blueberry cake with liquid cheesecake and graham crumble

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the cheesecake factory has a massive tome of a menu, filled with a huge number of appetizers, entrées, and desserts. “over 250 dishes,” it reads, “made fresh every day.” WHAT? HOW? OVER 250? WHAT DOES “FRESH” MEAN THEN? you can walk into any of the restaurant’s 185 locations and order filet mignon, or an egg roll, or a mac n cheese-topped burger, or an omelette, or a slice of peanut butter fudge cheesecake. there’s no way all of those things are made fresh daily.

the cheesecake factory is part of america’s “casual dining” food revolution. chile’s, olive garden, t.g.i. friday’s, and cheesecake factory all fall into this category. there’s something WEIRD to me about these places. it seems like while other chain restaurants are more forward about their chain-ness, casual dining restaurants want you to think they’re making everything from scratch. they’re bullshitting you! that cheesecake has probably been frozen for months! make this cheesecake-cake at home instead!

you’ll need a 6-inch cake ring and a 6×20 inch strip of acetate.

cake

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

liquid cheesecake

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg, room temperature

graham cracker crumble

  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp sugar

cream cheese frosting

  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp heavy cream

assembly

  • blueberry jam

for the cake, preheat the oven to 350º. grease a half-sheet pan and line with parchment paper. cream the butter with the sugar in a stand mixer for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. beat in the eggs one at a time. add the vanilla. in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. add the dry ingredients and the lemon juice, alternating between dry and wet. mix until just combined. spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

for the liquid cheesecake, preheat the oven to 300º. line a 6×6 inch baking dish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. beat together the cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer until fluffy. in a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and salt. stream in the milk. add the egg. with the mixer on medium speed, slowly add in the egg slurry to the cream cheese. beat for a few minutes, until everything is well incorporated. pour the batter into the dish. bake both for 20 minutes. it should be set on top but still very jiggly underneath. set aside to cool.

for the graham cracker crumble, line a baking sheet with parchment and preheat the oven to 400º. stir together the crumbs, butter, and sugar, then toss onto prepared sheet in clumps. bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the crumbs hold together and are toasty golden brown.

for the cream cheese frosting, beat together all ingredients in a stand mixer until fluffy (or you can use a spoon, as long as all the ingredients are room temperature, because it’s such a small amount).

to assemble, use the cake ring to cut three circles and two half-circles out of the sheet cake. line the cake ring with the acetate and set it on a sheet pan. place a cardboard circle or cake board in the bottom of the ring. place two half circles on top, adding scraps if necessary to complete the circle. spread a third of the liquid cheesecake on top. spread on some blueberry jam. sprinkle on lots of graham cracker crumbles. repeat with the next two full circles. nestle the final layer on top and  a full circle and top with the rest of the chocolate cheesecake. nestle the final layer on top and spread on the cream cheese frosting. use remaining crumbs to decorate the top edges. freeze for at least 12 hours, then remove the ring and acetate. keep refrigerated.

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