Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Fantasy is in the Cheesecake...

It started as a sort of fantasy…I thought it would be cool if I could become so good at preparing a particular food item it could become sort of my signature. You know, when someone was having a gathering where they wanted everyone to bring something, they would say…’oh do you think Janet would bring her blank’. How do I come up with this stuff? Anyway, I decided the said ‘food item’ should be fun, a treat and something not everyone prepared. Not much use in becoming a specialist at say, baked potatoes…Well I decided on cheesecake.
I set about practicing, reading, researching and collecting various cheesecake recipes. And I’m here to tell you there is some learning to be done on this subject. Some of the early editions cracked like the grand canyon (lots of fruit on top can usually disguise this issue), some didn’t get cooked all the way through, some were so rich they were just too much, but I stuck with it and it has paid off. Actually, my only request for cheesecake came from one of my nieces when she was really quite young, she told my sister that she hoped I would make my pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving! From young taste buds I took that as a huge complement!

So last weekend, with guests coming to dinner, I thought a cheesecake would make a good desert. I chose one of my personal favorites, Lemon Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust – Bon Appetit, March 2005. This one is especially light and the combination of lemon and ginger is pretty dreamy!


2 C ground gingersnap cookies (Trader Joe’s has a great gingersnap that works well)

6 TBS (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

5 8-oz packages cream cheese, room temperature

2C sugar

¼ tsp salt

7 lg. eggs

3 C (24 oz) sour cream

2 TBS (packed) finely grated lemon peel

2 TBS fresh lemon juice

For Crust:

Preheat oven to 350D.

Stir cookie crumbs and butter in medium bowl until evenly moistened. Press mixture onto bottom of 9 inch diameter removable bottom spring form pan with 3 inch high sides. Bake crust until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325D.

Stack 3 large sheets of foil on work surface.

Place same cake pan in center. Gather foil snugly around pan bottom and up sides to waterproof.
For Filling:

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth and fluffy.

Gradually beat in sugar, then salt. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in sour cream, grated lemon peel, and lemon juice. Pour filling into pan.

Place wrapped cake pan in large roasting pan.

Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides on cake pan. (I set the roasting pan on the pulled out oven rack and fill it there – sounds obvious, but believe me, once I tried to walk across the kitchen with the roasting pan full of water – let’s just say I didn’t need to do that twice!)

Bake cake until filling is slightly puffed and moves only slightly when the pan is shaken gently about 1 hour and 25 minutes. ( You really need to check this. I have had them be ready, spot on, at an hour and 25 and other times, at 5 minute increments, it has needed an additional 15 minutes – same recipe, same pan, same oven – I think it has to do with star alignment…)

Now when the cake is ready, remove the roasting pan from the oven, set the whole thing on top of the stove and let all of it cool down, then remove the cake from the water bath, remove the foil and continue to cool. This is a tip I found in some very fine print on some cheese cake experts website, it’s what keeps the darn thing from cracking! There I shared a big cheesecake secret.

Chill uncovered in the refrigerator until cold, cover and keep chilled.

Cut around pan sides, carefully loosen pan bottom from sides and push up pan bottom to release cake. Place cake (still on pan bottom ) on platter. Garnish with lemon leaves. And there you have it…no point waiting around until someone remembers you’re the one that makes cheesecake…just volunteer!

1 comment:

  1. I love anything lemon so I am going to have a go with this one. Thank you for doing all the leg work.