Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rosie Makes A Most Excellent Cheesecake.

Wednesday, August 11, was Daughter Hawthorne's birthday and she requested a lemon cheesecake. I am about to give you the recipe for what might very well be The. Best.Cheesecake. Try it and see if you don't agree.
 The Best Cheesecake  
2 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
  2 cups cottage cheese  
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs  
6 TB cornstarch
 6 TB flour
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 TB vanilla extract  
1 stick melted butter, cooled
1 pint sour cream  
Process each ingredient, adding one at a time and scraping sides with spatula. Pour filling into 10-inch springform pan with prepared crust. Bake 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes - until firm around the edges. Turn off oven. Let stand in oven for 2 hours. Remove and cool completely before glazing or topping.  
Process in food processor:
2 1/4 cups graham cracker/gingersnap mixture
 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted
 Press evenly into bottom and sides of 10 inch springform pan.
First, I prepared my crust.
Equal amounts of graham crackers and gingersnaps (2 1/2 cups total) 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 stick butter, melted
I processed the graham crackers and gingersnaps then added in the brown sugar and processed. Sweet little Beau Bo above. I try to incorporate my 4-legged animals in my photos as much as possible. Always look for them.
Add melted butter through the feed tube, processing.

Press evenly into bottom and up sides of a ten-inch springform pan. Here's my mise en place for the filling:
2 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened 2 cups cottage cheese 1 1/2 cups sugar 4 eggs 6 TB cornstarch 6 TB flour juice and zest of 1 lemon 1 TB vanilla extract 1 stick melted butter, cooled 1 pint sour cream
Softened cream cheese went in first. Process away.
Cottage cheese next. Keep processing and scrape down sides with a spatula.

Add sugar through feed tube, processing.
Add eggs, one at a time, processing and scraping after each addition.
Add in corn starch and process.
Add in flour and process.
Lemon juice through feed tube.
Zest going in.
Vanilla in.
Melted butter.
Sour cream. Keep processing.
Pour into prepared pan. You know how I've been saying after adding each ingredient and processing to spatula down the sides? That's because I forgot to. I ended up with a few lumps of cream cheese in the batter. That's really a non-issue for me.
But that's what the lumpiness is. Set on baking pan and bake in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour 10 minutes. Turn off oven and let cheesecake stand in oven for 2 hours.
The crack always comes during the 2 hour set. It's normal. I like to note the pattern of the crack. Let cool completely before topping or glazing.
Remove from pan. My crust turned out perfectly. I was amazed. I applied the crust as best I could, but it's difficult pressing it evenly up the sides. Frustrated, at the end, I finally swiped the top of the crust fairly evenly, took the scrapings, and adhered them to the sides. While the cheesecake was cooling in the fridge I started on my chocolate leaves.
I took a handful of semisweet chocolate chips, added a bit of shortening, and nuked until melted. Stir until nice and smooth.
I picked a bunch of bay leaves ...
... and painted each leaf with the chocolate. Refrigerate on a metal pan. When set, peel leaves off, working quickly. If chocolate starts melting, place back in fridge.

Decorate cake with the leaves and refrigerate. Sometimes I stick the leaves in so they're standing up but my cheesecake, even though I had refrigerated it, was still too warm inside and my little chocolate leaves sort of melted over. So I just placed them on the cool surface.
Next, I started on my spun sugar.
Measure exactly: 1 cup sugar (scoop and sweep to measure) 1/3 cup water Let me give you some basic directions for making a caramel because I would imagine novice cooks might tend to quiver when they hear the words "caramel" or "soft-ball stage" or "hard-ball stage" bandied about. You want to be sure sugar crystals don't form on the sides of the pan. If they do, you're in for trouble since the whole syrup can crystallize ... ... and look like this sorry mess. I did this just for my viewers so you know what it looks like to screw up. For illustrative purposes only. Totally planned. To avoid crystallization there are certain steps for prevention: First, you want a moderately heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid, so that the steam condensing on the lid will wash down the sides of the pan and prevent sugar crystals from forming. Second, be sure the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is perfectly clear before you continue on with some serious boiling. Third, once you start boiling, never stir the syrup. Only swirl and swish the pan by its handle. Fourth, pick a dry day to do this. Humidity can affect the caramel because sugar attracts water. Caramel is formed by adding sugar (a solute) to water (a solvent), called a sugar solution, and boiling the mixture to the proper temperature. The high heat dissolves the sugar, evaporates the water, and breaks apart the sugar's molecules, eventually reaching a supersaturation of the sugar molecules in the water. When broken apart and concentrated in a supersaturated solution, sugar molecules are highly unstable. They want to come back together at any chance to return to their previous crystalline structure. An unclean pot or any jarring or stirring of the supersaturated solution at the wrong time can send them back to their original crystalline pattern and dry state, crystallizing the mixture in a sad mess and ruining the entire batch. You want to be sure the sugar is dissolved completely before boiling. If one tiny speck of a sugar crystal that hasn't been dissolved falls into the mixture during cooking, the whole batch will return to a solid state. When you pour the water over the sugar, you want to wash down the sides of the pan to get rid of any crystals adhering to the sides. Blend the sugar and water in the saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Remove from heat and swirl the pan by its handle to be sure the sugar has dissolved completely and the liquid is perfectly clear. When the mixture is clear, cover the pan and boil the syrup for several minutes over moderately high heat.
Uncover and continue boiling, swirling slowly.

Continue boiling and swirling ...
... until it's a light caramel brown. Be careful here since the syrup can go south very quickly. Remove from heat and continue swirling. It will continue to darken. Set the bottom of the pan in cold water to cool it and stop the cooking.
I handed Daughter Hawthorne and her merry band of revelers each a fork and showed them how to dip and spin sugar.
This is the fun part.

Have at it, ladies.
Why not add some sliced strawberries?

I think they enjoyed this.

When was the last time you were at a spun sugar party?
Enjoy the videos.


Marion said...

Rosie, you've outdone yourself on this one.

But one of these days you should post a picture of your bay tree, a picture of which really belongs in a hort. textbook.

Anonymous said...
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zzzadig said...

WOW, that looks like a memorial to the Flying Zambini family! What fun!