Flour Girl: Handy With a Cheesecake
Capital City Cheesecake redefines notions about "hand-made." Chef-creator Caitlin Murphy, 28, has partnered with her younger sister Meaghan, 25, to move their luscious little cakes from idea to reality.
Late one night, faced with a broken mixer and a promise to a friend, Caitlin had to make a cheesecake. She skipped the wooden spoon and dove in with both hands. Literally. As a result, every small batch she makes still receives the same hands-on attention. By working the flour, sugar, milk and eggs into the cream cheese, she found a technique that produces the creamiest-textured cheesecake her friends had ever tasted.
A little over a year ago, Caitlin began having vision problems, headaches and a shooting pain down her left leg. Her passion for painting and teaching art started to look impossible. Meaghan couldn't stand to see her older sister laying for hours in the dark in debilitating pain. After many frustrating doctors' appointments, Caitlin found relief through acupuncture treatments. Ready and able for a challenge, the sisters planned a business around Caitlin's winning cheesecake formula.
Caitlin now considers the cheesecakes as creating art that is edible. The sisters obsess over quality and flavor, and it shows. Even the "icing" used for decoration is made of cheesecake ingredients, so there is nothing to get in the way of the cakes' flavor.
Capital City Cheesecake sent the Food section some samples of Caitlin's work. We liked her creme brulee with its golden crackly top, and the key lime, whose zest makes it sing. Her signature "bite-size" cakes (two or three bites, in truth) could help control a dessert eater's tendency to overindulge.
As chief executive officer of Capital City Cheesecake, Meaghan makes use of her bachelor's degree in business management from Trinity University in the District. Every step of building the brand has taught her flexibility and made her more determined, she says. The sisters recently got the green light to cook out of the kitchen at Colonel Brooks Tavern, just across the street from the Brookland-Catholic University Metro stop on the Red Line. They feel a special attachment to the area where they were born and raised. Eventually they want a storefront, but for now Caitlin and Meaghan are focused on getting the word out and filling immediate orders, which must be placed ahead either by phone or via their Web site. Smaller, personal orders can be picked up at the kitchen. Larger, catered orders can be arranged for delivery. Call 202-821-8251.
-- Leigh Lambert
Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake
Makes one 10-inch cheesecake (16 servings)
MAKE AHEAD: The cheesecake needs to be refrigerated overnight before serving.
For the crust
16 mint Oreo cookie sandwiches, filling discarded (to yield 32 cookies)
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
For the cake
48 ounces chilled cream cheese
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
7 teaspoons peppermint extract
3 large eggs
For the topping
6 mint Oreo cookie sandwiches (intact)
About 1/4 cup dark chocolate syrup, such as Hershey's Special Dark
For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use butter or nonstick cooking oil spray to grease a 10-inch springform pan.
Place the cookie halves in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to form fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse briefly to combine, then transfer to the springform pan. Use your fingers to press the mixture into a firm layer that covers the bottom of the pan.
Bake for about 7 minutes until firm and smells of chocolate. Transfer to the counter and cool the crust while you make the batter.
For the cake: Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Place the chilled cream cheese in a large mixing bowl.
Combine the sugar and flour in a small bowl, then add half the mixture to the large bowl; use your (clean) hands to work it into the cream cheese. Once incorporated, add the remaining sugar-flour mixture and repeat.
Combine the milk and peppermint extract in a liquid cup measure, then add one-third of the mixture to the large bowl. Use your hands to slowly incorporate it, then repeat the process two times with the remaining two-thirds of the liquid mixture. (At this point, the batter should be creamy.)
Add the eggs one at a time, using your hands to blend them into the batter. (At this point, the batter should thick and fluffy.)
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes. The top will be just slightly golden and firm. Turn off the oven, leaving the cheesecake undisturbed in the oven for 1 hour.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and put a plate over the cheesecake; this will help prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
For the topping: Place the cookies in the bowl of food processor and pulse to form fine crumbs.
When ready to serve, run a round-edged knife around the inside edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Transfer the cake (with pan bottom) to a serving plate.
Pour the dark chocolate syrup on the cheesecake, spreading it to form a thin layer on top. Scatter the cookie topping evenly over the syrup.
To serve, run a sharp knife under hot water, then dry the knife before making each cut in the cheesecake. Cover and refrigerate any leftover cheesecake.
Per serving: 406 calories, 9 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 34 g fat, 20 g saturated fat, 136 mg cholesterol, 369 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar
September 3, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Flour Girl | Tags: Flour Girl, Leigh Lambert, cheesecake, recipes
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