Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Le Cheesecake

When I was living in Grenoble 10 years ago, the only place to find chocolate chip cookies North American style was this one particular bakery that wasn't doing the usual French patisserie type baked goods. Muffins and donuts were non-existent then. These days you can find these items easily in many chained patisseries.

The French call shortbread type cookies 'les biscuits', and good old American chocolate chip cookies 'ah, les cookies !' (yes, though they love their French pastries, everybody seems to have a soft spot for les cookies). And besides les cookies that are popular everywhere I take them to, 'ah, le cheesecake !' seems to also be another marvelous anglophone invention among the French.

My Francophone friend Mylène from Québec confirmed that in Québec, they call the cheesecake 'gâteau au fromage' (as well as in my French cookbooks), and chocolate chip cookies 'biscuits aux brisures de chocolat'. But each time I introduce my cheesecake as 'gâteau au fromage', the French would invariably say, 'ah, le cheesecake !', and no less with 'ah, les cookies !'

Personally I think cheesecake should have another name altogether. Not so much because creamcheese is not really cheese to me. But with its name with the inconvenient word 'cheese', I can't get Yannick to have a bite, eventhough tiramisù with its Italian creamcheese type cheese in the name of mascarpone, he doesn't seem to mind at all!

The cheesecake I make in France doesn't taste the same as back in Canada because the creamcheese here is different from the usual Philadelphia. But it's delicious nonetheless, in a different way.

I always want to try new recipes, acquire new techniques, learn new things, etc. and today did I ever learn a few things. First I had decided to make my popular French onion tart on a large scale because I needed a lot of it. Instead of making it in a tart pan as usual, I had the bright idea of tripling the recipe and making it in a large cookie sheet. After slicing 4.5 pounds of onions (I bet most people haven't done that!) and tears streaming and eyes and nose burning, and then trying to squeeze all the onions (and that was only twice the amount the recipe) into my largest frying pan and picking up bits and pieces off the floor every time I flipped the spatula (really got a good workout for my biceps by the way), I scaled the tripling to doubling the recipe.

Rolling the pie crust large enough for the cookie sheet wasn't an easy task either. In fact it became an impossible task for me. Now the floor wasn't only littered with onion bits but also flour and pie dough. In the end I abandonned the idea and went back to make the tarts in two regular tart pans. The bright idea wasn't a bright idea after all. Many lessons learned here, but most importantly, I will never make more than one batch of this recipe at a time ever ever again!

And by the way, if I wasn't sure before, cutting onions is now undoubtdedly at the top of my list of least favourite tasks in the kitchen.

I also made a cheesecake, and this too I needed a lot of, and this too, I had some adventure with and learned a lesson or two. I increased the recipe and made it in a regtangular 9*13 inch pan to be cut into squares. I ignored to bake it in bath water which I normally would do. And of course it had too big (really really big) crack to ignore. To repair this, I decided to cover it with mascarpone cream. But I was out of eggs and I remembered seeing eggless tiramisù recipes where whipped cream was used instead of whipped egg whites.

Now I really shouldn't be telling people that I don't know how to make whipped cream, but for once I have a story to tell so here we go. It took a real long while of beating the cream with the electric hand beater before anything started to happen. Slowly the volume started to increase. Now, if I were to keep beating at it, it would eventually turn itself into whipped cream, right? Right! It eventually got a little bigger in volume. And right before my eyes, it escalated into a weirder and weirder state (which I found out later this phenomenon is called curdling). So instead of whipped cream, it looked like I had butter (I was told it was butter) in a puddle of milk. Well, butter is a really really lovely thing. But not when what you need is whipped cream!

I'll skip telling you this next part because it was even more embarassing that what had just happened. Fast forward to the happy ending (after all this babbling, I should have fast forwarded sooner, shouldn't I?), I covered it with some delicious homemade apricot spread that our friend Fabrice and Ania had made and given us. So after all these adventures, I congratulated myself for having made a cracked cheesecake that needed mending that I am sure in the end turned out better than a perfect cheesecake without the topping otherwise.

Here's the original recipe for a 6.5 inch springform pan.

PS. If you know why what was supposed to be whipped cream went weird, please tell me in the comment section.

Le Cheesecake

Ingredients :
Crust :
130 grams speculoos
2 tablespoons butter

Filling :
2 eggs
2 pots yogurt (250 ml)
300 grams St. Moret cheese
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Grind speculoos and mix with melted butter. Press into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
2. Blend the filling ingredients and pour it over the baked crust.
3. Bake in bath water for about 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Bon appetit!


Rebeca Lombard said...

Your food was delicious Rung!! I loved every single bit of it and was particularly impressed with "les cookies!" I always find hard to find the equivalent ingredients for this recipe here in France. It was a treat to have a little taste of America. I also loved seeing you and look foward to seeing you again this evening. xx

Anonymous said...

Rung, you are simply wonderful! i wish i could taste some of your fine art, but then again, it might not be so good for my silouhette!! please, do provide me with your home adress, i need to mail you something ;)


Anonymous said...

Crème fraîche fouettée qui devient “Chantilly” par l’adjonction de sucre et de vanille. Éviter l’usage du batteur électrique ou bien le régler sur la vitesse la plus faible!

J'imagine que tu as battu ta creme trop forte et que c'est devenu beurre + petit lait :)

Et puis c'est pas vrai, je mange fromage sur pizza :p na !

Anielle said...

Rung, je veux gouter a ton 'gateau au fromage' quand je viendrai de visiter, on passera pour la tarte aux oinions. Veux tu que je t'apporte du Philadelphia?