Sunday, November 17, 2019


It's time for sumpin' sweet.

Youngest Hawthorne has a friend who supplies us with all sorts of seafood (and now deer!) and I supply him with cheesecake.  He's even said that I make "the best cheesecake" he's ever had.  Now, I don't know about that, but I do know I make a good cheesecake.  (Thinking about it, I don't believe I've ever had a "bad" cheesecake.)   But this guy likes my cheesecakes and I will happily keep him in cheesecake heaven.

Today, I made two cheesecakes.  One big cake for the fish guy (Tuna!!!!) and one smaller cake for the Hawthornes.  And no, I didn't get a picture of the whole cake because the first one was immediately whisked away to its destination and the second one was promptly pounced upon by hungry monkeys.  All I got was pics of the slices and that will have to suffice.

 Before I give you the recipes (Yes -2 recipes - one for the 9-inch springform pan and one for the 7-inch pan.), Imonna 'splain you some stuff about makin' cheesecakes.

The main ingredient is, of course, cream cheese.  I use both full-fat and light cream cheeses (whichever I have and sometimes both) and either way, my cheesecakes come out just fine.  As for the extra dairy you add in, you can be ... creative.  I use what I have on hand.  In this case, I had sour cream and ricotta.  Cottage cheese would have worked.  Same goes for mascarpone, but I don't know too many people who have extra mascarpone sitting around in the fridges.  Eggs are involved too and I generally use the one-egg-per-cup-of-dairy ingredient rule of thumb with sometimes an extra thrown in for good measure.  As for flavorings, lemon juice/zest and vanilla do it for me.  When baking the cheesecake, I always use a bain-Marie.  That means a water bath.  (And, no, I don't know who Marie was.  I can only hope a downstairs scullery maid who was getting it on with the pastry chef.)  I wrap my filled springform pans in heavy duty foil, then place them in a larger pan into which I pour boiling water halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.  And then bake.  The bain-Marie is commonly used for custards, creating a gentle, uniform heat around the cheesecake, allowing it to cook slowly and evenly, resulting in a creamy custard with no dry edges and preventing curdling, crusting, and cracking.

For my crust, I always use a combination of ginger snaps and graham crackers.  And since I was giving away one of the cheesecakes, I used parchment paper in each springform pan.  The paper went on the bottom of my pan with excess extending out when I latched the collar around the bottom. Then I pressed in the crust and poured in the filling and baked.  This way, after the cheesecake cools in the pan, you can simply unlatch the collar and slide the entire cake off the bottom piece and nothing sticks and your cake is intact.

Always peek through the oven window and check on over-browning.  If the top seems too brown, simply cover with foil and continue cooking until cheesecake is set.

After the cheesecake cools, I like to drizzle on toppings - chocolate and caramel work for me.

 Cheesecake #1  (9-inch springform pan)

Heat oven to 325°.

1 pkg. graham crackers
24 ginger snaps
3 TB brown sugar
6 TB unsalted butter, melted
Process crackers, cookies, and sugar until even crumble.  Pour in butter and process until combined.  Press into bottom and up sides of parchment paper bottom-lined 9-inch springform pan.

 3 8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened (I used one full fat cream cheese and 2 light cream cheese)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup ricotta
1 cup sugar
juice one lemon
1 TB vanilla
4 eggs
Process cream cheese until smooth, then add in sour cream and ricotta, processing until well-combined.  Slowly process in sugar, then lemon juice, vanilla, and eggs, one at a time.

Wrap springform pan in heavy duty foil wrap and place in a larger pan.
Pour in filling.
Pour boiling water halfway up sides.
Bake at 325° - about 70-75 minutes. 
After 30 minutes, I rotated the pan.
Also, after 30 minutes, I sprinkled a streusel topping over the cheese cake.
Bake until lightly browned on top and cake still has a slight jiggle.

Let cool completely before unlatching the springform pan.

Drizzle with whatever toppings you'd like.  Recipes follow for both chocolate and caramel sauces.


For streusel topping:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch kosher salt
Mix all together until evenly combined.  If you wanted, you could add a couple tablespoons of oatmeal and maybe a 1/4 cup of crushed pecans.  It's all good!

 Cheesecake #2  (7-inch springform pan)

1/2 pkg. graham crackers
12 ginger snaps
2 TB brown sugar
1/2 stick butter, melted
Mix well.  Press into bottom and sides of springform pan.  (I used parchment paper on bottom for easy removal.)

2 pkgs. cream cheese
1/4 cup ricotta
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 TB vanilla
3 eggs
Combine as in above recipe.
Pour into prepared pan.
Wrap pan in foil.  Place in bain Marie
Bake at 325° about 70 minutes, rotating halfway through.
Let cool in pan.

 When cheesecakes have cooled completely, unlatch springform pan and remove.
Drizzle chocolate and/or caramel over top and sides.

 Chocolate Sauce
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 TB corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tsp vanilla
pinch kosher salt
Place first 5 ingredients in small saucepan over low heat.  Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, and bring to simmer.  Add in vanilla and salt.  Remove from heat.  Let cool a bit, then drizzle over cheesecake.  (Rosie Note:  Any kind of milk will work here.  I never have whole milk on hand, but always have cream and skim, so that's what I always use - the combination.)

Caramel Sauce
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla
pinch kosher salt
Combine first three ingredients over low heat, stirring to melt butter and dissolve sugar.  Simmer about 4 minutes.  Stir in vanilla and salt.
Remove from heat and let cool a bit before drizzling over cheesecake.


No comments: