Tuesday, July 5, 2011

maple and mascarpone cheesecake with walnut shortbread

I did everything I could to mess this dessert up, and I was unable to.

First of all, the recipe says to reduce some maple syrup by two-thirds over low heat. I decided to try to do this despite the fact that maple syrup is basically straight sugar, and anytime I apply heat to sugar, bad things happen. Bad, burned, bitter things.

But I decided I was going to follow the recipe, and not my better judgment.

I put the maple syrup on the stove, over low heat, for the prescribed amount of time. And what happened?

Bad, burned, bitter things.

I got more syrup and decided to skip the reduction step and just accept that it might be a little less maple-y, which I am sure is a word.

Next, I tried to decide whether I wanted to halve the recipe or not. We were going to need four, and the recipe said it made eight. I thought about it hard, consulted a Magic 8 ball and decided that it would probably not be a problem having some extra mini cheesecakes around the house. Full recipe it is.

The recipe said it makes eight cakes cooked in 4-ounce ramekins. My "ramekins" were 8-ounce muffin trays. I thought this might tend to lower the yield. Maybe I would only get six? Maybe karma was taking care of me?

I got 17.

I went back to the recipe to figure out what I had done wrong, and figured out a mistake I made that accounted for part of that whacked yield.

The recipe called for 1 1/2 pounds of mascarpone, and 1 1/2 cups of cream cheese. I missed the different measures, and used 1 1/2 pounds of each, and it turns out 1 1/2 pounds of cream cheese is way more than 1 1/2 cups. I decided not to start over after that mistake, and just accept the cakes in whatever messed up, distasteful state they came out in.

But they were awesome.

The maple that I didn't reduce was used to flavor heavy cream, that was the sauce for the cake, and it tasted fine. I suspect my flubs impacted the texture of the cake, but not in a way that led to complaints.

The cookies were standard shortbreads, except that much of the flour was replaced with ground walnuts. To serve, I cut some up and sprinkled them over the cheesecakes.

This is one of the desserts we had in the great NYC Dessert Blizzard of '11. Despite all the screwups I made, I thought that the flavors were dead on. The texture was a little different. Mine was a little more dense. But I would make this again. And again. Maybe I'll even try to make it the right way.

Up next: jellyfish salad

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