butter instead of spray, and a 9-inch springform, which worked totally fine.)
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat the egg yoks and 1 cup sugar until the yolks are very pale. Slowly beat in the goat cheese, one cup at a time. Add the rum, flour, lemon zest, 1 T of the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and beat until creamy.
3. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites (I used the hand mixer) with a pinch of salt until foamy. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue whisking until you have a soft-peaked meringue. Working in two batches, gently fold the whites into the cheese mixture. Do not overmix.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan in a baking dish (or roasting pan) large enough to contain it comfortably. Pour enough hot water into the baking dish to reach approximately 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Cover the entire bakin dish with aluminum foil and carefully place it on the middle rack of the oven.
5. Bake for 35 or 40 minutes, or until the cake begins to rise slightly and is somewhat set. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the cake looks set. Remove the cake/baking dish from the oven and allow the cake to cool IN the bakign dish for several minutes.
6. Meanwhile, combine the remaining lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil rapidly for one minute, or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
7. When the cake has cooled sligtly, remove the pan from the baking dish. Refrigerate the cake until completely chilled. Remove the sides of the springform pan, then spoon the lemon syrup over the cake to glaze. (We chilled the cake overnight with the glaze on it, allowing the lemony goodness to soak in. This REALLY is better served a day later.) Cut into wedges and serve with berries.