Cheesecake Compromise

I plot desserts along three axes: ease of preparation, joy of consumption, and appearance.  I focus heavily on the ratio of joy of consumption to ease of preparation as that maximizes the brownie points I receive from my coworkers.  For instance, truffles are fantastically easy to prepare and quite tasty but ugly.  A ganache coating increases appearance but at the cost of difficulty.  Anything with a homemade crust is low on prep ease and medium in consumption so I generally don’t bother.

Cheesecake with a topping or filling sits at the apex of the three, being difficult to prepare well, pretty, and makes one feel like one’s tongue were being hugged.  The difficulty comes from handling as cheesecakes will crumble and crack if you look at them funny.  Additionally, they involve making a separate crust and blank-baking it and require a setting period that alternates between hot and cold and can take in excess of six hours.  So, what if I simply sacrificed appearance and slashed out much of the coddling?  I was going to find out.

One tactic to ensure even heating is to bake the cake in a hot water bath.  F that.  Another is to leave the oven door open a crack while leaving the oven at a low temperature for six hours.  F that as well.  I went for the much simpler “remove it from the oven and put it in the fridge” tactic and was rightly punished.  What emerged looked like the lid of a mason jar.  The cake had rose jack-straight about 3/4″ above the rim of the pan and then caved in like someone had put a belt around it only to return to its original width before flattening to a plateau evoking the cracked surface of a dessicated flood plain.  Hm…

Only in one other case had I refused to serve something because it looked hideous and that was because I literally dropped it.  I think my solution was somewhat clever: I popped the cheesecake in the freezer, firmed it up a bit, sawed the top off and glazed the remaining cake with cocoa powder and melted semisweet chocolate.  The best part was having an excuse to have a breakfast consisting of the top of  a cheesecake.