How To Make Cheesecake With The WOW Factor
Cheesecake ~ WOW
I personally love Cheesecake, and I would eat my weight in the stuff if not stopped. Of course, you can get some excellent Cheesecake at restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory or at some high class bakeries (we have one near us called Alpine Bakery that makes unbelievable cheesecake). But making your own adds fun and fame to your life.
I learned this recipe for Cheesecake from Barbara Ziegler , a night school teacher at the local high school. If you have not taken advantage of the night classes in your area, it is really a great value and an excellent way to expand your horizons. The class I am talking about happened in 1974 at Northeast High School. The recipe is so good that I have been using it ever since to the satisfaction of all who dine.
Barbara was an acclaimed chef in the community, and for some reason she decided to share her talents with us. And, trust me, she had culinary talents. Each week we went home stuffed with the goodies we had helped her create that night. I don't remember how much weight I gained during the 16 weeks of gourmet cooking class, but it was significant.
One of the recipes most in demand at my household was the cheesecake. Any time I let my family know that I was in the mood for cheesecake, there was a cheer that could be heard down the block. In fact, the cheesecake became famous in our little circle of family and friends. Any time a part was planned, I was asked to bring cheesecake.
So, here it is, my (Barbara's) famous cheesecake recipe.
- 1/2 cup dried cake crumbs (I personally use graham cracker or shortbread cookies)
- 2 pounds cream cheese (Philadelphia brand recommended after personal disappointment with the store brand)
- 4 whole eggs
- 1½ cups vanilla sugar (see Cheesecake tips below)
- Juice and zest of 1 whole lemon
- 4 T dark Rum (optional, but don't skip it)
- Preheat the oven to 325°
- Butter the inside of an 8" souffle dish, then sprinkle it with cake or cracker crumbs
Preparation of the Cheesecake recipe:
Place softened cream cheese in mixer bowl with the eggs and begin to mix at a low speed. Once eggs and cheese are incorporated together, begin to add the sugar slowly and increase the mixer speed. When all sugar has been added, add the lemon and lemon zest. Continue mixing at high speed for at least 4-5 minutes (sounds like a long time, huh? - it is the secret of success for this particular cheesecake recipe). You want to achieve a very light creamy consistency.
Add the rum and mix for another 30 seconds.
Baking the Cheesecake:
Pour the batter into your prepared souffle dish.
Place a large cake pan with at least 2 inch sides into the oven and put your souffle dish into the larger pan. Add about ½" of boiling water to the large pan. Bake at 325º for 1½ - 2 hours. At the end of the baking time, turn off the oven, but do not remove the cheesecake from the oven for an additional 20 minutes.
Lift the Cheesecake out of its water bath and place it on a rack to cool. Allow it to cool to room temperature. Don't rush this process.
Turn a large plate upside down and place it over the souffle dish. Invert both to turn the cheesecake out onto the plate. Now turn your cake serving plate upside down over the just released cheesecake and turn the plates "right-side" up to that the top of the cheesecake is now on top.
Lightly cover and put into the refrigerator overnight.
Next day, add your topping and refrigerate for another hour or so before serving.
Cheesecake Recipe Tips
Vanilla Sugar - purchase a few sticks of vanilla bean and put them into a dry container, then fill it with ordinary white sugar and tightly close the container. Allow it to sit for a day or two and the vanilla bean will add a wonderful fragrance and taste to your sugar.
Cherry (or fruit) Topping - I use Comstock fruit topping, but I remove most of the syrup. The canned fruit from Comstock is excellent.
Plating Your Cheesecake - it helps to use a cake round. This is a pre-cut piece of cardboard specifically made for cakes. They are sold in 8" rounds and are available at craft supply stores such as Micheal's and JoAnn Fabrics. (Hint: you can make your own cake round from a large cardboard box and cover it with aluminum foil or parchment paper.)
Cutting Cheesecake - make sure you use a clean knife, OR you can use clean mono-filament line to get excellent cuts without a knife. Hold the line tight and push it down through the cheesecake. At the bottom of the cut, pull the line out from one side. Don't try to pull the line up through the cheesecake to remove it. The line does not build up and tear the cheesecake the way a knife will.
For a More "cakey" cheesecake - this recipe is quite custard-like and it does not cut as well as more traditional cheesecake recipes, but that is what makes it unique. If you prefer the great taste of this particular recipe, but want more traditional consistency, add about 1/2 cup of flour and mix it in slowly after the cream cheese and eggs have been blended together well.
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