Daring Bakers: Cheesecake Heaven

Cheesecake with MangoA good friend of mine turned 40 not too long ago and she decided that what she wanted was to have her friends with her to celebrate in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  The plans were made far in advance, and since then so much has happened.  Our house was torn apart by construction.  Immediately afterwards, my sister and her family came to stay for the Holidays.  Then busy season set in for my husband, and before I knew it, the date for our

A good friend of mine turned 40 recently and decided to celebrate by inviting her girlfriends to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a week.  The plans were made seemingly forever ago, but time flies when you’re busy, doesn’t it?  Since that time, we’ve had construction on our house, my sister and her family came to stay during the holidays, and then my husband’s busy season set in as it always does.  From one year to the next, I can never quite figure out how April finally gets here, but it thankfully does.  Normally about this time, my husband and I would be in Las Vegas where he enjoys unwinding for a couple of days, but in the fashion I’ve grown accustomed to in the years we’ve been married, he’s sending me off with good natured smiles  — and threats of taking photos of all he and my son eat while I’m away.  I can’t wait to see that.

This past weekend, we’ve been out and about enjoying the spring weather here, and had friends over for dinner.  Oh, yes — and cheesecake.  Lots and lots of cheesecake.  Now that I think of it, I must have had my almost tropical vacation on my mind when I conjured up these particular cheesecakes and didn’t realize it.  Or maybe it was that mangos have been on sale here.  And strawberries.  They go together quite well, you know, and what a coincidence that it’s time for my Daring Bakers’ challenge.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. Many thanks to her for this delightfully tasty recipe.I’ve grown up with cheesecake. It’s been my favorite birthday cake forever if someone gives me a choice, and I’ve made quite a few myself to boot.  After scanning this particular recipe, I spent more time trying to decide just how I’d doctor it up since the recipe was fairly basic.  I ended up playing around with a variety of sizes, layers, and toppings to entertain myself.   I’d go into more detail, but I’ll have to put that off until I get back from my vacation.

Mangos and Piloncillo Mango Sauce

In a nutshell, I made a mango filling with piloncillo — Mexican brown sugar.   It’s that little cone you seen in the top photo. I  added some cardamom,  fresh ginger, lime, a bit of butter and let it simmer then cool. The crust is baked only briefly — about 5 minutes. The cooled filling is poured on, then the cheesecake batter.

IMG_3394 IMG_3397

I made both tiny and small mango cheesecakes with the only difference being the creme fraiche topping on the tiny ones.  I decided the pistachios were enough for one of the small rounds.  It’s difficult to see, but the mango sauce is the layer right above the crust.

Cheesecake with Mango Filling and Pistachios Cheesecake with Mango Filling and Pistachios

Some of my cheesecakes were topped with creme fraiche. My mom used to make my birthday cheesecakes with sour creme, so I had to make some of them like that, didn’t I?   After the cheesecake is baked, it’s removed from the oven to cool. A topping of creme fraiche, sugar, and vanilla is spread over it, and then baked for an additional 10 minutes.  To finish, I poured on a bit of mango puree, then arranged fresh strawberries.

Mango Puree

Cheesecake with Mango Puree and Strawberries

Cheesecake with Mango Puree and Strawberries

I could go on and on because I actually did spend a bit of time on this challenge with all the variables. I made fresh mango puree to spoon over a plain cheesecake topped with strawberries as well.
I chopped pistachios and topped another cheesecake with those, and sprinkled a few on another just to add a contrasting texture and flavor.

Cheesecake with Mango Filling

There are still three small cheesecakes like the one above in the fridge, waiting to be enjoyed. We’ll see if the guys do anything with them while I’m gone.

Bets anyone?

I’ll tidy this post up when I get back to include the directions and cooking times for my additions to this recipe.  We truly enjoyed this cheesecake which was interestingly fluffy.  A strange way to describe cheesecake, but I’ve never had a baked cheesecake with this texture.  Very light and creamy, but fluffy.  Nice.  Very nice.

(But those strawberries are hiding and exceedingly cracked surface — the worst I’ve ever seen!)

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