Monday, October 06, 2014

Birthday Cake Cheesecake

For as long as Matt has been coaching (going on 16 years!), I've made a cheesecake every Friday during football season for the coaches. For many seasons, I stuck with my tried and true recipe. One - it was a proven winner, they were CIF Champions the first year I stated making it. And two, it was fast and easy. But the longer I make this superstitious sweet treat, the more adventurous I have been getting. Making the same ol' thing again and again, gets boring! It took a few years for my husband to agree to let me alter the recipe each week (like I said, superstitious) but once he did, I've been having fun trying new variations on my basic recipe. 

A few weeks ago, it was the head coach's birthday, so I decided I wanted to come up with a Birthday Cake Cheesecake. I changed up my recipe by making the crust out of vanilla wafers instead of graham crackers, adding chunks of Funfetti cake to the middle, and topping it all off with a chocolate ganache, whip cream, sprinkles and cherries. It turned out better than I expected! 

Birthday Cake Cheesecake
This cheesecake is rich and creamy and can easily feed 10-12 people.

1 package Nilla Wafers
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted

1 box Funfetti cake, baked to box instructions, cooled and cut into squares
3 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1 pint sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Ganache
8 ounces semi-sweet morsels
1/2 cup heavy cream

Canned whipped cream
Rainbow Sprinkes
Marachino cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grind Nilla wafers into crumbs in the Cuisinart with the metal blade.
Add the sugar and blend together.
Add the melted butter and pulse until the mixture comes together. It will be slightly crumbly. Press mixture into the bottom and half way up the sides of a spring form pan.
Bake for 5 minutes.

While your crust is in the oven, wash the Cuisinart bowl and blade and reassemble.
Blend the 3 pkgs of cream cheese
Add the sugar 1/4 cup at a time, pulsing between each addition.
Add the eggs, one at a time, pulsing between each addition.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add vanilla and blend until well combined.

Place cut squares of Funfetti cake into spring form pan on top of crust.
Slowly pour cream cheese mixture over the cake squares. Gently spread with a spatula, if needed, so that all cake squares are covered.
Return to oven for 35-40 minutes.

Right before the filling is done baking, mix together the topping. I put the 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla right into the container of sour cream and stir. (No need to dirty another bowl!)

When the filling is done baking it will dome a little at the top and will NOT jiggle in the middle when you move the pan around.
Remove it from the oven and immediately (and gently!) top with sour cream mixture.
Return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Let the whole thing cool on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes before removing the outer ring of the spring form pan. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving. (But I think it comes out best if you can chill it overnight!)

Before serving, top with Chocolate Ganache, whipped cream, sprinkles and cherries.
To make the ganache, cook the chocolate chips and heavy cream in the top of a double boiler until smooth and creamy. Allow to cool to room temp before pouring onto chilled cheesecake. (If you don't have a double boiler, I've cooked it in a small saucepan right over the flame before. Just be really careful not to let the cream boil (it will separate and make your chocolate sauce oily and lumpy) or the chocolate chips scorch (your sauce will taste burnt and chalky!) 

One tip - I put my spring form pan on a cookie sheet from the very start. This makes it easy to remove and return to the oven as you are filling it and topping it. (Twice I've had the whole thing open up and fall on my feet - so I've learned my lesson!) ENJOY!

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