Category Archives: Cheesecake

Key Lime Cheesecake


This summer has really been a scorcher. In fact, just the other day our state broke its record for 100+ degree days. At just over 50 days (and maybe around 30 days IN A ROW) at a standard temperature of 105 or more, its a record I’d rather not have. It leaves me terrified to even put my dog outside, so I cut it into once an hour where I take him out to go potty, then back into the depths of an air-conditioned home he goes. Honestly, Avery doesn’t seem too bothered by it, he thoroughly enjoys air conditioning. In fact, when we got him from the breeder, we were overwhelmed by a slew of rowdy corgi puppies scampering indoors and out as their poor mother waddled after them, her tubby tummy dragging on the ground.

And then there was our puppy dog, laying on an air conditioning vent, happy as a clam. It was a match made in heaven.

Now he just hogs the AC vent.

So that begs the question; hot or cold? I am pretty cold-blooded, I get too cold very easily. I even get blue fingernails and purple toes, so a lot of times you will see me inside wearing a zip-up hoodie or a jacket, despite it being 100 degrees outside, AC just makes me too dang cold! On the other side, I’d much rather be cold than hot, because when you are cold you can just put on a jacket, a pair of pajama pants, or just settle underneath a warm blankie. When you’re hot, however, there’s pretty much no way out other than eating ice cream or drinking something chilly.

Or you can head to the Florida Keys and eat some Key Lime Pie. Or just stay where you are and have Key Lime Pie or Key Lime Cheesecake, what have you. Every time my dad goes to Tampa or the Keys on business, he always makes an effort to tell us about the Key Lime Pie, that’s his favorite thing! I don’t blame him, I don’t think I’ve been to Florida or than going to Disney World at the ages of 2 and 8, and I’m sure that if I were able to go any time soon (which I most likely can and will, since I’m so dang close!), I will make an executive effort to try an AUTHENTIC Key Lime Pie from the Keys. Until then, I’ll utilize the very nice and cute little key limes that they sell in little netted bags at the Grocery Store. The cute, tiny little limes that literally take me an hour to juice 1 cup out of. The precious, adorable little limes that always make me roar like Reptar out of frustration because the tiny little feller managed to get some juice in a cut that I didn’t even know I had.

The wittle, baby, itty-bitty, little limes that always perk up, without overpowering, fabulous key lime pies or other custard-like desserts in the most lovely of ways.

So I utilized the graham crackers that I had made (two posts ago) and made a graham cracker crust for some Key Lime Cheesecake (a light one, so everyone can be happy). I wanted to merge that almost overbearing lusciousness of the New York-style cheesecake with the tart lightness of the Key Lime Pie from the Florida Keys. Needless to say, it was a successful mission.

I chose to make the cheesecake tart, because otherwise, the cream cheese flavor could overbear it. Once the flavors meshed, they complimented each other nicely.
Light and luscious, this cheesecake alleviated the oppressive, and downright offensive, heat of the summer for a little relaxation. Whether on the patio with some sweet tea, or a delicatessen, or just hiding from the flames of heck that is the sunny outdoor heat.

So what are you waiting for? Give it a go!

Key Lime Cheesecake
Ingredients

    For the Crust

8 oz. Honey Graham Crackers, finely crushed
6 T. Unsalted Butter, melted
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 c. Sugar

    For the Filling

5, 8 oz. blocks Regular Cream Cheese (for light, use 3 blocks Light, and 2 blocks Nonfat)
1 1/4 c. Granulated Sugar (add 1/4 more if you want the mixture sweeter)
5 eggs, plus 3 egg yolks (for light, just use 4 eggs)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 c. plus 2 T. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 C. Key Lime Juice, freshly-squeezed (alternatively, you can use regular limes)
1 tsp. Zest from Key Limes (alternatively, you can use regular limes)

Method
Stir together crust ingredients with a fork, then pour in the melted butter and stir so that the crumbs are moistened. Press this mixture into a 9 in. Springform pan that has been buttered. Wrap the outside with foil, making sure that the place where the pan parts connect is thoroughly covered. Place the pan into the freezer while you prepare the filling.

-Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
1. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheeses together thoroughly, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl every once in a while.
2. Pour in the sugar and mix until combined. Add in the juice and zest of the key limes and the vanilla. Taste the mixture at this point to make sure if it needs to be sweeter or more tart and adjust to your liking.
3. Mix in eggs, one at a time, making sure that there are no streaks of unmixed cream cheese floating around in the mixture, then add in the flour and salt.**
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan and place pan on a cookie sheet, or a baking dish in which the pan can fit into. Fill the baking dish with water, making sure that the water line is below where the foil ends. Gently place the pans into the oven and bake at 500 for 15 minutes, making sure to watch the top so that it does not burn.
5. Reduce temperature to 300 and bake the cheesecake for about an hour longer, until the cheesecake is almost firm (the center may slightly jiggle when you remove the cake, if it’s almost fluid-like or has the jiggle-factor of Jello, then it needs to return to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes at a time until mostly firm.)
6. Remove cake from oven and run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the crust from the walls. Remove the pan from the water-bath and take off the foil. Allow the cake to cool for at least 3 hours, or until cool enough to touch. Place cake in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or until thoroughly chilled.

