Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Retro Recipes, Part Two

Would someone please just kill me if I buy another cookbook? 

With the collection I have, it's criminal to think about buying more.  I've often thought there are really no original recipes left (unless you count molecular gastronomy, which doesn't compute in my kitchen).  Yes, there are techniques and versions of recipes, but at the end of the day, fried chicken is fried chicken. 

Which leads me back to that retro collection of cookbooks I mentioned in the last post.  Most of them have languished on my bookshelves for so long that they are encrusted with dust.  That's about to end.

I began by pulling out my old Maida Heatter cookbooks.  Remember her?  She was the feisty, down-to-earth baker from south Florida who took no crap from anyone.  Her recipes were (and still are) winners.  I could bake everything in her books and never, ever need another baking cookbook.  I heart her.  I hope she's still alive.

Let's talk about her book "Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts."  As soon as I picked it up, I remembered her "Bulls Eye Cheesecake."  Back in my younger days, I attempted to make it.  I didn't have much patience back then, so while the finished product tasted good, it didn't have that "WOW" presentation factor.  Oh, but I SO nailed it this time.  If you really want to know the truth, I am dancing up and down right now over how I nailed it.  Hell yes, I rocked it!!

So can you.  Just follow my directions and have some patience.  Prepare for major accolades.

BULL'S EYE CHEESECAKE  (from Maida Heatter)

32 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon powdered espresso, dissolved in 1 T. hot water
2 teaspoons good cocoa powder (I used Valhrona)
1/4 cup crushed cookie crumbs (I used Pepperidge Farms Milano)

In electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in the sour cream, extracts and salt.  Beat well until no lumps remain, scraping down bowl frequently.  Beat in eggs, one at a time. 

Remove bowl from the mixer.  You wil have about 6 cups of the mixture.  Place half of it (3 cups) into a separate bowl.

Add the granulated sugar to one bowl and the brown sugar to the other.  Mix each well with a rubber spatula. 

To the brown sugar mixture, add the dissolved coffee and the cocoa powder.  Stir well to blend.

Now to form the design:

Butter an 8 x 3-inch cake pan.  Line bottom with parchment and grease well.  Pour a scant cupful of the chocolate batter in the pan.  Let it spread, then pour a scant cupful of the vanilla batter over.  Take your time and pour it very slowly, so that it forms an uniform circle over the chocolate batter in the pan.  Repeat with remaining chocolate and vanilla batters.  Remember, patience is a virtue here.

Carefully transfer the pan into a larger pan filled with warm water.  Place in oven preheated to 250-degrees and bake for 1 hour or until just set and middle is still slightly wobbly.  Remove from heat and place on a rack to cool.  Chill.

To remove from pan, dip briefly in hot water.  Shake pan to loosen, then turn out onto a sheet lined with parchment or plastic.  Press cookie crumbs over then invert onto serving dish.

Yield:  8 servings (or 12 if you are feeling stingy).

This may be the most spectacular dessert I have ever made.  Seriously!


  1. I have made this cheesecake often with much success. However, lately the batters have not spread to form the bullseye. I have tried ensuring that the temperature us correct (both the temperature of the ingridents and the room). Do you have any trouble shooting tips for me?