For Peyton's "Sweet Sixteen" birthday dinner she stayed true to form and just like last year chose an Asian themed meal and CHEESECAKE for dessert. She was a little concerned that they weren't the most natural of pairings, but I assured her that on your birthday there are no rules. If the little nutbag she wanted sushi and cheesecake for her birthday feast, then an East meets West mash-up it would be.
As a main meal she chose a very specific menu of crab spring rolls, shrimp summer rolls, chicken gyoza, and some terrific sushi. For dessert, she struggled to come up with a cheesecake flavor and so left me to my own devices. All she said was that she wanted to try something new, but beyond that I could surprise her.
I hate that kind of pressure.
Thankfully I recalled a conversation we had some time ago when she asked if I'd ever heard of such a thing as a "creamsicle" cheesecake, you know, one that was a mix of orange and vanilla and tasted like the famed ice cream pop sold from your friendly neighborhood ice cream truck. I told her that I'd never come across one, but would keep my eyes and ears open for her. So, when she threw down the "you get to choose by birthday cheesecake" gauntlet a few days back, I knew exactly what I would try to create for her, her dream of a "creamsicle" cheesecake.
After a bit of searching around, I came across this recipe from the blog Playing with My Food, by Chef Chaz French. Of all the variations on a theme that I found in my search, Chaz's recipe sounded the most natural, and in keeping with the traditional flavors of a creamsicle. I'll admit, the 1/2 cup of Cointreau gave me pause, only because I was concerned that the alcohol might put-off all the kids eating the treat. In the end I shouldn't have worried, as this cheesecake was light and delicious, voted a grand-slam by all at the birthday feast, and ranked "best ever" by the birthday girl, herself.
Cheers – Steve
for the crust:
- 1 1/2 cups (5 oz) finely ground graham crackers or ginger snap cookies
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- zest of one orange, finely minced
for the filling:
- 2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup Cointreau
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup sour cream
for the crust:
- Heat the oven to 350℉
- Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 9" spring form pan. Chill for 1/2 hour to set the melted butter, and then pre-bake the crust for about 12 minutes in the pre-heated oven to ensure a nice crisp crust. Let cool before filling with cream cheese filling.
for the filling:
- Set the oven temperature to 275℉ and make sure the rack is in the center.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, sugar and sour cream until well combined and very smooth. Add the Cointreau, vanilla and orange extracts, and the heavy cream, then add the salt and mix well to fully incorporate.
- Slowly add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Once they have all been added, continue to mix on medium speed for another minute or two.
- Place the spring form pan on top of a rimmed baking sheet, then pour the filling over the baked crust in the pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours (mine took 1:55) until the edges are set, but the very center jiggles slightly (like Jello). Don't worry too much if your cake souffles a bit when baking. Mine did, but then settled nicely (without a single crack on its surface) once it had fully cooled.
- Place the cake on a cooling rack, allow to cool 35-40 minutes, then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen. Allow to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge to fully set. remove from the fridge 30-60 minutes before serving.