There is cheesecake, and then there is cheesecake. For the past 4 years, I've strived to become something of a cheesecake connoisseur. I've eaten cheesecake from dozens of different dining establishments, tasted dozens of the home-baked varieties, and whipped up a few on my own.
No cheesecake, however, can hold a candle to that derived from my Grandmother's recipe. The ingredients list is rather simple, the preparation only slightly more difficult, yet the end result yields a flavor so complex and rich you can't believe your taste buds.
So, you'd like to try this out for yourself? Creation of the Chosen Cheesecake can be carried out using the follow instructions. This recipe is scaled out for a 1.6" high cheesecake in a 9x13" pan. This will give you 20 satisfyingly-sized slices, although to say it serves 20 may be deluding yourself. People will want another piece before they've finished their first, without fail. So let's be a bit more conservative and say it will feed 15 hungry cheesecake connoisseurs.
You'll notice that at first glance, my recipe appears to be infinitely more complicated than that of others in this node. The reason is simple; when I first started cooking from recipes, I messed up a lot of things due to the little assumptions that pile up when cooking from tersely worded recipes. Most of them assume a moderate level of familiarity with cooking procedures, none of which I had retained from my Home Economics class almost a decade or so ago. "Blend crust ingredients? In what order? What should I expect in the processes? GAH!" It's enough to deter would-be pastry chefs like myself. So in order to make the process infinitely more transparent than the workings of our government, I've chosen to go into a bit more detail than most recipe writers. Experienced bakers will no doubt frown on me for my verbosity, but I shall pay them no heed. Just don't let the length of this recipe deter you, it's really not as complicated as it looks.
Master Ingredient List
Tools for the Job
Measure your Ingredients
In order to prevent accidents made from haste or human error, it is always best to measure most of your ingredients out beforehand. Use the lists below, broken down by section, to measure out your ingredients. For this recipe, these only include sugar and vanilla extract, since everything else is part of the preparation. Nonetheless, it's a good habit to get into.
Make the Crust
There are two types of crust that are effective on this cheesecake - Cinnamon graham cracker and honey graham cracker. All one needs to do to achieve either is purchase a different variety of graham cracker. If one is in a pinch, one could use plain graham crackers and a dash of cinnamon or a few tablespoons of honey mixed in with the butter.
- graham crackers (2 cup)
- sugar (1 1/2 tbsp)
- butter (7 1/2 tbsp)
- Take the graham crackers and put them into a blender or food processor. You want them to essentially become graham dust. Alternately, you can attempt to pulverize them with a rolling pin after sealing a few in a large ziplock bag. Both methods work well.
- Measure out the graham cracker powder. Everything over the necessary amount you dispose of or consume at your leisure. I recommend pouring the leftovers into a tall glass of milk as a refreshing snack. You can set the graham crackers aside for now.
- Take the butter, set it in a microwave-safe dish, and place it in the microwave. At this point, if you were unable to acquire flavored graham crackers, you may add the aformentioned honey or cinnamon to the warm melted butter. You want to melt the butter into a soup. Use a spoon to whip the remaining globules into oblivion.
- Pour the graham cracker particles and sugar into the butter, making sure to mix thoroughly.
At this point, the crust mixture should have the texture of mildly wet sand, and should be easy to work with.
- Line the bottom of the pan with the crust mixture. Try to keep it even, but if there is extra crust, place it towards the outsides so it slopes towards the center. The easiest way to spread the crust around is with a large spoon.
- Place inside the over for 15 minutes on 375 degrees to blind bake the crust. Remove and set aside.
Make the Filling
The first thing you'll notice about the filling recipe is that it doesn't call for lemon, flour, salt, or any sort of other ingredients besides the basics. This is because the texture of this cheesecake is designed to be light and fluffy, totally contrasting with the splendid cheesecakiness. It is a purist’s cheesecake, so no other flavoring will be dominant. This recipe can be modified into a "X Cheesecake," where X is some fruit or other flavor, but that's on your head. What follows is just bare bones, top-notch cheesecakecraftery.
- cream cheese (24 oz)
- sugar (1 cup)
- eggs (3 whole)
- vanilla extract (1/2 tsp)
- Use a knife to cut the cream cheese up into segments. If you have access to a microwave, you may put the cream cheese in there, on high for approximately 45 to 60 seconds in order to soften it.
