Rhubarb Cheesecake & How NOT to Make One

I wanted it to be killer.  I wanted to come out of the gate with a bang.  I wanted to reel you back in with drool worthy pictures and tantalizing descriptions.  I failed.

For the past month or so I’ve been elbow deep in weddings, beer fests, work and the like. It was my sincere hope to break the silence with a week of posts and recipes dedicated to one of my favorite early summer veggies – the mighty and glorious rhubarb.  And man, I wanted to crush it with this first post.

Was the problem a random recipe I found and thought sounded amazing? Nope.  How bout a girl in her kitchen who thought she could go into autopilot because she’s made 100 or so cheesecakes in her lifetime? Yep!  I got cocky kids.  I took for granted that every cheesecake needs the most tender and proper care to yield perfect results.  I took a turn to Cheesecake Town and forgot to abide by the laws of the land.

One of the things that endears me to other food blogs is hearing about the misses just as much as the hits, so that’s what I’m doing here today.  Cooking is nothing if not trial and error, and lately it seems, I’m encountering more error than not.  I’m certain though, that by learning what not to do, it’s far more valuable than cooking that comes out perfect on the first try.

So what went wrong?  First, the filling is so dense and makes so much that the cook time is much longer for this than others I’ve made.  This means the top of the cake will be exposed to heat for longer, meaning, constant darkening to the top.  I noticed this about halfway through and covered it with tin foil immediately.  Two, I forgot to spray said foil so that it wouldn’t stick to the top of the cake.  Three, water evaporates quickly in such high temperatures.  The water needs to be checked and maintain at halfway up the side of the pan.  After two hours she was nowhere near her giggle/firm mark, but as soon as I paid attention to the water level, she started cooking properly.  Four, and most importantly, I did not ensure that no water was getting into the cake.  You need to make that foil cover every inch and as impenetrable as Fort Knox.  All the way around, all over the bottom – go overboard!

Having said all this – make this cake.  The flavor and texture is awesome.  Bitter zing from the rhubarb pairs beautifully with the luscious white chocolate and cream cheese.  I even enjoyed the crust, and I’m never a graham cracker crust gal.  This recipe requires nothing more than butter and crumbs – perfect.

So what about this week of rhubarb recipes… it rages on my friends.  I will not be defeated by a silly cheesecake and it’s needy baking procedure!

Rhubarb Cheesecake

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, chopped

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

8 ounces white baking chocolate

2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 20 squares)

1/3 cup butter, melted

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

16 ounces sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

Whipped cream (optional)

White baking chocolate curls (optional)

Mint leaves (optional)

Directions:

For sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, 1/3 cup sugar and orange juice. Bring just to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes or until rhubarb is tender, stirring occasionally; set aside.

In a heavy small saucepan, melt white chocolate baking squares over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

For crust: In a medium bowl, combine graham crackers and butter. Press crumb mixture onto the bottom and about 1-1/2 inches up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap outside of the springform pan securely with heavy foil. Set aside.

For filling: In a very large bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and salt with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Gradually beat in melted white chocolate until combined.

Pour half of the filling into crust-lined pan. Spoon 1 cup of the rhubarb sauce over the filling, spreading evenly. Top with remaining filling. Spoon remaining rhubarb sauce over filling. Using the back of a spoon, gently swirl the rhubarb mixture into the filling.

Place springform pan in a large roasting pan. (Make sure there is at least 1 inch between springform pan and edges of roasting pan.) Place roasting pan on oven rack. Carefully pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of springform pan.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until edge of cheesecake is firm and center appears nearly set when lightly shaken. Check water level every 30 minutes, adding more water if needed. Carefully remove cheesecake pan from water bath; transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes. Remove foil. Loosen cheesecake from sides of pan by carefully running a knife around the edge of the pan. Cool cheesecake for 30 minutes more. Remove sides of pan and cool completely. Cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours before serving.

If you like, just before serving, pipe rosettes of whipped cream on the top of the cheesecake and garnish with white baking bar curls and mint. Cut into wedges.

From Midwest Living

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