Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tall & Creamy Cheesecake

Happy November! We are one month closer to my favorite month of the year...December! I. can't. wait.  Meanwhile, I have a few recipes to share with you that I've made over the past few weeks.

Last week was my younger brother's 16th birthday!

Him then (10th birthday):

Him now:

Handsome, no?

Anyways, he's a wonderful little younger brother.  I really can't say little brother anymore, because he's 5 inches taller than me now.  This year, he threw me for a loop and asked me to make a cheesecake for his birthday.  I've never made a real cheesecake...just the no-bake kind that I love and adore...but, like the good sister I am, I agreed, and then got to work researching recipes.  I started to realize that:
1) cheesecakes can be pretty easy 
2) cheesecakes can also be very difficult
3) cheesecakes have an insane amount of cream cheese in them
4) the ultimate challenge is for your cheesecake not to crack
5) I had no idea what a water bath was

Rather than use a recipe off of a blog, I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks Baking: From my home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  She has a recipe called "Tall and Creamy Cheesecake: A Basic that looked promising. Plus, she had tons of tips and instructions for making this.  Let's just say I'm a big fan of her book.  

One water bath and 6 hours later, I give you this.

I was more than ecstatic that my cheesecake did not crack, was not overly brown, and did not stick to the pan!!! Small joys in this baker's life.  

Unfortunately, we didn't cut the cheesecake until after dark which makes for less than optimal photos.

The birthday boy makes weird faces when blowing out candles.

And I don't have a light box (yet) so I apologize for the pictures.  But it was delicious.  And creamy.  And delicious.  Did I say that already? And now I want to make another one in all sorts of flavors.  We drizzled our slices with melted chocolate chips, caramel sauce, and pecans.

I followed the directions to a T.  The only things I changed were that I cooked my cheesecake at 300 degrees because my spring form pan's directions (from Crate and Barrel) said to because of the coating and then I used half sour cream and half cream. 

The recipe really isn't difficult, just time consuming. So be prepared to spend the afternoon loving on your cheesecake as it bakes.  

Stay tuned for more of what I've been baking lately!

Tall and Creamy Cheesecake: A Basic
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
(printable recipe)

For the crust:

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter, melted

For the cheesecake:

2 pounds (4-8oz boxes) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or combo of two

To make the crust:  
Foil wrap up the outer sides and butter a 9-inch springform pan-one that has sides 2 3/4 inches high.  Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl.  Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist.  Turn the ingredients into the springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. 

Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the springform on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.  

To make the cheesecake:
Put a kettle of water on to boil or pot of water.

Working with a stand mixer, preferable fitted with a paddled attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 4 minutes.  With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat for another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light.  Beat in the vanilla.  Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition-you want a well-aerated batter.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.  

Put the foil-wrapped spring form pan in a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around it.  

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that there is nothing left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the pan.  The batter will reach the rim of the pan.  Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into it to come halfway up the sides of the pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top should be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just  a little above the rim of the pan.  Turn the oven off and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon.  Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup our of the oven, life the springform pan our of the roaster-be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil-and remove the foil.  Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours; overnight is better.

At serving time, remove the sides of the springform pan and set the cake on a serving platter. 

1 comment:

  1. Yum! It looks like yours came out perfectly. I made one last year with berries that I loved, but I want to try your recipe next!