Need help with my cheesecake.

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by kim_wicked, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. kim_wicked

    kim_wicked

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    Alrighty, so I'm making small individual pear-ginger cheesecakes. My first attempt I crushed up some ginger snap cookies for the base, made a basic cheesecake mix, then added some minced ginger and pear puree, and baked until set. Unfortunately, the base turned out soft, and the pear and ginger were lost. It was also fairly wet, despite being set... I think that was from the moisture in the puree.

    So, I have some ideas, and I'm open to any suggestions you fine fellows have, too. My ideas are to puree some pears, dehydrate the puree, then process it into a powder, and mix that with some fresh puree... hopefully that'll boost the pear taste. I'm also going to use powdered ginger in addition to fresh. I think I'll brulee the top, as well.

    If I were to replace half the cream cheese with ricotta, would that tone down the cheese taste? And if I were to make a softish ginger snap cookie, and keep it whole as the base, would it keep it's chewiness, or would it go soft? I could layer the cheesecake... so it would go base, cheese, pear, cheese, pear, cheese, then top it with a pear fan... Would that prevent it from cooking through?

    Sorry for all the questions!!! And thanks for any answers! :)
     
  2. amazingrace

    amazingrace

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    You might try making the standard cheesecake, using the gingersnap crust. Then when the cakes are finished baking, top them with thin pear slices that have been poached in ginger infused syrup. And yes, I think you could replace up to half the cream cheese with ricotta.
     
  3. just jim

    just jim

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    Did you pre-bake the base or pour the filling onto it right after you pressed it in?
    I would crush the cookies to powder, moisten with melted butter, press into pan/form, then bake until dry and set.
    This should keep the base from becoming "lost".
    I think candied ginger would be a good idea for this cheesecake.
    Some of the larger produce companies also sell fruit purees, or you may have luck online.
     
  4. kim_wicked

    kim_wicked

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    I did prebake the crust, and let it cool before I put the mix ontop. So I'm still confused as to why it went soft. :S

    And I think candied ginger would be very nice with it. Thanks for the suggestions! :)
     
  5. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    The general plan of dessicated pureed pear probably won't work. In order to make plain puree work, you'd probably need a fair bit of flour to hold the fruit, creamcheese, and egg together. I've never done it though, and am not sure.

    If you want to tone down the cheese flavor, going with ricotta probably won't be entirely successful. It will do several things. One, it will make the cake lighter, which isn't necessarily desirable; and two, it will also make the cake grainy -- which almost certainly isn't the way you want to go. That is, unless you're making a crostata ricotta which is desirable but different thing. Furthermore, while ricotta doesn't have a lot of cream-cheese tang it does have its own cheesy flavor.

    More or less the same thing is true with cottage, farmer's, hoop cheese, and queso fresco. It's not that any of them aren't good in cheesecakes -- it's more that it doesn't seem the direction you want to go in.

    You'd be better off going with something milder like mascarpone or extra egg and cream.

    As to why your other crust was going soggy -- there are a lot of possibilities -- but you didn't give enough information about your baking technique (water bath? double foil?) to hazard a guess.

    In terms of making a pear cheesecake, I think the most direct way to get pear into the cake is to use a liqueur or even an extract. The liqueur might be too subtle for you. I've never used pear extract myself, but it scares me a little.

    I think you're better off pre-baking a nut crust with almond and hazelnut; baking a NY style vanilla cheesecake on top of that; then doing a baked or preserved pear topping, pre-cooked if necessary, and added to the cake after it's baked. The crust will act as a sort of frangiapane which should play very nicely with the pears. You might even use a little cognac in the cake in order to do a play on pear liqueur.

    Frankly, this is all sounding very good.

    Good luck with your project, and please keep us informed with your progress.

    BDL
     
  6. dillonsmimi

    dillonsmimi

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    Pear has a mild flavor...no doubt it got lost. Try OP suggestion and garnish after baking...or check out Lorann flavorings. Found on Amazon and in most cake supply stores. They make a great pear flavoring...very concentrated. One other thing, BDL mentioned it...baking is an exact science and in order to add something you must adjust other things to rebalance your recipe.
     
  7. chris.lawrence

    chris.lawrence

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    I can shed some light on your wetness; its simply not stable enough, this is mainly because the puree coagulates the proteins in the eggs and therefore doesn't bind to the liquid.

    I would reccomend a stabiliser; any starch would help. But my personal favourite in this situation is a hydrocolloid known as Xanthan. In low concentrations it'll have very little effect on the texture, but it'll bind the water and prevent weeping.

    And as ricotta is an acidified cheese, it doesn't melt, it merely pushes out the moisture when it gets hot- so that'll make it much wetter!
     
  8. shechef

    shechef

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    There are some good suggestions here. I make a lot of cheesecake and if you used a basic cheesecake recipe, but added the liquids of the pear puree and the ginger and you did not increase the egg or remove a like amount of creamcheese mixture to compenstate, then you did not adjust the quantities enough for a more firm set, which is what we look for in a cheesecake.

    The number one rule of baking is to keep the percentages the same when you change any ingredients. Adding moist ingredients without removing an equal quantity of moist ingredients will not yield a desirable result.

    I'm guessing your cheesecake would have been better with an additional egg yolk. Try finely chopped, candied ginger peel and make your own pear puree from pears poached in simple syrup with lemon juice and some anise. It will enhance the flavor of the pears enough to make them "show."
     
  9. kim_wicked

    kim_wicked

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    Well the recipe called for one and a half eggs (I was making a half recipe), and figured with the liquid from the puree, I should take out he half egg. I'm guessing that was the wrong way to adjust the recipe. Haha.

    Thanks for the help everyone! And I'm definately going to try poaching the pears with anise. Sounds fantastic. :)
     
  10. mr.pastry

    mr.pastry

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    Kim: The eggs are your binder and emulsifier - if anything consider increasing slightly, but too much and your cheese cake will crack.

    The crust is soft because your gingersnap cookies have too much sugar for this application and draw moisture from the cheese cake. Use a regular graham crumb, and/or cake crumb, mixture and jazz it up with powdered ginger, a bit of cinnamon, and a dash of chili powder.

    If there is any milk or cream in the recipe, that is what you want to remove in place of the puree. The pear flavor will best be produced using a natural flavor, which would ideally need to be fat soluble for this, or a pear emulsion concentrate.

    As far as replacing a portion of the cheese to tone down that characteristic cream cheese flavor, adding some sour cream in place of cheese (5 - 10%), or if you can find Quark, you replace up to 25% of the cheese easily.

    Xanthan can work pretty good in many cases, and it is an ingredient in your cream cheese probably any way. Keep in mind these gums are pretty powerful, and hydrate fairly slowly - more like a swelling process. At what point you add the gums can matter too, if you are doing a lot of mixing, as shear can counter the binding effects, and its all soup again. Most of the time in these types of applications, xanthan is used together with carboxy-methol-cellulose (spelling?) called CMC gum, or sometimes guar gum. This improves texture in the finished product.