Ever cooked a cheesecake on the barbie? NIK GRIMMETT has and he’s adamant that the result can be remarkable.
When thinking of barbeque, we as Kiwis normally have visions of sausages, steak, chops, or kebabs laden with meat and veggies. We throw a few salads together and voilà, the typical summer haul. It may make this sound very controversial, but it doesn’t have to be this way…
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So far in this series, we have touched on brisket and burnt ends – getting into the start of American-style barbeque with some of the more common meats that are present when grabbing a platter of food from your local BBQ restaurant. These smokers are far more versatile, though. A brilliant example is cooking a cheesecake. It is actually pretty easy and produces a different flavour than can be achieved in a conventional oven. Give this one a try and you’ll be adding it to the range of items for the menu if you’re producing a long cook for the following day’s lunch with friends.
New York-style cheesecakes are designed to be baked, relying on cream cheese and cream to produce a rich, dense finish. They produce a punchier flavour than your regular cheesecake, which uses gelatine to firm up rather than baking.
This style lends to taking a bit of smoke, enhancing some of the already rich flavours and adding a new profile for the palette. For this cheesecake, instead of going with a plain New York-style, I’m using the smokiness to enhance chocolate and caramel flavours to produce something a bit richer to cut through the main meal. This dish is meant not to be subtle – you want guests to not just be talking about the BBQ meats and vegetables, but the whole experience!
First off, you need to make a base for your cheesecake. Crush up some biscuits, getting them to a fine crumb, and then add butter. I like to sneak in a flavour into the base at this point, so not only do I use biscuits that have chocolate through them but if I can find a spice or flavour that complements my main cheesecake, I’ll add that in.
For this base I like to add a pinch of cinnamon and some sea salt caramel dry seasoning – you can find this in many places you buy dessert bases. Press this into a springform tin and throw it into your smoker for about 10 minutes, preheated to 320°F. Make sure you have something a bit lighter for your smoke – I use GMG Premium Apple Blend Hardwood pellets on the GMG Daniel Boone. The GMG Premium Fruitwood Blend would work just as well. The aim is to not use something too harsh; you’re trying to add flavour, rather than overpower it. A quick tip – if you want to maintain the look of your springform, add tinfoil to the outside of it to make it easier to clean!
Once the base is out and cooling, it’s time to throw together the cream cheese, vanilla and sour cream until smooth. Toss in your dry ingredients and mix – you want to make sure you don’t have lumps.
Add eggs, one at a time to make sure that you don’t split the mix, and pour all that onto your cool biscuit base. Back in the smoker for another 45 minutes or until you have a slight wiggle in the middle.
As the GMG Daniel Boone is designed to cool down quickly after use, pre-heat an oven to 160° and transfer the cheesecake to this when ready. Turn the oven off, crack open the door and leave it to cool down slowly – this should help avoid the cracking, but even if the top does crack, it’s not going to change the taste, only make the finished product not so pretty.
When the cheesecake is cool, put it into the fridge for about 4 hours, although better to leave this overnight. While cooling, you can move onto the next planned dish – like Pork Belly Burnt Ends which should take about the same length of time to cook!
When you’re ready to serve, drizzle some dulce de leche or caramel sauce over the top, sprinkle some shaved chocolate and make sure to take that Instagram-worthy shot! Have a play with some flavours and see how the smoke works with your selections.
Ingredients: 1 pkt (250g) chocolate wheaten biscuits, a pinch of cinnamon, 60g butter (melted), 750g cream cheese, 125g sour cream, ¾ c sugar, 3 T vanilla essence, ½ c unsweetened cocoa, 4 T flour, 3 large eggs.