If you ever stumble upon a Copeland's of New Orleans restaurant stop in and have a piece of their signature cheesecake. It is light and fluffy and smooth as rich cream. The cheesecake can be decked out with a variety of toppings (praline is my favorite), but it also comes "Napoleon" style, where a layer of cheesecake is sandwiched between two layers of yellow pudding cake. Delicious.
For years I've been hunting for a copycat version of Copeland's Cheesecake Napoleon and in all that time I've only been able to find one recipe. One. In the whole world wide web. And according to that one recipe, Copeland's cheesecake is no-bake. Hummm. Like Jell-O cheesecake?
Intrigued, I decided to kludge together random pieces-parts or different recipes and come up with my own version of Cheesecake Napoleon. Here it is…
First I made the no-bake cheesecake layer:
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-8oz tub of Cool Whip topping
* Beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
* Gently fold in the Cool Whip topping.
* Drape one 8" cake pan with two 30" pieces of plastic wrap. Center the first piece of the plastic wrap in the center of the pan. Fit the plastic wrap to the contours of the pan drape the excess over the side. Do the same with the other piece, positioning it perpendicular to the first piece.
* Dump the cheesecake mixture into the prepared pan and smooth until flat.
*Cover the flattened top of the cheesecake with the plastic wrap that was draped over the sides of the pan. Gently press the plastic wrap into the cheesecake, flattening the cheesecake even more and making sure it conforms to the shape of the pan.
* Freeze the cheesecake (and the pan) for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Next bake a yellow cake. Any yellow cake will do, but it needs to be moist. Over the last month I baked five different yellow cakes for Cake Central's June Scratch-Off, and from that experience I decided to try a modified Downy Yellow Cake recipe. I liked the Downy cake's texture and ease of mixing, but I really loved the taste of Sylvia Weinstock's Classic yellow cake. Maybe a combination of the two would give me that elusive "perfect" yellow cake. I used all the ingredients called for in the Downy recipe but added 1/2 cup of sour cream, 4 additional tablespoons of butter, an extra teaspoon of vanilla.
Mixing the cake was a snap:
After the yellow cakes are cooled and the cheesecake is frozen solid, start the assembly. 1) Remove the crown from the top of the cake with a serrated knife. 2) Stack the layers: yellow cake at the bottom (cut side toward cheesecake), cheesecake in the middle, yellow cake on top (cut side toward cheesecake). 3) Let the cheesecake soften up a bit and using a spatula work smooth the cheesecake into the gaps between the layers until it looks like one continuous tower of goodness.
Slice a piece of Cheesecake Napoleon and smother in your favorite topping. I used raspberry preserves and whipped cream on mine, but let your imagination run free!
But does it taste good?
Well yes, kinda. It taste okay, but it's not "Copeland's". Both recipes need some tweaking. The cheesecake needs a lot more flavor, and the yellow cake ended up denser than I wanted. Next time I'm gonna use Crème Fraiche instead of Cool Whip, and adjust a few ingredients in the cake to try and lighten it up.
I'll also get a few slices of the real stuff so I can compare the two side-by-side.
See how willing I am to suffer for my craft?
No really, I am…