Now that I'm going to a monthly potluck (thanks, M and S!), I've got a regular schedule for experimenting. This time I scrolled through my enormous collection of untried recipes and selected the first two that caught my eye: candied lemon cheesecake and sugar doughnut muffins (aka doffins). I hadn't tried any portmanteau recipes before this so I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon. Who doesn't want a sugar doughnut muffin?
I've also been making lots of cheesecakes lately. Although I don't really like cheesecake that much, I do enjoy making cheesecakes. It's a win-win: I make it and somebody else eats most of it. This recipe was intriguing because it included candied lemons, which I've been wanting to try making for a while. It also has a crust that isn't made out of graham crackers. The question of what to use instead of graham crackers if you're outside the US has been discussed by lots of people (1, 2, 3, 4) so I figured I'd give that a try as well.
With the exception of the candied lemons, both of these recipes were very easy to make (almost). I put together the doffin batter while the cheesecake was baking and still had time to wash the dishes.
The cheesecake had a really nice, light texture. I'm planning to use this recipe and swap out the lemon zest for other flavors (matcha green tea, cocoa, vanilla).
The only snag was that the ingredient list for the cheesecake didn't list the amounts of the ingredients very clearly. The crust is made with biscotti, and the recipe said "12 biscotti". How much is 12 biscotti? I had mini-biscotti instead of full-sized biscotti and I started off using 24 biscotti and then kept adding until there was enough crust to cover the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. I have fixed the recipe so that it has volume, mass, or weight measurements.
The candied lemon recipes uses 6 cups of sugar. I followed the instructions and only used three lemons. Mistake! If you're going to use 6 cups of sugar to candy lemons, use 20 or so lemons and then store the leftovers in the fridge. They will be fine for weeks and you won't have wasted almost four pounds of sugar on three lemons.
Tips: it's better to use stale biscotti than fresh biscotti for the crust. You want to put the hard, stale biscotti in a food processor with a sharp blade and grind them up until they are crumbs. Fresh biscotti won't crumble as easily as stale biscotti. The biscotti for sale at most grocery stores are stale and should work well. I used almond biscotti instead of plain biscotti and the flavor of the crust worked very well with the flavor of the cheesecake.
The candied lemon recipe says to slice the lemons as thinly as possible. Don't slice the lemons too thinly or the flesh will fall off while the lemon slices are cooking. I would suggest slicing the lemons thicker than 1/8 of an inch. In the photos below, you can see where the lemon slices were too thin and only the rind made it through being cooked twice. If you've got a slicing wheel on your food processor, you want to use that instead of slicing by hand like I did. The only reason I didn't use the slicing wheel on my Cuisinart was because I had a brain fart and forgot that I had that option.
The lemons will take over an hour to make. I made them on Friday night and put them in a tupperware in the fridge, then pulled them out and decorated the top of the cheesecake when I made it on Saturday, and put the whole thing back in the fridge until Sunday afternoon. It was fine.
Make sure to use whole milk ricotta. You need the fat to keep the cheesecake moist. The moist ricotta will keep the cream cheese from making the cake too heavy and slimy.
This is probably just my oven temperature being off, but I ended up having to bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes extra. The middle was still slightly jiggly when I pulled it out but it was completely solid after being refrigerated overnight.
Candied Lemon (Ricotta) Cheesecake
Original recipe from Zen Can Cook, updated by me
for the candied lemons
- 3 lemons
- 6 cups granulated sugar
for the biscotti crust
- 10 ounces biscotti
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
for the cheesecake
- 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces (1 cup) cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoon heavy cream
- zest of 2 lemons
Put three lemons in the freezer for 30 minutes. Combine 3 cups of sugar and 4 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. While the water is heating, slice the frozen lemons. Add them to the boiling sugar syrup and cook at a low simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, let it rest for 10 minutes, carefully remove the lemon slices, and discard the syrup.
