It's not very often that I eat dinner at a restaurant and immediately feel compelled to run home and re-create something from my dining experience. In fact, I don't think that has ever happened, but they say there is a first time for everything. A few weeks ago, while I was visiting my family in Tennessee, we had dinner at a quaint little out-of-the-way bistro with an awesome menu. My dinner was great - shrimp with cheese grits - but it was the dessert that had me running back to my own kitchen to recreate.
Maybe it was because I was feeling nostalgic by being back in the town where I grew up, back to my roots. Or maybe it was just because the slice of Orange Creamsicle cheesecake was so darn good. Either way, each luscious and creamy bite conjured up images of when I was a kid riding home from school on the bus that was driven by my grandfather.
After he finished driving his route, he would stop at the little gas station/convenience store close to his house and let me buy a treat. Sometimes it was a pack of Elvis Presley trading cards and sometimes it would be a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup but more often than not, it was a Creamsicle. Even knowing that my grandmother had a big dinner waiting for us as soon as we darkened the door, I was allowed to eat my treat right away (yeah, I was spoiled. Big deal. I turned out okay...well, sort of, but that's a whole different story).
As soon as I darkened my own door after devouring this sinful dessert, I searched the internet for a recipe and came upon this blog by someone named Charles French. Seems like Charles also has a fondness for Orange Creamsicles and posted his version in the form of a cheesecake. Take his advice and don't increase the amount of Cointreau and take my advice and let this jewel sit overnight. I was dying to try it so Captain Sturm and I had some friends over for dinner and decided to cut into it only a few hours out of the oven. It had an overpowering, bitter taste from the residual alcohol but by the next day it had mellowed out and I was once again taken to way back when.......
Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 cups sugar -- divided
2 pounds cream cheese at room temp.
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup Cointreau (do not substitute)
1 teaspoon orange extract
4 large eggs at room temp.
4 T heavy cream
zest of one orange finely minced (couple of teaspoons)
1 pinch salt
8 oz Sour Cream
Orange food coloring
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/4c sugar, orange zest, and 6 tablespoons butter into the bowl of a food processor and blitz, about 30 seconds until you have crumbs.
Pour this mixtures into a 9" cheesecake pan and press down with your knuckles so the pan is fully covered on the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides and well pressed.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until set. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.
Lower oven temp to 275.
Place 1 package of cream cheese in the large mixing bowl (or your stand mixer bowl) along with about 1/4 of the remaining cup of sugar, beat until well combined, add in about 1/4 of the sour cream and beat until whipped well. Make certain you scrape down the bowl from time to time while doing this.
Repeat this process until all packages of cream cheese, the sugar and the sour cream are incorporated and well mixed, scrape the bowl down often.
At this point add the Cointreau, add the vanilla and orange extracts, and the heavy cream then add the salt. Slowly add the eggs a little at time while continuing to mix & scrape the bowl. Once all of this has been added whip another minute or two. Reserve 2 cups of the batter and then pour the rest into the spring form pan. With the remaining 2 cups of batter add orange food coloring until you get a tangerine color. When you get the color right, pour it in 4 dollops on top of the batter in the pan. Using a skewer swirl the orange batter into the rest don’t over do it or you’ll lose the swirls. Start with the upper right dollop swirling clockwise. Then down to the bottom right swirling counter-clockwise, bottom left, clockwise and upper left counter-clockwise. When you’re done you’ll see that all the swirls move towards the center of the cake.
Open oven, on lowest rack set the baking dish with the water. On the middle rack place the cookie sheet and set the filled spring form pan in it. Close the oven and bake at 275 for about 1 hour 45 minutes. (could take 10 minutes longer due to the alcohol content). The edges should be set but the center should still be wiggly (like jello) when done cooking. There may be some cracks around the edges up to 3/4 of an inch. Don’t worry these will settle beautifully.
Place cake on cooling rack, allow to cool for 30-45 minutes then go around edges with the offset spatula (or a thin knife) to loosen. Allow to continue cooling for 3 more hours. Refrigerate overnight to chill.
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NOTES : Has a bitter aftertaste if not chilled overnight.