musings, mutterings, and creative muddle. . .

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Let's Do Cheese - CAKE, That Is!

I promised another recipe. . . and yes, I know, I went missing yesterday.  The Easter Afterglow finally caught up with me.  No, of course not, it had nothing to do with all the Easter cupcakes and cookies I ate.  Nothing at all.  Ahem.

I had *real* cheesecake for the first time as a young adult in a restaurant.  I was in love!  The restaurant was in no easy proximity of my home to have cheesecake regularly - and no restaurants within easy distance to get *real* cheesecake - so I went (quite sadly and literally) years without another taste of cheesecake. 

One day while at home in the great lone space also known as Northwestern Kansas, I am reading a magazine and to what to my amazing eyes did I see?  A cheesecake recipe!  And there were no fancy, exotic, hard-to-obtain ingredients.  Who would have guessed??

Thus, a new obsession was born - to make the perfect cheesecake.  Needless to say, my first (several) cheesecakes were tasty enough - but lumpy and, well. . . quite honestly, just not *It.*  I went through recipe after recipe and modifications of each one. . . my poor family and friends were nearly sick of cheesecake.  Thank goodness we were operating a Bed & Breakfast at the time so had lots of willing guinea pigs. . . I mean guests.

Then I discovered The Crust from another pie recipe - oh yes!  We're getting closer. . . but still not quite there.  The actual cheesecake texture - just not as fluffy as I demanded and a few too many lumps.  Exactly what was I missing?

Funny - that final piece to the puzzle was discovered quite by accident and could have been disastrous in any other situation.  I had turned on my mixer to beat the cream cheese and stepped out 'for just a moment.'  At least a half hour later (with a gasp!) I rushed back into the kitchen. . . Yup, the mixer was still beating up on that sweet concoction.  I shrugged my shoulders and moved on with the recipe.  Guess what?  PERFECT!

Without further story-telling:

ksyardbird's Cheesecake

24 oz cream cheese - softened to room temperature (do not warm in microwave!)
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
4 eggs, beaten
8 oz sour cream (like Daisy brand)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (can substitute other extracts as per taste)
Graham cracker crust (recipe follows) in 9" or 10" springform pan, cooled to room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy, scraping beater and bowl frequently. 
Meanwhile, make graham cracker crust and put in oven to bake.
While crust is baking, gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth - scraping beater and bowl frequently.  Beat mixture until crust is ready to be removed from oven and set aside to cool.
Beat in eggs and mix thoroughly.  Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until smooth. 
Pour into prepared graham cracker crust. 

Bake 50 to 55 minutes until lightly browned around edge (center will be slightly soft).  Cool to room temperature.
Top as desired and serve warm or chilled.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Graham Cracker Crust:

8 graham crackers, broken
1/2 c walnuts or pecans
1/3 c butter or butter flavored shortening
3/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put all ingredients in food processor and pulse until crumbly and coarsely blended - being sure butter has been incorporated through.  Press into bottom of 9" or 10" springform pan (or pan of equivalent size) using the flat bottom of a glass or cup.  Bake 10-15 minutes.  Cool to at least room temperature before filling to avoid crust getting soggy from filling.

We topped our Easter Cheesecake with tart cherries.  But I've topped it with such things as mini-chocolate chips, my homemade caramel sauce, strawberries, blueberries.  Or it's extremely tasty all on its own.  Oh, I've also substituted chocolate graham crackers for the 'plain' ones in the crust recipe. . . Pretty tasty too.

I'm sorry I don't have a 'pretty photo' of the cheesecake topped with cherries and looking all delicious and delightful on a plate. . . Each time I had a slice all plated ready to be photographed - somebody would take it!

And with that, we all lived happily ever after with tasty cheesecake in our bellies!

Have a cheesy-kind of day ~

Robin Z

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