Combine 3 cups of sugar and 3 cups of water in the large pot. Bring to a low simmer and add the lemon slices. Cook for about 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Take the lemon slices out and store them in a tupperware in the fridge overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Process the biscotti to fine crumbs in a food processor with the sugar. In a bowl, combine the biscotti crumbs with the melted butter. Mix until incorporated.
Line a 9 inch springform pan or smooth-edged tart pan with the biscotti crumb mixture. Press down firmly with your fingers until the mixture is compressed and flattened. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let the crust cool for several minutes.
While the crust is baking, combine the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, eggs, heavy cream, and lemon zest in a food processor and process until combined (about 2 minutes). Fill the cooled crust with the cheesecake batter and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until it stops jiggling when you shake it and a knife inserted comes out clean. If the cake is not fully baked, continue baking it in increments of 10 minutes until it is done.
Let it cool and arrange the candied lemon slices on the top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, before serving.
|My pathetic attempts at slicing lemons by hand. Remember to pick out the seeds.|
|First time cooking the lemons.|
|After the first cook.|
|After the second cook. The lemon slices that were too thin have lost the flesh.|
|Biscotti and sugar.|
|I took a pic of the biscotti container so that I would remember how much I used.|
|Cream cheese and ricotta.|
|Creamed cheeses together.|
|Adding the eggs. Break the egg yolks with a fork before you add them to the cheese.|
|Ready to bake.|
|The cake should be solid when you shake it, and there should be a light brown edge around the rim of the pan.|
|Arranging the lemons on top.|
While the cheesecake was baking, I made the doffins. Ironically, I was the only person who didn't like the doffins. I thought that they were a little bit bland, tasted a little too much of nutmeg, and were a bit heavy. "Bland" and "tastes too much of nutmeg" seem contradictory but that's what I got from them: bland nutmeg. But the were easy to make.
Tips: you can make these the night before and store them on a plate covered with saran wrap. They won't go stale. Don't put the butter and sugar on until the day you're going to eat them.
The flour mixture can be put together in a measuring cup instead of using a bowl. Just stir the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together carefully and you will have one less thing to wash up. You don't need to stir it together that much since you just want the spices to be mixed in with the flour instead of sitting on top. This will help incorporate the spices more evenly into the wet ingredients.
If you don't have ground nutmeg, you can substitute by using cinnamon and ginger. You can use any type of milk - I used whole milk.
You can't substitute butter for the vegetable oil because it will change the texture of the doffin.
I used a hand mixer with the wet ingredients but you can easily use a fork and mix by hand instead.
There will be clumps when you add the dry ingredients. Beat the batter heavily for a minute or two and it will smooth out.
The recipe says to "lightly grease" the muffin pan. I had trouble getting the doffins out of the pan so I would suggest greasing more than "lightly". Do not use cupcake liners. You need the sides of the doffins to be baked and to not have the crumb exposed by pulling off cupcake liners.
1 tablespoon of melted butter will be just enough to cover the tops of all 12 doffins. It may seem like you'll run out but you won't.
Sugar Doughnut Muffins (Doffins)
Original recipe from Baking Bites
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a muffin tin with cooking spray or vegetable oil.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and egg until light in color. Pour in vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract. Mix to combine.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Pour into egg mixture and stir to combine.
Divide batter evenly into 12 muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
While muffins are baking, melt butter and pour remaining sugar into a small bowl.
When muffins are done, lightly brush the top of each with some melted butter, remove from the pan and roll in sugar and cinnamon. Cool on a wire rack.
|All of the ingredients, plus whatever else was on the counter.|
|This is why I keep my flour in a plastic bag. Why do they use such strong glue that I can't open the flour bag without ripping a huge hole? Then the flour leaks out through the hole and gets everywhere!|
|Use a large serving spoon to divide the batter.|
|My best attempt at dividing the batter evenly. Not bad.|
|These will rise several inches when baked.|
|Melted butter and sugar-cinnamon mixture.|