I joined the daring kitchen last month and have been patiently (okay so maybe not so patiently) waiting for my 1st challenge. I was sooooooooooooooo excited to see that Jenny from Jenny Bakes chose a basic cheesecake recipe (one of our most favorite desserts around here), courtesy of her very good friend Abbey T., who has tweaked and played with the recipe. She has made many variations, and anyone who knows her knows to ask her to bring a cheesecake!

The real challenge this month is to take this basic recipe and play with it. Make it unique. Make a showstopper of a dessert. Add flavor, sauces, decorations – dress it up and show it off. She allowed for almost any flavor modification within the basic recipe (alcohol, lemon juice, vanilla), changes for dietary needs, and you can also experiment with the crust (graham crackers not essential). And then what you do on top – you have free reign here.


2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (I used a combination of vanilla wafers and ginger snaps)
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tablespoon liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake (I used a combination of rum and maple)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath. I have never had any luck with a water bath and have this awesome water tight spring form pan so opted out of the water bath.
  • Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.
  • Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
  • Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
  • Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
  • I served it with my Caramel Sauce. YUMMY!

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil “casserole” shaped pans from the grocery store. They’re 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

final blog signature.


I have never heard of actually putting the cheesecake in a water bath. I do, however, put a big pan of water on the bottom shelf of the oven while mine bakes on the top shelf. It’s interesting to realize how many ways there are of making the same dish. No matter what, though, cheesecake is a dish of the gods!


Rum and maple is a great combination. Your cheesecake looks delicious! Congratulations on your first challenge (this was my first one, too! I can’t wait for May!!)