Daring Bakers Challenge: Cheesecake Centerpiece


The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

The only other cheesecake I made prior to this challenge was a Lavender Ricotta Cheesecake as part of my March Foodbuzz 24,24,24 post as a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher.  I was excited to try more cheesecake “flavors” and use this infamous recipe. Fellow daring bakers came up with some fantastic flavors I was getting dizzy just thinking about what cheesecake I should make.  Well…I was still high from my edible flower culinary experiments so I figured I’d do another edible bloom flavor.  I thought about roses but people in my household were not so enamored with it.  For some reason it reminds them of perfume (even though the food does not taste like perfume!).  I already did lavender so this time I made a  HIBISCUS CHEESECAKE.

hibiscusHibiscus (hibiscus sabdariffa) also called “flor de jamaica” is widely available at Latin Markets or wholefoods store. They often are packaged as dried flowers  and taste  similar to that of cranberries–sour and tangy. In the Caribbean, it  is called sorelle while in the Philippines and Australia, they are called roselle or rosella.  In some African countries, it is called bissap and it is known as  karkady in Egypt. Whatever is the name, it is widely used in cooking,  mainly in drinks.  It has been said that it is the main ingredient in the Red Zinger tea.

I’ve played around with hibiscus before making hibiscus jam and  hibiscus coulis and liked its sour and tangy taste.  Following Abbey’s basic recipe, I used 1/2 cup of homemade hibiscus jam and did away with the vanilla, lemon juice and liquor.  My first try came out really rich even with the tangy hibiscus mixed in.  I used a homemade granola crust and baked it in a 9-inch (2 inch high) pan without a water bath.  The top did not crack but it sank.


For my second try, I used a 6-inch cheesecake pan that is 3 inches high.  I had an oatmeal cocoa crust which I prebaked for 10  minutes. I  baked the cheesecake in a water bath this time.  To make it lighter, I used fat-free cream cheese and added sugar free condensed milk (instead of flour) to make up for the lack of fat.  The result was a lighter cheesecake (which everybody loved!) with a tangy, crunchy hibiscus flavor.


Topped with more hibiscus jam and syrup, it made for a stunning centerpiece!  Thanks, Jenny, for this challenge.  I’ve already made mini versions of it and testing other flavors for the holidays!




For Oatmeal Cocoa Crust:

  • 1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened ground chocolate
  • 2 tbs sugar

For Cheesecake Filling:

  • 3 boxes (8 oz each) fat free cream cheese, softened
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 can (14 oz)sweetened condensed milk (I use homemade sugarless condensed  milk)
  • 1/2 cup hibiscus jam
  • 2 tsp orange extract


  1. To make the crust, mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Pour into 8 inch cheesecake pan and press onto the bottom. Bake in a preheated 400F for 10 minutes.  Set aside.
  2. To make filling, blend  cheese, milk, orange extract and eggs in an electric mixer until smooth. Add hibiscus jam and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon, incorporating the hibiscus carefully.
  3. Pour cheesecake batter into the prepared pan.  Place in a water bath and bake for 55 minutes at 350F. Remove from oven when center is almost set (still jiggly and not firm). Run a thin knife between cake and rim of pan. Refrigerate uncovered  for at least 2 1/2  hours before serving. If making ahead, wrap airtight when cool and chill up to 2 days. Spread hibiscus jam with syrup on top just before serving.


If you want to use regular cream cheese, here is Abbey’s recipe which is the basis for the above fat-free one:

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil “casserole” shaped pans from the grocery store. They’re 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

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» Audax Artifex said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 12:04 }

I think your cake looks wonderful love that deep dark purple and the idea of flowers is inspired. I have hear of using flowers but hibiscus is so nice. I will to try some. Bravo on a great effort. Yours Audax from Australia.

» SimplePleasure said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 12:04 }

Oh wow looks delicious! Although I have no idea what hibiscus is or what it taste like. this looks like something I would very much like to try.

» sara said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 01:04 }

Your cheesecake is so gorgeous! I love the colors. It sounds fantastic. :)

» jenn said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 02:04 }

That cheese cake looks awesome. I’ve never tried hibiscus jam before. I may just have to buy my self a jar.

» mahima said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 02:04 }

Pretty unusual choice must say, sounds vv tempting :)

» jo said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 08:04 }

Great job on your challenge. The flavours sound really delicious and the pics are awesome.

