Next time you pay nearly hundred bucks for a slice of chocolate cake, don't crib. Any cheaper than that, it isn't cake; some brown-coloured concoction made with vanaspati (margarine), more like.
I'm going to do a list (for enriching our collective General Knowledge and Awareness), just like our current CM did during the previous rule. To show you how much more expensive it is to make pastry, than it was 2 years back, since the CM skipped those items and chose to focus on kerosene and paruppu instead.
Cadbury's cocoa powder: Rs. 150 (now), Rs 80 (then)
Amul fresh cream: Rs. 30 (now), Rs. 13 (then)
Bourneville Dark Chocolate: Rs. 85 (for 80 g, now), Rs. 20 (for 45g, then)
I don't have to go on and on about walnuts, butter, condensed milk and so on. And the VAT on "luxury" items. God.
So cheesecake is out of the question, right? A 8-ounce (230 g) pack of Kraft's Philadelphia cream cheese costs about 500 bucks. The rest of the ingredients aren't a bread-and-milk affair, either. I don't mean artisan bread and almond milk in this context.
Three things compelled me to make this cheesecake, though:
1)Britannia now makes cream cheese! Rs. 150 for a 180 g pack.
2)I've been craving Dulce de Leche and I imagined it'd be lovely in a cheesecake.
3)I was challenged by Spica and my Stinson-ian beliefs behooved me to.
I'll just take you through a pictorial play-by-play on the cheesecake, and my method of making Dulce de Leche, which saves a lot of LPG (which has also skyrocketed, price-wise). Oh, and how to make a mock springform pan that you'd ideally need to make an intact cheesecake. To finish it off, how to make a perfect graham cracker crust with Digestive biscuits.
Cheesecake for the Indian Kitchen. Yes. It's possible. Believe in it.
MAKING THE DULCE:
We start off with a gorgeous tin of Nestle Milkmaid condensed milk. I can wax nostalgic for hours on how we all used to eat it by the spoonful, neat. Just like my other love, Nutella.
Pierce a small hole on top with a knife and pestle. Or a clean nail and hammer. This step I chose to do, because I'm scared of unopened cans bursting open and giving me sugar burns and life long scars.
A small amount will ooze out, but it's OK. The chef gets to eat that.
Put the can in a rice cooker or a pan filled with simmering water, the water level being 3/4th of an inch below the top of the can.
I left mine on for about 4 hours and this is what I got...
Dulce de Leche. Also known as Liquid Love. Milk Jam. Confiture de Lait. I'm in love. And always will be.
Give it a good stir. There will be lumps, but it just needs some whisking in the hot dulce to dissolve and form a smooth caramel.
Save a spoon for tasting. The rest of it goes into the cheesecake!
MAKING THE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:
Pound the digestive biscuits to a fine powder using the rolling-pin-and-bag method. Add in the butter and powdered sugar. Alternatively, you can use a food processor for this.
Mix until you get that wet beach sand consistency.
Press the crumbs into the prepared cheesecake tin (instructions follow)
Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown. Cool before using!
TO MAKE A MOCK SPRINGFORM PAN:
You know how cheesecake needs a cool pan that you can clip off on one side and remove, thereby preserving its wobbly goodness? Turns out you CAN'T find it anywhere in Chennai.
So I googled long and hard and came up with this.
Line the outside (sides and bottom) of the pan with foil. This is the part that will come in touch with the water bath in the oven.
Line the tin with aluminium foil, the size of the foil being much more than the area of the pan covered, so you can have a foil overhang/excess at the sides that enables you to pull out the cheesecake en masse.
MAKING OF THE CHEESECAKE:
The base ingredients of eggs, the milk/gelatin mix, cream cheese and salt get blended together.
The cheesecake should be cooled, uncovered for 2 hours, at room temperature. It then goes into the refrigerator for 6 hours or so, covered, and gets chilled.
MAKING THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
Make this two hours before you want to serve the cheesecake.
In a double boiler/bain marie, all the ingredients for the glaze go in:
With as much self-control as you can achieve, do not eat the whole thing. Instead, pour the glaze over the chilled cheesecake. Smooth the entire thing over the top.
Chill for around 2 hours. Using the foil overhang, lift it out.
Dulce de Leche Cheesecake squares:
Adapted from Gourmet magazine:
For the crust:
Prepare the tin with foil as directed in pictures. Preheat oven to 325 F or 180 C.
Grind the crackers with sugar and melted butter in a food processor. Or use your hands to make the crust. Press it into the bottom of the tin. Bake 10 minutes, then cool for 5 minutes on the rack.
For the filling: