Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mango Lime Cheesecake Squares

I've had a hankering to try a good mango cheesecake for awhile, but I my first attempt, based on a recipe from the New York Times Dessert Cookbook, was an unmitigated disaster. The batter was goopy and liquid-y and the finished product tasted more like runny eggs than a decadent dessert. So for the second go-round I started with a proven cheesecake recipe and adjusted it for a new flavour base. The recipe I started with was for Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Cheesecake from The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook (home of the famous Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Recipe). At the risk of sounding like a smug baker, it came together brilliantly. What's so nice about this cheesecake is that it feels very fresh and summer-y. It's got a tart kick that keeps it from feeling too sweet.

Instead of an actual cheesecake I chose to make squares instead. They're so much easier to cut, store and most importantly share! If you want to be a cheesecake purist, you would bake this in a hot water bath, but it's not easy to find a roasting pan that will fit a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Without the water bath, the cheesecake will crack a little on top, but as it cools most of the cracks will close-up. And anything that's left will create a nice rustic look.

2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tbsp brown sugar
10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped
2lbs cream cheese - at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs - at room temperature
zest of 1 lime
Juice of half a lime (can use a whole lime if you want more)
2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

1. Put the rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 325 degrees

2. Cut a piece of parchment paper that will fit on the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking pan - make sure it extends up over 9 inch side a little

3. Stir the graham cracker crumbs together with the brown sugar. Pour if the melted butter and stir it all together until the mixture is moistened and has the texture of wet sand. Pour it into the pan and spread it out over evenly over the bottom, packing it down. Bake for 8 min and then let it cool.

4. Put the mango chunks in a food processor and pulse until you have a puree. Set aside.

5. Using hand or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy (2 minutes or so should do it). Mix in the flour. Lightly beat the eggs with a fork in a small bowl and add in 2 additions - beating just to blend after each one. Mix in the lime zest, lime juice and whipping cream.

6. Add as much of the mango puree as you like to the batter. Start by adding a little and taste test. Keep adding more puree until you find it flavourful enough. I purposely used more mango chunks that I needed so that I had the luxury of choosing how much to add. Because mango puree has a slightly different consistency than strawberries, I was worried the batter would be too runny (and not rise properly) if I added too much. Just to be safe I added a teensy bit more flour after the mango to make sure the batter was thick enough.

7. Pour the batter into the baked crust and bake for 1 hour. The center of the cheesecake should seem firm when given a gentle shake.

8. Cool on wire rack for about an hour and then refrigerate for at least 6 hours before chowing down.

9. To serve, use a small knife to loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan. Cut it into squares and use some time of knife/scraping device to remove them from the pan. If your cutting skills are anything like mine, this process will not go perfectly!

I feel a great sense of pride when I can alter a recipe and create something delicious, especially with baked goods where the smallest miscalculation can ruin a great idea. And the best kind of pride is the kind you can lick off a fork!

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