Monday, February 3, 2014

Guava Hearts Cheesecake


Love is definitely in the air. Valentine's day is around the corner and the stores won't let you forget it. At least over here they won't. A lot of people I know dread February 14th. That's because of the pressure they feel to spend exorbitant amounts of money to let their partner know that they are loved. My humble opinion is, you should always make the one you're with feel special every day of the year-not just on Valentine's day. And, you don't have to break bank to do it. To me, cooking for someone is an act of love. So if your special someone likes to keep it simple and would appreciate a nice homemade meal on Valentine's day, here's a recipe for a dessert that would be a fantastic end to a meal cooked with love.

SN: A cheesecake is a sweet dessert dish having a firm custard like texture. It's made with cream cheese, cottage cheese or both. It can be baked, or unbaked and can be prepared in many flavors. This recipe is one for a baked cheesecake with guava flavor. The crust is made of crushed vanilla wafers, a shift from the graham cracker crust that I always use to make my cheesecakes. The idea for the look of this cheesecake came to me in a dream-don't ask. Enjoy!

Serving Size: 12 servings.

-Large mixing bowl.
-9-inch springform pan, buttered, and the bottom lined with a parchment paper round (a type of baking pan that has a latch on the side and a removable bottom).
-Spatula or wooden spoon.
-Medium oven-safe dish.
-Rolling pin.
-Large ziplock/food bag.
-Butter knife OR wooden skewer.
-Plastic squeeze bottle OR plastic sandwich bag, with a corner snipped.
-Baking sheet.
-Cooling/wire rack.

Ingredients For The Filling:
-3 packages of cream cheese, at room temperature, 8OZ. each (let it stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using)
-2 cups (16 OZ.) sour cream.
-1 1/2 cups granulated sugar.
-1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature.
-4 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten.
-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
-3 tablespoons cornstarch (corn flour).
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.
-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

Ingredients For The Guava Hearts:

-1/2 cup water.
-1/3 cup guava paste (you can find this in the international/ethnic aisle of the grocery store next to the Hispanic foods). If you can't find guava paste, look for pure guava juice. Cook 2 cups of it over medium heat until a thick paste forms that's enough to fill 1/3 cup. The consistancy of the paste should be like that of ketchup. 

Ingredients For The Crust:
-About 30 vanilla wafer cookies (about 1/2 a bag of vanilla wafer cookies)
-1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (8 tablespoons)
-3 tablespoons granulated sugar.

Instructions For a Making The Crust:
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius).
-If you have a food processor, place your vanilla wafers in it and process the cookies into fine crumbs. If you do not have a food processor, place all your vanilla wafers in a large plastic ziplock/food bag, squeeze to release excess air and zip up the bag. Using a rolling pin, crush the cookies into fine crumbs.
-In a medium bowl, combine the crumbs and sugar. Stir in the melted butter and use your spoon or spatula to combine the mixture. When well combined, the mixture should resemble wet sand. When squeezed in the palm of your hands, it should hold together.
-Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the lined and sprayed springform pan and a little up the sides of the pan. Use the flat bottom of a cup to help you pack down the crumbs into an even layer.
-Place the pan with the crust in the oven for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. Set aside. Turn off the oven.

Instructions For Making The Guava Reduction:
-In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, place the guava paste and water and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Stir often to break down the paste. It'll eventually form a thick liquid that has the consistency of ketchup. At this point, turn the heat off and allow the mixture to completely cool.
-Once cool, place the mixture into the plastic squeeze bottle or sandwhich bag with a snipped tip. Set aside.

Instructions For Making The Cheesecake:
-Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius); fill an oven-safe dish or baking pan with cold water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven as you preheat your oven.
-In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese,sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
-With your mixer on low speed, gradually add in the eggs  and beat just until combined.
-Stir in the sour cream, flour, cornstarch, vanilla and lemon juice. The batter should be thick, smooth and creamy.
-Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Using your plastic squeeze bottle or plastic sandwhich bag with a snipped corner, drop small circles of the guava paste reduction on the surface of the cheesecake batter. Drag a skewer or the blunt side of a butter knife through the circles in a continuous motion (as if connecting dots) to make heart shapes. When satisfied with the design, place the springform pan on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet on the center rack of your oven.
-Bake for 1 hour. After an hour, turn the heat off in the oven, and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for another hour.
-When done, the cheesecake will be dry to the touch (the center 5 inches of the cheesecake will not be set). Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let the cheesecake (while still in the springform pan), cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
-Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cheesecake from the pan. Cool the cheesecake for an additional hour on the cooling rack.
-Referegerate the cheesecake overnight. The next day, remove the sides of the pan. Use a spatula to very carefully loosen the parchment paper and cheesecake from the bottom of a pan and transfer onto serving platter. This tastes even better on the 2nd and 3rd day. The only challenge you'll face is keeping it around that long. Good luck with that! Slice and enjoy :)