Kerry vs. The Cheesecake Factory: a Tuxedo Cheesecake Showdown

I am a firm believer that any time is a good time for cake.  This is especially true first thing in the morning before tastebuds have been doused and ruined by unhealthy cereals and juices, and when close talking is always strictly prohibited.  I’ve been known to shamelessly slice myself a piece or two before the toll of 8AM.  However I have no sense of restraint, so my early morning cake eating is akin to riding through a bad coke binge, or so I’d assume.  I will take one lick of frosting, then by 9AM my lips are coated in a thick, sticky film of chocolate,  half the cake is missing and my pants are somehow missing.  Make no mistake, I fully endorse well-balanced meals, but I also believe that if you don’t allow yourself a slice of cake to welcome the dawn while donning Mr Bubble pajama pants, then really, what’s the point of anything anymore?

Cake mix a-mixin'

The totem of all cakes is, of course, cheesecake.  There’s no contest.  Like many sweets aficionados, I am drawn to cheesecake with the same propensity and amorous delight that wild mares are drawn to raging stallion boners.  Only my estrous cycles run much longer, and the only cure is more cheesecake.

Even considering the likes of thick, molten fudge-filled lava cakes, chilled ice cream-stuffed cakes and Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, cheesecake reigns supreme.  The preeminent matriarch within the cake lineage, if you will.  I mean, there is a whole factory-restaurant where cheesecakes are carted to patrons like precious, diamond-studded nonpareil, and they practically cost about the same. What more proof is needed that cheesecake is, indeed, the bee’s knees?

Starbucks Via is excellent for baking -- even when expired.

As per usual I got to my kitchen and began whipping up a bomb-ass cake that I’m particularly proud of: a tuxedo cheesecake made with layers of dense white chocolate mascarpone cheese and chocolate Swiss buttercream, sandwiched between billowy fudge cake slices, and covered in a chocolate buttercream frosting. I much prefer to use mascarpone in cheesecake than cream cheese, as it’s sweeter, creamier, and much better suited for desserts than the latter.  When I take a bite of cream cheese-based cheesecakes, I always feel like an unsuspecting toddler that’s just been spoon fed a wad of pre-chewed saltine crackers mixed with honey.  I’m left feverishly smacking my lips and taking gulps of water, praying desperately that the ticky-tacky, viscous bite doesn’t get lodged in my throat as I try to swallow it.  It’s horrifying.

We’ve already established that cheesecake is the bomb, but it’s not exactly cost efficient to run to The Cheesecake Factory every time you get hot under the collar and need your fix, which brings me to my experiment.  The tuxedo cheesecake sold at TCF was very similar to the one I was making in my own kitchen, but the listed price tag wasn’t really jiving with me.  So while I was mixing, measuring and leveling, I was also documenting the cost of each ingredient (down to the price-per-teaspoon) to compare whether or not I could feasibly beat the quality of their cakes and beat them by price.  Below is an outline of the cost of my cheesecake and theirs:

My Tuxedo Cheesecake
18 oz chocolate:                                 $3.75
6 oz white chocolate:                          $5.00
16 oz mascarpone:                             $12.00
2 cups of flour:                                    $0.60
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa:             $3.72
2 cups of natural cane sugar:              $2.91
1 packet Starbucks via:                       $0.83
6 cage-free, organic eggs:                   $2.50
1/2 cup organic canola oil:                   $1.51
1 cup homemade, organic buttermilk:  $0.34
1 tsp salt                                              $0.02
2 tsp baking soda                                $0.04
1 tsp baking powder                            $0.06
3 cups of butter:                                  $7.50
1 cup powdered sugar:                        $1.10
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream:           $1.50
TOTAL:                                               $43.32

Cheesecake Factory Tuxedo Cheesecake
1 Cheesecake:                                   $46.95
TOTAL:                                              $46.95

At this point, some I think a lot of people would say screw it, and instead hand over a few extra dollars for a ready-made cake to save themselves from post-baking dishes and subsequent malady of dishpan hands, which is totally understandable. Dishpan hands are ass. But there’s one thing I forgot to mention here.  My recipe?  It doesn’t make just one cake, it makes two.

Final total for my Tuxedo Cheesecake: $21.66 per cake.

Price-wise my cake was the obvious winner, costing almost half the price of that other cheesecake, but how about taste?  Attempting to be as objective as possible (which means my view is heavily weighted on my side), the consistency and taste of each were very similar, but not identical since my goal was to exceed, not match, their cake’s quality.  Each were equally rich, though mine was much denser, especially given that it’s served in its frozen state rather than just chilled. I’m also not sure of the quality of ingredients used in The Cheesecake Factory’s cakes, but the homemade version was made with sustainable, organic ingredients and minimally processes sugars which maximizes its nutritional and hoity-toity value.

