Baked Blueberry Cheesecake—Prototype 2:
Last year, I brought a three-layered, patriotic cheesecake to The Home Depot's July 4th cookout for my co-workers. One of those layers was blueberry, but I felt that this layer seemed a little too greenish. So I needed to come up with a revision for the future. Rather than use 1/2 teaspoon of blue food coloring, cut it down to 3/8 teaspoon, and add 1/8 teaspoon of red. But what if that were to still yield unsatisfactory results? How about making a blueberry cheesecake—just this flavor—but in three different color formulas, close to each other? I would then have two backups to choose from in case I wasn't happy with the first revised formula (and hope like crazy to be pleased with one of the others in such a case).

It was a matter of my getting around to baking such an experimental color cheesecake. With a Home Depot bake sale coming up in late April of 2023, I finally made my move. The food colorings for the three layers would be as follows:

Top layer (last two baking installments): 3/8 teaspoon blue, 1/8 teaspoon red
Middle layer (middle two baking installments): 1/4 teaspoon blue, 1/8 teaspoon red
Bottom layer (first two baking installments): 3/8 teaspoon blue only, no red

I also made a "last-minute" decision to sweeten up the blueberry flavor a little.
3-Cheese Blend (1CT-1NC-1YG):
Prepare ahead of time 16 ounces of yogurt cheese, derived from one 32-ounce container of nonfat yogurt. If the resulting yogurt cheese falls below 16 ounces, add back enough of the whey (that was strained out from the yogurt) to make up the difference. To this yogurt cheese combine 16 ounces of whipped, lowfat cottage cheese and 16 ounces (two 8-ounce packages) of softened Neufchatel cheese ("light cream cheese").

Blueberry Concentrate:
Puree about 3 half-pint containers (or close to 18 ounces) of fresh blueberries, then put into a pan and cook over very low heat, until nearly 1/3 of the puree's weight has evaporated. Let the resulting concentrate (which should now be close to 12 ounces) cool slightly before using.

Grease a 9 1/2" (or 9") springform pan, but do not wrap foil around it yet (see below).

2 oz. melted, white chocolate
8 oz. (1 cup) 3-cheese blend (see above)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 oz. All-Bran, ground up

Place the resulting mixture in the greased pan and pre-bake without tub at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, then cool enough to comfortably touch at least the pan's upper sidewall.

1 1/4 cups + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
40 oz. (5 cups) 3-cheese blend (see above)
2 teaspoons vanilla
12 oz. (approximate) blueberry concentrate (full recipe, see above)
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
6 eggs (brown recommended, large)
Optional: heat-resistant blue and red food colorings (see comments above)

Expect close to 8 1/2 cups of the resulting batter, but do not add this to the pan all at once. Rather, this needs to be done in six installments. Wrap the pan in foil just before adding the first batter installment (to minimize the foil's disturbance and therefore its leakage risk, do not put it on any earlier).

For each of the first five installments, gently scoop about 1 5/12 cups (or between 1 1/3 and 1 1/2 cups) of batter into the pan, fully covering the surface (here's a tip—scoop small amounts of batter around the edge of the pan, letting this batter flow towards the middle on its own), and then bake this pan with its contents for 25 minutes, at 325 degrees. For these five installments here, bake with the pan in a tub filled with at least 1/4 to 1/2 inch of boiling water, but (to reduce spillage risks) do not fill the tub all the way at this point, because the whole tub-and-pan assembly is going to need to be removed from the oven (in order to comfortably add contents to the pan) between installments.

After these first five installments are done, there should be about 1 5/12 cups (or between 1 1/3 and 1 1/2 cups) of batter left, with 125 minutes of baking time reached at this point. Now comes the sixth installment—carefully add the last of this batter on top of the pan's earlier installments, fully coating the entire surface. Next, return the entire pan-and-tub assembly to the oven, with the temperature reduced to 300 degrees. At this point, fill up the tub generously with boiling water. Resume baking for another 60 minutes (based upon usage of a 9 1/2" pan).

Afterward, shut the oven off, and leave its door slightly ajar, with the cheesecake still inside—and in the tub—for an hour. Next, remove the cheesecake from the oven and tub. Continue to cool it down at room temperature for another two hours. After doing so, remove the cheesecake from pan and refrigerate.

Blueberry Cheesecake—Prototype 2 Blueberry Cheesecake—Prototype 2 (sliced)

The layered results:

Bottom: Still too greenish (cyan)
Middle: Too much purple (magenta)
Top: A decent blue (hopefully not too purple)—use this one

And so I made a good guess for that first revised formula. The "3/8 teaspoon blue + 1/8 teaspoon red" combo wins! The stage was set for my next patriotic cheesecake.

And the added sugar for the blueberry batter wasn't a bad idea either. However, the crust turned out to be unbelievably too mushy (separating the crust from the pan's bottom was a frustrating nightmare!), and the top of the cheesecake ended up rather rubbery.

As I considered this batter texture problem, I noted some things about this blueberry cheesecake when compared to certain liquid-oriented cheesecakes that I made in the past, especially pumpkin, eggnog and banana. These involved baking in multiple installments, just like blueberry. However, I often baked those in roughly three or—more recently and therefore more importantly—four installments, not six. Why, then, did I do six for this most recent blueberry one?

It was because this particular blueberry cheesecake involved three distinctive layers, each a different color. Perhaps I would have been better off with four installments on this one, but the number had to be a multiple of three in this case. Upon my deciding how many installments to bake this prototype, I felt that three was too small—that this number would be too much of a softness risk—and that six was a lot safer (the excess moisture would more easily evaporate with this number).

It was especially the batter's topmost installment—the sixth one—that had this rubber-tough texture. That installment also had the longest baking time. This led me to consider that I probably should have cut this time short, due likely to the final installment being plentifully thin.

With this three-color experiment hopefully done, I gave some thought to reverting to four installments—and also being more careful about the fourth one itself, especially with the cooking time—upon baking a possible "single-color-layered", blueberry-only cheesecake in the future. Perhaps an alternative would be to stick with six installments—but certainly with a time reduction on the sixth itself.

I also had to give some additional thought as to how long to pre-bake the crust—and/or possibly raise the temperature.

This latest cheesecake slowly but surely disappeared at my workplace (it did not seem to be one of the better bake sale items).

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