Sunday, October 29, 2017

Earl Grey Cheesecake with Speculoos Crust

Someone pinch me, how the heck is it already almost the end of October?

But LA is flat out ignoring all conceptions of time and season, as it has been over a 100 degrees this entire week. Whenever I walk outside, it literally feels like I'm being baked in an oven. So jealous of my parents up in Seattle, where it's actually sweater weather and the streets are covered with fall foliage. 

The past week has been pretty lax, so I've been a breathing potato. Plowed through Season 3 of Gilmore Girls, and now Rory has graduated Chilton and is off to Yale! Watching her graduation made me so nostalgic for my high school graduation. I can't believe it's already been more than a year. 

Along with nostalgia, recently I've been a little frantic thinking about the future. Thinking about class scheduling, study abroad plans, summer plans, housing, extracurriculars has been a little overwhelming. I think I'm definitely more of a planner than a spontaneous go-with-the-flow person, so having it all up in the air makes me a little anxious. Excel, advisors, and friends have definitely helped, so just telling myself it'll all work out. 

But there's nothing a good slice (or two) of cheesecake can't fix! One of the most delightful desserts, in my opinion. Diving your fork into the creamy, solid top then hitting the crisp crust is just so satisfying. I have an obsession with anything earl grey, and I love flavoring things like creams and custards with it. So, an earl grey cheesecake has been on my mind for a while. I was looking up different ways to get the flavor in, because there's not really a powder like matcha you can add without affecting the consistency. One recipe I found steeped the tea in heavy cream for 1-2 days in the fridge before using it, calling it "earl grey cold brew." I really liked the ring of that, so decided to go with this method. A lot of other recipes actually added ground up tea leaves into the batter, but wanted to avoid any grittiness or bitterness in the cheesecake so I decided not to do that, but if I make this again I might try that method out. 

As this cheesecake melts away in your mouth, I hope at least a little bit of any stress or anxiety melts away too. 

Speculoos Crust
1 1/3 cup speculoos cookie crumbs (I used almost all of the TJ's box)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 8-ounce blocks cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
2 bags earl grey tea

1. 1-2 days before you plan to bake the cheesecake, open 2 bags of earl grey tea into the heavy cream and let it steep in the fridge.
2. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper. 
3. Mix all the ingredients for the crust together. Press the crust mixture into the pan to form a tight, packed layer. Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
4. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Beat in the sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add in your egg. Strain the tea grounds from the cream, mix the cream into the mixture. 
5. Pour the batter on top of the crust and smooth into an even layer. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the edges are set and the middle jiggles slightly when you shake the pan.
6. Remove from oven and cool completely before refrigerating.

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