A Tale of Two Cheesecakes

Battle cheesecake in Ginny's kitchen this week.  I had two recipes that I wanted to make--one Texan at heart--dulce de leche + pecans, and one with pomegranate seeds on top and mascarpone within.  It would be an epic mistake to have these two cakes hanging around my kitchen tempting me--they were for a friend's welcome home from Afghanistan party and the L&D overnighter.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake (modified from recipe on Mercer and Sage)

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
  • 3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Dulce de Leche, for drizzling

Instructions

  • Make the crust: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and combine with graham cracker crumbs. Press the mixture into a 10″ springform pan and bake for 8-10 minutes, until light brown. Allow the crust to cool.
  • Using food processor (you can use it to make the crumbs first, brush out and then use to make the filling, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and blend in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla, salt and heavy cream. Mix until everything is incorporated well. Pour the batter into the cooled crust.
  • Prepare a water bath by filling a roasting pan halfway with warm water. Set the cheesecake into the water bath, wrapping the springform with foil so water doesn't leak into it. Bake for about 45 min. (To check the cheesecake for doneness, give the pan a little shake. A perfectly baked cheesecake will jiggle very slightly in the center.)
  • Transfer the cheesecake to a rack to cool completely, then chill it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Drizzle the cheesecake with dulce de leche and top with pecans. I had to heat the dulce de leche slightly in the microwave to make it spreadable.

This cheese cake doesn't call for crumbs on the sides, but the next cheesecake does.  If your cheesecake calls for crumbs on the sides of the cake press those on first by rotating pan like a ferris wheel and pressing crumbs up sides.  Then place pan on counter and dump in the remaining crumbs.  Use a glass to compact the crumbs right into the edge and bottom.

Cheesecake #2 called for pomegranate seed topping--unfortunately I could not pick a perfectly ripe pomegranate.  One reply on Ask.com had this helpful hint:

When it's bright red on the outside and the seeds on the inside are red too.

Duh.  Next time I will look for one that is darker red on the exterior.  At least underipe pomegranates are less messy.

 Modified slightly from recipe on BethMichelle

For crust

8 1/2 ounces lemon wafers, finely ground, I used Pepperidge Farms lemon cookies
10 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

For filling

20 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz mascarpone cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

For topping

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup powdered sugar
pomegranate seeds from 1 large pomegranate

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F and butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
In a bowl stir together wafer crumbs and butter .
Pat wafer/butter mixture onto the bottom and sides (about an 1 1/2 up) of springform pan.
Place pan on a shallow baking pan and bake until golden, about 7-10 minutes.
Leave oven on.

While crust is cooling, make filling.  Beat cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar in food processor. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add vanilla, lemon juice, salt and pomegranate molasses and mix until combined.
Pour filling into cooled crust and bake until cake is set and puffed around edge but still wiggles slightly when pan is shaken gently, 30 to 40 minutes.
Leave oven on.
Cool slightly in springform pan on rack.

While cheesecake is cooling make yogurt topping.
In a mixing bowl combine yogurt and powdered sugar.
Spread gently on top of slightly cooled cheesecake.
Return cheesecake to the oven and bake until topping is set, about 15 minutes.

Let cheesecake chill for at least 8 hours.
Before serving sprinkle top of cheesecake with pomegranate seeds.

And for comparison.....

 I preferred the pomegranate cheesecake, but both were equally delicious.  And if you make cheesecakes one at a time like a normal person, no one will be able to compare them anyway.