- Place about 8 oz worth of the cream cheese into a mixing bowl, and blend with the hand mixer until velvety. Add in another 8 oz,, blend further. Continue until all the cream cheese has been mixed as well as physically possible.
- Break an egg, and mix it into the cream cheese. Once smooth, add another egg, and so on until all of the eggs have been expended.
- Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Mix in the sugar.
- Pour the mixture into the pan, atop your semi-baked crust. Use the flexible spatula to ensure every last drop of the delicious cheesecake essence makes it into the pan.
- Use the spatula to shape the filling and ensure it is spread evenly throughout the pan.
- Use some paper towel to clear up any splotches of cheesecake on the pan. Any stray bits of mix that aren't in the large mass filling the pan will cook quickly, burn, and stink up the house.
- Cover the 9" x 13" pan and place inside a larger cake pan or baking sheet. Insert into the oven, and pour enough water into the larger pan until the smaller pan is surrounded by at least 1/4 to 3/8 inch of water. Cheesecake is very delicate, thanks to the eggs, and if heated up too quickly, will not cook properly. So we've created a sort of bain marie here to slowly heat the cheesecake up and ensure even distribution of heat throughout.
- Turn over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and begin baking for 70 minutes. For every 33% (1 egg) you scale the recipe, add 15 minutes of baking time. The filling only takes 10 minutes to make, and since the cheesecake needs 10 minutes to cool before applying the topping, it is probably adviseable to just clean some of the dishes while the it's in the oven. Once the 70 minutes is up, remove it and let it cool.
Make the Topping
This is not an option. You must make the topping, as not doing so goes against the very nature of this cheesecake. It's also, no pun intended, easy as cake to make.
- sour cream (16 1/2 oz)
- sugar (3 tbsp)
- vanilla extract (1/2 tsp)
- Spoon the sour cream into a mixing bowl.
- Begin mixing, while pouring in the vanilla.
- Continue mixing, slowly pouring in the sugar. Mix until blended perfectly.
- By now, the crust and filling should be out of the oven, and cooled for at least 10 minutes. Pour the topping onto the rest of the cake. The topping should have the consistency of thick pancake batter, and the cheesecake, though a bit more solid, will not be totally formed yet. Because of this, you shouldn't quickly pour the topping into the center of the cheesecake, because it will likely collapse, and create quite an aesthetically repulsive creation. Instead, slowly pour the topping near one of the edges, then move circularly around the cheesecake, spiraling towards the center. After the first time you do this, you should have used up less than half the filling in the bowl. Proceed to fill in the gaps little dollops at a time, until the topping bowl is devoid of topping and merely a bowl.
- Smooth it evenly with the spatula.
- Put the entire thing back into the oven, without covering it. Bake for 7 minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes. It's best to find somewhere cool and dry, and for the love of all that is cheesecake, don't put it near a clove of garlic or an ashtray. Cheesecake acts likea sponge and soaks up particles in the air, and the last thing you want is a cheesecake that tastes like a chain-smoking Italian. After it's cooled a bit, cover and store in fridge.
- Let chill for at least 6 hours, overnight if possible.
Cheesecake is best served within a day or two after creation. Never freeze cheesecake unless necessary, as it saps it of much of its flavor.
Cheesecake can be excellent by its lonesome, but it is best served with a fine vin de glacière. Combining the two is the most effective method in bringing about the elusive flavorgasm.
Please consume cheesecake responsibly. Always remember, 'A Minute on the Tongue, Forever on your Bum.' Or in my case, on my bum, thighs, and stomach.
I've taken the time to calculate the nutrional content of this cheesecake. It's an approximation at best, it may be somewhat lower or higher depending on if I used a ratio of lowfat cream cheese and lowfat sour cream. Regardless, we're talking about a dish that's basically fat encapsulating sugar. It doesn't get any better than this, but that comes with a price. These numbers are based off a 66% increase in batter and filling for larger crowds. Scale appropriately for size.
Serving Size 1 slice (1/20 of the cheesecake)
Fat Calories 335
Total Fat 34.5 g
Saturated Fat 22.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 177.5 mg
Sodium 362.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 36.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.5 g
Sugars 28.3 g
Protein 7.9 g
Vitamin A 23%
Vitamin C 0%
Any comments on this recipe should be sent to me at your leisure. I'd love to know how it turned out, who you impressed with it, or how you seduced your significant other with it.