Daring Bakers: Cheesecake with Roasted Rum Pineapple and Pineapple Flowers
April 27, 2009
[Elaine] in Daring Bakers, cheesecake, dessert

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes.  She has chosen Abbe's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

For this month's Daring Baker's challenge,  we were supposed to make cheesecake, but do something different and wonderful to it.  I've always wanted to make these pineapple flowers and thought about a roasted pineapple and rum topping I had made a while back for a cheesecake.  So I put the two items together and it made a beautiful cheesecake.  Jenny's recipe didn't call for sour cream or creme fraiche in the recipe, but I do believe it gives a cheesecake a special flavor and I always add it.  
Try to use a real vanilla bean for this.  If you've never used real vanilla beans you won't believe the flavor difference.  Buy good quality vanilla beans and store them in an airtight container in the pantry.  Don't store them in the refrigerator.  They should last about two years.  I've even found real nice vanilla beans at Costco.  If you can't find good quality vanilla beans where you live, you can order them from the Organic Vanilla Bean Company.  
Be sure to cook the cheesecake in a water bath.  It really does prevent the top from cracking.  I cook the cheesecake for an hour, shut off the oven, and leave the cheesecake in there for another hour.   The top never cracks.

Cheesecake with Roasted Pineapple and Pineapple Flowers
for a printable recipe, click here
adapted from Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart magazines

 for the crust
for the filling
for the topping
for the flowers
For the Crust:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Blend all ingredients in a 9" cheesecake pan and press the mixture over the bottom and about an inch up the sides.  Bake until golden, about 12 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and let cool.  Carefully wrap outside of pan with 2 layers of heavy duty foil.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.


For the Filling:  Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy.  Gradually beat in sugar.  Split vanilla bean down the middle with a sharp paring knife.  Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and blend 1 minute.  Beat in eggs 1 at a time and then beat in sour cream.  Transfer filling to crust.  Place cheesecake in roasting pan.  Add enough hot water to the roasting pan so that the water comes up the side of the cheesecake pan about 1 inch.
Bake cheesecake for one hour.  Turn off oven and let cake cool in closed oven for one hour. Remove from water bath and refrigerate, uncovered, until cold, at least 6 hours or overnight. 
For Topping:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place pineapple rings on large rimmed baking sheet.  Boil  remaining ingredients in a small saucepan  for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour syrup over pineapple.  Roast pineapple 12 minutes.  Turn rings over and roast until tender and syrup thickens, turning rings every 5 minutes, about 20 minutes longer.


*(I use a little cookie/biscuit cutter to remove the cores from the pineapple)

 Cool pineapple on sheet.  Cut into small pieces or larger 1/3 inch cubes, whichever you prefer.  Transfer pineapple and syrup to bowl.  (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.)

Drain pineapple, reserving syrup.  Cover top of cheesecake with some pineapple; stir remainder back into syrup.  Serve cake, passing remaining pineapple in syrup separately.
For the Flowers:  Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.  
Peel pineapples.  Using a small melon baller or the eye remover on a vegetable peeler, remove and discard eyes of pineapple.  Slice pineapple very thinly, preferably with a mandoline.  Place slices on baking sheets.  Cook until tops look dried, about 30 minutes.  Flip slices; cook for 30 minutes more.  Flip slices again and cook another 30 minutes more until completely dried. Before the final flip, place a small ball of rolled up tin foil under the "flower" if you would like to mold it to be more of a flower shape.  Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.

tip:  I sliced the first batch of pineapple for the flowers with a knife.  They did not dry out enough, because they were not thin enough.  I don't think you can get them properly thin with a knife. For my second batch, I tried slicing them with my mandoline and they were great.  With the mandoline, I could get them very thin.

tip:  If you use a KitchenAid mixer and you don't know about the new beater blades which eliminate having to scrape down your bowl during mixing, I highly recommend them.  They work great.


Article originally appeared on The Italian Dish (http://theitaliandishblog.com/).
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