Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Cream Cheese My Favorite Dairy Product
Lets talk Cheesecake, one of my favorite subjects. I only know a couple of people who don't care for it. Their dislike is not because of the taste, it's because of the name. "Cheese and cake is not a combination I am willing to try." Their loss! Personally, I believe cheesecake to be a slice of heaven. I made so much of this delectable dessert, I should qualify for a wholesale discount on cream cheese.
A lot of people I know are afraid to try to bake one on their own. Surely anything that tastes so rich and creamy takes all day and somewhat of a genius in the kitchen to prepare. If you are one of those people, stay tuned because I am about to tell you how to make Cheesecake. The basic recipe is easy. To make a good size cheesecake I use a 8 or nine inch pan, it takes about 3 to 4 bricks of cream cheese. Again it depends on how thick you would like it to be. If you don't want to bother with making a crust, get one that's ready made and multiply the basic recipe times 2.
For each brick of (softened) cream cheese, you will need: 1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp. of Vanilla
All you need to do is to multiply this basic recipe by the number of bricks of cream cheese you use. I guess, that's were being a genius comes into play. With a mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until it gets to a creamy consistency and most of the lumps are gone. Here comes the important part, add eggs one at a time and only beat until it is incorporated. Do not overbeat the batter. Add the batter to your prepared crust (do not grease the pan). Bake at 350 for about 40 to 60 minutes. Again it depends on how many bricks of cream cheese you use. It will take about 40 minutes for 2, 50 for 3 and 55 to 60 if you made the recipe times 4.
For the crust you will also need: 1 1/2 cups of Grahm cracker crumbs
1/4 cup of melted butter or margarine
2 Tbsp. of sugar.
Mix the 3 ingredients together and press into the bottom of your springform pan with the back of a spoon. .
There are a couple of things I need to mention. Cheesecake does not like to be mixed for very long. If you over beat it, you will incorporate too much air into the batter. Also when you bake it, put an ovenproof dish of water in the oven along with the pan. Cheesecake likes to bake with moist heat. Do not bake it for too long. It's done when the center is still jiggly. Turn the oven off and open the door slightly. Leave the cake in the oven for about an hour, to gradually cool down. This should prevent the top of your cheesecake from cracking. It will also finish baking while it cools. Once you remove it from the oven, run a spatula or a knife all the way around the edge of the cake to loosen any that may have gotten stuck to wall of the pan. Remove the collar and let it cool completely before adding any toppings if you prefer. Should you end up with some cracks in the top, don't sweat it. A can of cherry pie filling or any other fruit filling will hide them and no one will ever know.
You can also use the basic recipe times 3 to make 24 cupcake size mini cheesecakes. Line your pans with cupcake liners. Drop a Nilla wafer in the bottom of each. Fill about 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes. As the cakes cool they will deflate slightly, creating a well. Fill this well with any pie filling of your choice. I made this recipe with cherry pie filling for our Christmas dinner at work. We always have a contest for the best dessert. Out of about 40 desserts, mine won hands down. Took me all but 30 minutes to make from start to finish. I was so tired by the time I got started I didn't bother getting my big mixer out. Just whipped it up with a wire whisk. Added the topping in the morning, put some fancy tissue on a platter for the presentation and edged out the bosses wife by a landslide. Her fancy cake pops didn't stand a chance.
One more thing. These little cakes freeze well. Once they are cooled, wrap them each in foil or heavy plastic wrap. Defrost one or two at the time, top them with whipped cream or heat some strawberry preserves in the microwave. Makes for a great reward after a particular bad day. Enjoy!