Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New York Cheesecake...... WIN!!!

You know when you realize two days before Mother's Day that you're short on money and time and have gotten exactly nothing for your mom? That's when you hop on to Pinterest and start looking at things to bake. Like me, my Mom enjoys sweet things so I immediately looked for desserts. And then I was stuck. I know she likes chocolate but chocolate seems overdone sometimes. I know she likes pies but I am not ready to make pies... I'm still a wee cook. And then it hit me.... CHEESECAKE. My Dad refuses to eat cheesecake. I don't get it but it works out because it leaves more for Mom and I. She really doesn't get to eat cheesecake much because only she likes it. So, PERFECT MOTHER'S DAY GIFT!

And then I kind of freaked out.. There are a lot of cheesecake recipes out there. From just cream cheese to incredibly complicated (or so I thought). I tend to be a go big or go home kind of chick so I went for the more complex recipe (Here's the pin!). I was pretty positive I was going to botch it. But, the kind baking gods smiled down on me and a delicious, beautiful cheesecake would be mine.

I will say, the recipe looks more complicated than it really is. It's all about timing and making sure you do not open your oven.

Here it is!
Annie's Eats (annies-eats.com) New York Cheesecake:
For the crust:
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 additional tbsp, melted for greasing the pan
4 oz (approx 8 whole) graham crackers, broken into rough pieces and processed into fine, even crumbs (I think I actually used 9 because it was what was in the package)
1 tbsp sugar

For the cheesecake:
2 1/2 lb (5 8oz packages) cream cheese, cut into rough 1 in chunks, at room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks, plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

To make the crust, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325*. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 tblsp of the melted butter. In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, 5 tbsp melted butter, and sugar. Toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer the crumbs to the springform pan and use the bottom of a ramekin to firmly press the crumbs evenly into the pan bottom. Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.

Funny story about the crust.. I don't have a processor big enough to process that many crackers at once. So, I used this fun stress relieving technique, the boys really got a kick out of watching me pound their favorite snack food with a hammer....

Increase the oven temperature to 500*. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at same speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions. Make sure you are scraping the bowl after each addition!

Brush the sides of the springform pan with the remaining 1/2 tbsp melted butter. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills in case the pan leaks. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake 10 minutes, without opening the door, reduce the oven temperature to 200* and continue to bake until the cheesecake reads about 150* on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Run a paring knife between the cake and the springform pan sides. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

To unmold the cheesecake, remove the sides of the pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the bottom of the pan to loosen, then slide the cake onto a serving plate.

At Mom's house, we did macerated strawberries for the topping. Cut up strawberries, sprinkle sugar over the top, put in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and voila! macerated strawberries!

At home, I did hot fudge. Because I am addicted to chocolate. :)

This cheesecake was so wonderful, it was dense but not too rich, it was light but not lacking in flavor. The top didn't crack, which apparently is a problem with homemade cheesecakes... It was perfection! My Mom LOVED it and that's what matters. I think it was as good or better than anything store bought.

Coming up in the next few days will be a few work in progress posts, I will show the afghan I am working on and probably a post on tincturing.

Now, GO! Make cheesecake!

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