Usually, the red, white, and blue cake relies on berries for both its redness and blueness. I don't think I've ever before seen one that gets its red from Red Velvet. Another first for me--the first cake that told me to use a single-blade razor to trim a cake layer. I grumbled, "Where is Woody when I need him?" I also grumbled, "I don't have a single-edge razor and I'm not going to go out and buy one." I also grumbled, "This is not going to end well." I'm still mystified by the use of the 10-inch cake pan, which at least I owned.
Other than to say that the 10-inch pan idea was a pain in the Astor Bar, I won't say much about the Red Velvet layer, at least for now, since we made it so recently, but I will include one picture of the food coloring because Jim was in love with the photos.
This is how it turned out. I would have been pretty disappointed if I hadn't known it was going to be thin and flat. I made the cake Friday night, and then went on to bake the cheesecake so it could have its overnight rest in the refrigerator.
No one makes cheesecakes like Rose Levy Beranbaum. They never crack; they're silky smooth, rich, and utterly delicious. It probably has something to do with the ridiculous amounts of cream cheese and sour cream.
Not to mention eggs.
Here it is, going into the oven in the same contraption I used for the Chocolate Oblivion. My glass-bottomed springform pan (the one recommended by America's Test Kitchen), doesn't seem to leak, but I'm glad to wrap it in the silicone pan so it doesn't pick up any water.
It's supposed to stay in the oven with the temperature turned off for a full hour, but I took it out after 45 minutes because I didn't know whether it was supposed to start browning. Then I had to stay up late with it while it cooled to room temperature. But I had a glass of wine and read Orange is the New Black (which is not as good as the Netflix version, by the way), so I was pretty happy about the whole process. I thought about sending a picture of the finished cheesecake to Woody. Would he say, "You did good, grasshopper," or would he say, "You burned the cheesecake!" Then I decided maybe I didn't want to know the answer.
On to the Dreamy Creamy frosting! Woody kindly left me some wonderful Valrhona white chocolate, but I had to add some white chocolate chips that I found in my chocolate drawer. The creamy Valrhona melted like a dream, but the (relatively) cheap white chips wanted to stay chip-ish. Valrhona seems to be worth the price, although you can't just run to your neighborhood grocery store and pick it up in bulk.
The cheesecake came out of the springform pan more or less intact, and I put the liquid raspberry preserves on top so the cake would adhere.
Jim couldn't find a single-blade razor after all, so I had to make do with a knife. I grumbled, but I didn't curse, so it wasn't too bad.
And I got it on top of the cheesecake, and then I turned it over on the serving plate, so I thought things were going pretty smoothly.
But dabbing the jam on the cake layer was my Waterloo. I tried a brush, a spatula, and various other utensils, but nothing worked for me. I told Jim that I knew this cake layer was not going to end well, and I was right. If I made this again, I'd simply use a nine-inch cake pan in the first place and forget about the trimming and the crumb-setting. I also said, "And I am not going to get out the pastry bag."
But I felt so bad about how shoddy the cake looked that I thought maybe I could redeem myself with a decorative swirl (which is odd, since I have zero confidence in that technique, but it turned out okay.
The glaze for the blueberries was a wonder. Not heavy or too sweet, it somehow intensified both the flavor and color of the berries. Everything looked good except the splotched cake layer.
Fortunately, JJ was not bothered by the splotches. In fact, he thought the cake was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen, except maybe the garbage truck. Or the fire truck.
Everyone loved it--with some reservations. My daughter said, "Mom, it's really good, but it's so rich." When I left, I asked her if I could leave the rest of the cheesecake with her. She said, "No, thanks, I want to live." Then she said maybe I could leave a small piece. Fortunately, our next-door neighbor was more than happy to take it off our hands, although I noticed that Jim cut off another largish piece for himself before he said goodbye to it forever.
Then the fireworks started. Someone in our neighborhood must have taken a trip to Wisconsin, where firecrackers and sparklers are legal, and they kept shooting them off until about 2:00 a.m. A cheesecake is a much quieter way of celebrating Independence Day.