Recipe of the Week: Maple bacon cheesecake

The natural salty content of bacon counteracts the sweetness of the cheesecake in maple bacon cheesecake. Courtesy photo

Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts, mostly because I love cream cheese. The texture is creamy and velvety, and the crust adds the crunch the dessert needs.

I thought about this type of cheesecake during my junior year at Triplett Tech Vocational School in Mount Jackson. Every week in class, we had a different assignment we had to tackle either as a group or alone, and it just so happens that week’s assignment was creating my own cheesecake flavor.

I chose bacon because it has a natural salty content and it counteracts with the sweetness of the cheesecake. This recipe is not the classical cheesecake, but that’s why I love being a chef; you can experiment and take chances.

Some of the best ideas in today’s world are from trials and errors, and never giving up. Don’t be afraid to live outside the box and to dream big. My dream is to show people that food is exciting and that anyone can cook. I want to have my own show on the Food Network and entertain people through my food.

So it’s never too late to follow a dream, and remember — best wishes from inside my experimental kitchen to yours.

Recipe Level Of Difficulty: Moderate

Yield: 8-10 Slices

• 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 5 tbsp melted butter
• Pinch of salt

Butter the sides and bottom of a parchment papered spring form pan. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan to create an even layer. Bake at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes. Take out of the oven and cool completely.

• 40 ounces of room temperature cream cheese
• 1 1/2 cup of sugar
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup sour cream
• 2 tsp maple extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the cream cheese and sugar until well mixed. Add one egg at a time and fully incorporate, then add the sour cream and maple extract. Pour the filling into a prepared pan. Take two pieces of tin foil and wrap them around the outside of the springform pan to protect the cheesecake from the water bath. To create a water bath, fill a pan with at least two-inch edges one-third of the way up with water and place the cheesecake in the water. When placed in the oven, the steam from the water slowly cooks the cheesecake and prevents it from burning. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees for another 15-20 minutes. Once baked, take out of the water and refrigerate.

• 1 cup of maple syrup
• 2 tbsp butter
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 6 strips of bacon

In a saute pan, cook the maple syrup, butter and brown sugar mixture until it starts to bubble. Let the syrup cool down slightly before pouring over the top of the cheesecake. Bake the bacon in the oven until crisp, using a paper towel to absorb the grease. Cut the bacon in various shapes and sizes, and sprinkle on top of the cheesecake. Chill for two hours and serve.

Cody’s tips: When slicing the cheesecake, take a knife and run it under hot water for 30 seconds to get the blade hot, and slice through the cheesecake. This creates a straight cut through the cheesecake for an excellent presentation.

Cody Fitchett, of Fort Valley, is a recent graduate of Triplett Tech in Shenandoah County. He will start a four-year bachelor’s degree program in baking and pastry at the Culinary institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in February. Email him at chefcodyfitchett@gmail.com