» Natasha - 5 Star Foodie said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 09:04 }

Beautiful! I love the hibiscus here!

» anna said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 10:04 }

That is beautiful! I need to get my hands on some hibiscus – this is the second time this week I’ve seen a delicious-looking hibiscus dessert and it’s a flower I’ve never tried!

» gine said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 02:04 }

mmm … looks lovely and supertasty :-) !!

» Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 03:04 }

I’ve enver tried hibiscus, but having heard that it is somewhat cranberry-ish, I’m very keen. I love the deep purple colour it gives the topping. Very pretty and very inventive!

» Jamie said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 03:04 }

I have never tasted hibiscus…but this cheesecake looks incredible! Well done! I loved this DB Challenge!

» Kitchen M said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 07:04 }

That’s pretty cool! I’d never seen dried hibiscus and didn’t even think it was available in some speciality grocery stores.

So, having water bath helps keeping the cheesecake from sinking?
Although both look great, your second one really looks perfect!

» Jill of Jillicious Desserts said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 07:04 }

I love that you’ve made hibiscus jam and hibiscus coulis!! Your cheesecake looks so delicious!! Your crust sounds really good–I’m going to have to try both very soon! Great job!!

» Jude said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 08:04 }

Using hibiscus is so unusual and interesting. The higher 6-inch cheesecake looks really impressive.

» Lauren said: { Apr 27, 2009 - 10:04 }

Mmm, your cheesecake looks amazing, and the hibiscus sounds divine =D!!

» Molly said: { Apr 28, 2009 - 01:04 }

You cheesecake is gorgeous. I would have never thought of eating hibiscus, and I’ve certainly never seen hibiscus jam, but sour is a good idea for cheesecake to give it a bite.

» morgana said: { Apr 28, 2009 - 03:04 }

Mmmmm. Original and yummy…

» Dimah said: { Apr 28, 2009 - 07:04 }

Mmmm….Looks super yummy!Nice job!

» cinzia said: { Apr 28, 2009 - 08:04 }

Fantastic cake!
I think hibiscus you are talking about is named Karkadé in Italian, it’s famous a hot aromated tea with that.
What do you mean with “my edible flower collection”… you grow them or had a challenge about them?

» Rosa said: { Apr 28, 2009 - 12:04 }

A gorgeous cheesecake! What an original flavor combo! Beautiful!



» Marika said: { Apr 28, 2009 - 11:04 }

What a beauty! Hibiscus? How inspired!!

» asti said: { Apr 28, 2009 - 11:04 }

Stunning! I never tried cooking with hibiscus, but it looked and sounded delicious. Love love love your presentation, so enticing and mouth watering

» JMom said: { Apr 28, 2009 - 11:04 }

How can something that looks so delicious be fat free? That’s almost too good to be true :) That’s amazing and the flavors you chose are certainly unique. Great job!

» Elyse said: { Apr 29, 2009 - 12:04 }

Hibiscus cheesecake sounds FABULOUS!! How creative. And teh final presentation is just stunning. I’m so impressed.

» Chantal said: { Apr 29, 2009 - 10:04 }

Lol, I saw your post and I was like hibiscus? because what we call hibiscus is a completely different flower, then I scrolled down and saw the pic and said oh! sorrel!

I’ve made cheesecake with sorrel before (sprinkled it with sugar and added some fresh ginger then simmered it down so it became a sort of chutney allowed it to cool then swirled it through the cheesecake batter), everyone loved it…they thought it was quite different. Although sorrel is traditionally drank at christmas time here (Jamaica) not many people know that you can eat it, so they were pleasantly surprised to find that it tastes kinda like a cranberry without the somewhat bitter-tartness.

Your cheesecake looks amazing!

» Christi said: { Apr 29, 2009 - 03:04 }

what creativity! i’ve never been a fan of hibiscus, but i’ve only had it in tea. Now i want to try it in cheesecake!

» JennyBakes said: { Apr 30, 2009 - 03:04 }

This is so beautiful, and I love the addition of oats to the crust. I have also bookmarked the sugarless condensed milk recipe because I’m on this iced coffee kick and the amount of sugar I’ve consumed with the condensed milk is astounding.

Thanks for being a part of this challenge, and I love how you experimented with the recipe to make it lighter!

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