I would like to forewarn you. Today has been a good day. Why has it been a good day? Because I accomplished something that suits Dad’s Day (well, MY dad’s day) to a T for tomorrow, or today, or whenever this post has been read, dear readers. As a result, there is a cornucopia, a plethora, a surplus, an excess, an indulgence of photography.
They weren’t kidding when they coined the phrase ‘camera happy’ weren’t they? ANYWAY. When it comes to indulgence? This is one, but not as bad as you think. I committed a sin in that in place of full-fat for this currently dieting household, I used a mixture of neufchatel and *gasp* FAT-FREE cream cheese!
Don’t look at me like that. Don’t judge me. I did this for my sake, if it were the full-fat stuff, I wouldn’t have touched it with a ten foot pole. Not for me, not now.
Believe me, I know the taste of the REAL stuff, like at Roxy’s Delicatessen in New York, in which my father leaped with joy when he ordered a behemoth and had me take a bite, since I had only had a fruit cup for dinner (that was the best fruit…). When I ate that bite, I would like to let you know, that was the time when I died. I am a ghost writer now, I am currently translucent in my den, watching the US Open with my mother, and rolling around with glee at the accomplished 250 calorie slice of cheesecake as opposed to 400 calorie slice (this is an 18th of the cake, a pretty hefty size). Let me gloat.
Let’s make cheesecake, nonbelievers.
One of my favorite things ever are graham crackers. Make them into a crust and I will marry you right here and right now, let’s find a church, save the date. Put your graham crackers in a food processor, beat them into crumbs, add the sugar, mix, and then pour in the melted butter. The finished concoction should be crumbly and moist. Yay. Press this into your springform pan and place in the freezer to firm up.
The original recipe says to press it all the way up on the pan. But I chose not to, and ended up using half of the graham cracker mixture. The rest ended up in my stoma-what no it didn’t.
There are some cheesecakes out there that are ‘lightened’ with sour cream or heavy whipping cream (HA! Kings of irony) before baked. Well, I hate to tell you, but the New Yorkers aren’t known for being ‘light’, they are known for being in your face. When you order cheesecake, you are going to get cheesecake. Open package, drop in cheeseblock, lather, rinse, repeat four more times.
You heard me, kiddies, five blocks. I would say that this would seem like oodles and bunches of cream cheese, but I worked at a bagel shop, where I would refill the cream cheese using massive five pound blocks. So no, this doesn’t look like a lot. Five blocks.
Unless you’re in my case, then you would use three blocks neufchatel (1/3 less fat) and 2 blocks fat free. Tastes the same, people. Tastes the same. My father even thought this, and he can detect one air-popped kernal in a bag of movie theater butter, and he
- will not
In the recipe, it says to beat this, the sugar, the flour, and the zest in all at once, I chose to beat the cream cheese beforehand, just to kind of make it easier to put everything in, you know? Like you would whip butter up before you add in the sugar for the creaming method.
Mix in the sugar and the flour and the salt and the zest and commit major fragments in the process. If you don’t have a BeaterBlade, or God’s gift to man, then scrape down the bowl as much as possible. It’s imperative here.
I omitted the egg yolks. Five eggs was all I needed.
When you have your filling all together and happy, pour it into your chilled crust. Prebaking isn’t necessary here, as the crust is going to get soggy no matter what, but you know what? It’s one of my favorite parts. Mmmm soft graham cracker crust, no mmm soggy pie crust, mmm soft graham cracker crust.
The recipe doesn’t state to use a water bath, but you know, I wanted to. I wanted this to be a perfect cheesecake, meaning I didn’t want to risk any cracks whatsoever. So I made one, and you know? It baked up just gosh darned fine. Just don’t be afraid of the 550 degree temperature.
Wrap the outside of the springform pan with foil (to prevent any possible leakage) and place it into HOT water in a roasting pan in the oven. It makes the cooking nice, gentle, and even, so that your cheesecake doesn’t break.
Take it out after your baking (a little more than an hour) and run a knife along the side. Isn’t this the coolest picture? I think so.
(Shout out to Christine, sister, I know I’m getting chatty here, its fitting :). Love you. Shout out to Catherine, love you, sister, for not caring about my chattyness.)
Bleeehh, I’m a VAMPIRE, BLEEH. Just kidding, that’s cherry juice.
Make the cherry topping, so gosh darned good.
This is good to make when the pie is on its almost ten hour cooling time, please follow it. Warm cheesecake makes me make this face: :C
Here’s the fun part about cheesecake. Its tall, its rich, its prominent. But not only that, if gives you options. You can be like me, who sometimes likes it just plain jane. On its own, nothing on top, nada. Or you can do this.
And make art. Food. Art.
Eating art is good. I’m an artist, and so I can say that.
There is no doubt about it. I struck a goldmine here.
New York Cheesecake
- For Crust
8 ounces (15 4 3/4 x 2 1/2-inch sheets of graham cracker; yes, I am crazy enough to both count and measure) finely ground graham crackers or cookies such as chocolate or vanilla wafers
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
(NOTE: I used half of this)
- For Cheesecake
5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia is recommended for cheesecakes but if you’ve had success with other brands, feel free to use them again)
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
(NOTE: I used two blocks fat free cream cheese, and three blocks neufchatel (or low fat), I also just used five eggs, and upped the vanilla to a tablespoon)
- For Optional Cherry Topping
10 ounces sweet or sour cherries, pitted (they’re not in season here so I used frozen; worked just fine)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar*
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
* You might dial this up by up to another 1/4 cup if you’re using sour cherries. However, if you’re using sour cherries I’m going to assume it is because you like them, and the more tart taste they impart, thus you probably will enjoy this sauce just as much with only 1/4 cup sugar. Look at me, psychologizing!
- Make Crust
Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and up the sides, stopping one inch shy of the top rim**, of a buttered 9 1/2-inch (or 24 cm) springform pan. You can fill it right away but I like to pop my into the freezer so it quickly sets while I prepare the filling.
(NOTE: I made half and just put it about halfway up the side)
- Make filling
Preheat oven to 550 degrees (yes, this is correct). Beat together cream cheese, sugar, flour and zest with an electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla, then eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated. Scrape bowl down between additions; I cannot stress this enough as if you do not, you’ll end up with unmixed stripes of cream cheese. I always find at least one, despite my best efforts.
Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan (to catch drips). Pour filling into crust (springform pan will be completely full) and baking in baking pan in the middle of the oven for 12 minutes or until puffed. Please watch your cake because some ovens will top-brown very quickly and if yours does too fast, turn the oven down as soon as you catch it. Reduce the temperature to 200 degrees (see Note below about my baking drama) and continue baking until cake is mostly firm (center will still be slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken), about one hour more.
Run a knife around the top edge of the cake to loosen it and cool the cake completely in springform on a rack, then chill it, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.
- Make OPTIONAL Cherry Filling (but it is recommended)
Place all ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, cook it for an additional one to two minutes then remove from heat. Cool completely.
Remove side of pan and transfer cake to a plate. If you had any wonky baking issues (see my Note below), you might need to trim the cake flat. I promise not to tell anyone what happened to those scraps, okay?
Spread topping (if using) over chilled cheesecake. The original recipe says to bring this to room temperature before serving, but I never have!