Fancy Cheesecake – It’s Not As Hard As You Think!!
A Fancy Cheesecake is not as hard to make as I thought it would be! I’ve always been intimidated by cheesecakes, until I saw a post from a friend who made his own (Thanks Todd!) – and I thought, maybe I could do this? I’m so glad I did, and grateful to my friend for walking me through it! I’m going to do the same for you so you will have the confidence to try this out. Once you do – you’ll be glad you did!
I made a chocolate peanut butter cheesecake – and will give you instruction on how I did it. Keep in mind that you can substitute ingredients for different flavors such as pumpkin, snickers, strawberry, etc. I’ll be giving you the basic cheesecake recipe, and indicating which ingredients you could switch out for different flavors. For the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake version, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter
- 3 cups crushed Oreo cookies/about an entire package (can switch out for any flavor cream filled sandwich cookies)
- 3 eggs (room temperature)
- 24 oz cream cheese (three 8 oz bricks – room temperature)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter (can switch out for 1 cup of any flavor – pumpkin, strawberry, or leave out for original cheesecake flavor!)
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (can switch out for any flavor, or chopped candy bars, nuts, etc.)
- 1 tsp flour or cornstarch (used to coat chocolate chips, candy, etc.)
- 3 tbsp. heavy cream (I used fat free half and half)
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (can switch out for any flavor chips)
- Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (can switch out for any topping, snickers, nuts, fruit, etc.)
You will also need a spring form pan for your Fancy Cheesecake, along with a large roasting pan for the water-bath method. I used our large turkey pan for this, so if you have one, it will do the trick!
The first thing you’ll want to do is make your crust. Crush the Oreo’s (cream filled sandwich cookies) – cream filling and all. Combine the 1/2 cup of melted butter and crushed cookies until the butter and crushed cookies are well incorporated. Place the crust mixture in the bottom of your spring form pan, pressing down as you go. Spread out evenly to form your crust. You can choose to go a little up on the sides, or just to the edges, however you like your crust! I chose to cover the bottom only.
Note: While your preparing your crust and batter, its a good idea to get your water bath pan ready. Set Oven temperature to 350 degrees, fill your roasting pan with 1.5 inches of water and place in the oven to heat up while your getting your Fancy Cheesecake ready!
Next, you’ll combine your Fancy Cheesecake batter ingredients. Start with the 3 room temperature eggs – once you’ve mixed them up, add 1 brick of cream cheese at a time and mix each until incorporated with the eggs. Once all 24oz of cream cheese has been incorporated and is smooth and creamy with no lumps, include the powdered sugar, peanut butter (or other flavor option), sweetened condensed milk and vanilla to the mix and combine. Luckily, I have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer which made this much easier, but you can certainly use any hand mixer as well!
If you will be including the mini chocolate chips (or other chip flavor or candy bar chunks) you will want to toss them in 1 tsp of flour or cornstarch to give them a nice coating. This will lightly coat them so that they keep their shape and don’t melt into the batter when cooking. Once lightly tossed and coated, you can fold them into the batter mixture.
It’s time to pour the Fancy Cheesecake batter into the spring form pan on top of the crust you’ve already set up. Wrap the bottom and sides of your spring form pan with tin foil. This is an extra level of protection to make sure no water leaks into your pan from the bottom. You are not trying to cover the top of the cheesecake, only the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the Fancy Cheesecake into the hot water bath pan in the oven. YES – put it right into the water! this method will help you avoid cracks across the top of your Fancy Cheesecake!
Baking can take anywhere from 60-90 minutes. After about 40 minutes, check to see how it’s doing – if your oven cooks unevenly, be sure to turn your pan at the 40-60 minute mark. I turned mine once at the 60 minute mark to get it evenly cooked/browned on the top. Be sure to check every 10 minutes or so. After the 40 minute mark, until your top begins to lightly brown and is no longer “jiggly” in the center. Once done, turn your oven OFF. Carefully remove from the water bath pan, remove the foil barrier and dry off the bottom and place back into the oven with the door cracked. After about an hour of cool-down in the oven, you can remove and place on a cooling rack to come to room temperature. Before placing in the fridge, use a knife around the Fancy Cheesecake to separate from the sides of the spring form pan. You can then place into the fridge for at least 4 hours, or… overnight as I did.
Once cooled in fridge for at least 4 hours, you can then add your ganache. This takes about 30 minutes, so leave the cheesecake in the fridge while you’re preparing. This step is so easy… 3 tbsp. of heavy cream (or half & half) and 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (or flavored chips of your choice). Warm up the half & half until it has a little steam, but not boiling – then add the chips and mix them in until melted and combined with the cream. They will melt quickly. I took mine off the heat just before they were all melted, knowing that if I overheated, the mix would clump up and loose that smooth glossiness. Put aside (off of the heat) once combined and let sit for 20-30 minutes to cool. You won’t want to pour hot ganache onto the cheesecake, so you’re letting it get to room temperature before pouring and spreading onto the Fancy Cheesecake. Once room temperature, remove cheesecake from fridge – run your knife around the edge of the pan again to ensure there is no sticking, and POP your spring pan open and remove.
Pour your ganache onto the center of the Fancy Cheesecake and carefully spread over the top. You can then top with nuts, candy bar chunks, fruit… whatever your Fancy Cheesecake flavor preference. I used mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and chopped them in half and sprinkled over the top.
I can’t tell you how PROUD I was of myself and this Fancy Cheesecake! It really wasn’t hard at all. My friends and family were in AWE. They couldn’t believe that I made this and are now requesting their own Fancy Cheesecake. (Mom wants a Snickers Cheesecake for her upcoming Birthday)!
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