Chef Scott Kroener came along Oak Steakhouse in 2022, focusing on refined hospitality and seasonal menus that draw inspiration from a single ingredient of his. “I eat a certain ingredient and I start thinking about what would go with it. How can I get that on the plate?” he says. “It snowballed from there.”
His crème brûlée cheesecake was born out of his love of desserts – with emphasis on the plural. He tells a story about the early days with his (now) wife when he took her to his restaurant for dinner. Dessert time approached and he ordered two of his favorites: a crème brûlée and a slice of cheesecake. She reminded him she didn’t want anything and told him he couldn’t have two desserts. The chef came up with the perfect solution. “I started thinking that I could make them into one dessert. Voilà!” Kroener describes how easy it is to give this doubly delicious dessert a seasonal twist. “Take the ripest, freshest fruit that’s in season and make a chutney, salsa or compote,” he says. “Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and the fruit mixture.”
And when it comes to pulling out the torch to get the perfect brûlée top? He advises to “hold the torch a little further away than you think you should and to move the torch slowly in a circle, being careful not to burn the sugar to a black color.” He also offers these final words of wisdom: “You can always burn it up more if you need to, but you can’t ‘burn out’.” (Oak Steakhouse, 801 Clark Pl.; oaksteakhouserestaurant.com)
- 12 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 2 cups of sugar
- 3 pounds butter, melted
- 11 ounces of eggs
- 3 pounds of cream cheese
- 12 ounces of sour cream
- 10 ounces of sugar
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp vanilla
Crème Brûlée Portion:
- 2 liters of heavy cream
- 2 cups egg yolks
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- Mix the crust ingredients together, making sure all the crumbs are coated with butter, then pack the mixture into the bottom of the cheesecake pan. (Wrap the bottom of the pan with foil to prepare the water bath.)
- Prepare the cheesecake filling by combining the cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer on medium, scraping the bowl as you go.
- Slowly add eggs while stirring on low heat. Then add creme fraiche and vanilla and mix for approx. 2 1⁄2 minutes on medium, scraping down the sides as you go.
- Pour into a cheesecake mold and bake at 300 degrees in a water bath for 25 minutes.
- Turn off the oven, open the doors and leave to cool for 15 minutes.
- While the cheesecake cools, make the creme brûlée filling.
- In a steel mixing bowl. put half the sugar and all the yolks. Mix well with a whisk. Set aside.
- Place heavy cream, vanilla paste and the remaining sugar in a thick-bottomed sauce pan. Heat on high until the cream mixture begins to boil. Turn off the heat and temper in the egg yolk mixture.
- Pour the brûlée filling into a spoon held over the cheesecake layer. (This protects the cheesecake from hot creme brûlée batter.)
- Continue cooking in the water bath until it moves. (Check only after 15 minutes.)
- When completely cooled, top with raw sugar and burn it.