Sadly, there are those that would still prefer to run down and flippantly purchase a cake than spend a few hours in their kitchen making one, regardless of how wide the price and taste margin, which is a shame.  Aside from saving a few extra dollars, there’s an enormous amount of pride gained when you develop and construct your own food.  Besides, nobody wants to sleep with someone who doesn’t cook.  So if you’d still rather buy your cheesecake than make it, then you’ll soon find yourself sitting in the passenger’s side of your best friend’s ride, and you better not even try come to holler at me.

 

TUXEDO CHEESECAKE

Tuxedo Cheesecake

Recipe: Tuxedo Cheesecake

SummaryA very rich white chocolate mascarpone and chocolate Swiss buttercream filling sandwiched between two layers of fudge cake. An economical rival to The Cheesecake Factory’s version.

Preparation time: 2 hour(s) 25 minute(s)

Cooking time: 35 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 15-25

Ingredients

For the Fudge Cake (adapted from Ina’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe)

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chilled buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large, free range eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet Starbucks Via dissolved in 1 cup of near-boiling water

For the Chocolate Swiss Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 9 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 4 egg whites

For the White Chocolate Mascarpone Filling

  • 16 oz mascarpone
  • 6 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 9 oz semisweet chocolate

Instructions

For the Fudge Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line four 8″ cake pans (or two if not divvying up into two cakes) with parchment paper, and lightly grease and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. In a bowl, sift and whisk together all the dry ingredients and set aside. In a stand mixer, combine eggs, buttermilk, and oil and whisk together until just combined. Using the paddle attachment, start mixing the wet ingredients on low speed while slowly adding the dry ingredients, ensuring all is properly incorporated.
  3. Add the cup of coffee and mix until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula, ensuring any hidden clumps of dry ingredients are found and dealt with. The batter will have a very thin consistency.
  4. Pour half of the batter, roughly 2 1/2 cups, into each prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out dry. Allow cake to cool for about 15 minutes and then flip them over onto a wire rack to continue to cool while you make the filling.

For the Chocolate Swiss Buttercream Frosting

  1. Place a large strip of parchment paper inside two cake pans each so a bit of the parchment hangs over the outside of the cake pan. This will be helpful in releasing the filling after cooling.
  2. In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 3 minutes or until light yellow and fluffy.
  3. In a double boiler over medium heat, melt the chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Combine sugar and egg whites in a *clean, dry heat proof bowl and set over a pan of water on medium to medium-low heat. Heat up the egg whites while stirring frequently until they register at 160 degrees on a candy thermometer, making sure to not raise the heat on the stove too much otherwise the eggs will start to cook, which is not what you want. Remove from heat and beat eggs on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, or until stiff, glossy peaks form. *It is important to use a clean bowl when mixing the egg whites, as well as clean beaters, otherwise they will not whip and you will have to start over.
  5. Add chocolate to the stand mixer with the butter mixture and beat on low for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in whipped egg whites.
  7. Pour mixture into two prepared cake pans and put in fridge for one hour to set.

For the White Chocolate Mascarpone Filling

  1. Place a large strip of parchment paper inside two cake pans each so a bit of the parchment hangs over the outside of the cake pan. This will be helpful in releasing the filling after freezing.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt the white chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Once the white chocolate has cooled, place mascarpone and white chocolate into a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low for 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Whisk together the heavy cream and sugar until semi-stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold heavy cream into mascarpone mixture and pour half the mixture into each prepared cake pan.
  6. Place in freezer to set for one hour.

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  1. In a double boiler melt the semisweet chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed until yellow and fluffy.
  3. Turn mixer on low and slowly add chocolate, mixing for 1 to 2 minutes until fully incorporated.

To Assemble

  1. Slice the fudge cakes in half lengthwise and set top half aside.
  2. Spread a very small amount of buttercream frosting on the bottom half and place the chilled chocolate Swiss buttercream layer on top.
  3. Place white chocolate mascarpone layer on top of the chocolate Swiss buttercream layer, and spread a very small amount of buttercream frosting on top to ensure proper adhesion of the cake. Place the top half of the fudge cake on top of the mascarpone layer.
  4. Spread a thin “crumb” layer of buttercream frosting all over the cake — this does not have to be pretty. Think of this as the primer for the cake so no crumbs get into the finished frosting layer. Place in fridge for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crumb layer has hardened.
  5. Spread the remaining buttercream frosting over the cakes and garnish with chopped white chocolate, sliced almonds, chocolate chips, powdered sugar, or whatever you’d like.
  6. Now you can holler at me.

Quick notes

This recipe will make two regular 8″ round cakes, or one very large one if you decide to not divvy up into two separate cakes. THIS CAKE MUST BE KEPT FROZEN

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