Enjoy!

**: OPTIONAL: To make the cake mixture seem a bit more “limey” in color, add a drop or two of kelly green gel food coloring with a drop of lemon yellow gel food coloring. Go by drops when it comes to the food coloring!

Happy Baking!
Clara

Pumpkin Surprise Cheesecake – Say Thank You!


I will have you know that pumpkin is a controversial subject. Not everyone likes pumpkin pie, and i can respect that, I didn’t start liking it until a vew years ago, when I got past the texture and got to the flavor. I have had pumpkin pies in the past and, though I love them so, I just cannot stand the texture. Custard isn’t my favorite in terms of palate pleasure, it’s too eggy to me, eggy and strange. My problem is that I love flan, creme brulee, pumpkin and sweet potato pie and whatnot, but they all have that eggy-custardy texture. I’m honestly not a fan. When I think pumpkin, I think smooth, and if I had a choice, pumpkin cheesecake should be on the Thanksgiving table everywhere in the United States!

But you know, that’s just me. There are all sorts of opinions in the world, and mine is to embrace the wonderful world of pumpkin, ginger, spice, chocolate, and cheesecake all in one texture and experience. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Let’s give this a go, I had been planning to give this a go ever since the few weeks before coming home from school, the lack of a community kitchen only fueled the fire in this area.

Here, I used those gingersnaps that I made earlier that day to make a rather delightful crust. I love gingersnaps…

Have I already told you that?

I think so.

And then, of COURSE, the cream cheese. Isn’t it delightful? Big bricks of love.

I should be a spokesperson. Paula Deen was! Why can’t I?

Eggs, sugar, the ‘uge, you know, everything that makes cheesecake so wonderful.

Except here’s the difference, I took two cups of the batter out to the side before i mixed in the pumpkin and spices in, and added in cooled, melted chocolate to the mix. Finished the pumpkin portion then actually put a layer of pumpkin on the bottom of the pan, then added in all of the chocolate in an even layer, then topped off with the rest of the pumpkin. What was neat was that the on the baked cheesecake, the crust actually covered the chocolate layer, so its a surprise!

Bake with a waterbath! The most important aspect of it all! Don’t be discouraged if you find a crack or two. It happens! For me, it happened along the sides of the baked cheesecake if you look on the top. That’s why, in New York, you always see cheesecakes with the pie filling pooled on top! I betcha they are hiding cracks! Gotcha there!

Surprise! Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake! A sight to behold! But wait! There’s more!

There ya go! Hee hee, no cheesecake is complete wihout whipped cream!

So if you’re wanting to try something new this year on the Thanksgiving table, give this a go! You won’t be disappointed!

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake
Ingredients
8 oz. Gingersnaps, pulsed into fine crumbs
2 oz. Unsalted Butter, melted
1 tsp. Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt

4 8 oz blocks Cream Cheese
1 1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
4 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
3 T. All Purpose Flour

For the Pumpkin Layers:
1 c. Pumpkin Puree
1/2 tsp. Grated Nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Ground Cloves
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

For the Chocolate Layer
6 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, melted and cooled
1 T. Dutch Process Cocoa Powder

Method
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a cookie sheet in the oven and fill halfway with water, prep a springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and wrap the outside in foil, set aside.
1. Place gingersnap crumbs in a bowl and stir in salt, brown sugar, and grated ginger until combined. Slowly add in butter while stirring until you get moist crumbs, but not saturated. Press crumbs into the springform pan, all along the bottom and walls (halfway is fine). Place pan in the refrigerator to firm up.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix blocks of cream cheese until smooth. Add in vanilla, salt, flour and sugar until smooth, and add in eggs, one at a time, until completely combined.
3. Take two cups out of the batter and place into a separate bowl, stir in melted chocolate and cocoa powder until incorporated, set aside.
4. Add pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves to the original batter and stir to combine.
5. Take the springform pan and pour in half of the pumpkin batter in an even layer on the bottom. Evenly spread the chocolate layer on top of the pumpkin layer, gently pushing it to the edges of the crust, top with remaining pumpkin batter and be sure to completely cover the chocolate.
6. Place foil-wrapped springform pan into the cookie sheet filled with water into the preheated oven. Bake at 450 for 12 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 and allow to bake for another hour, or until slightly jiggly in the center and the edges are firm. If the cheesecake is still quite jiggly, bake in 30 minute increments, do not take the cheesecake when it is very jiggly, it won’t firm up.
7. Allow to cool to room temperature for two hours, then chill overnight until ready to serve. Top with whipped cream, enjoy!

Happy Baking! Happy Thanksgiving!
Clara

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake


I am in Albuquerque at the moment, my last little ‘vacation’ before I jet off to Savannah in a few weeks. I don’t start until the 13th, gaah. At that point, everyone will be a month into college! Haha. It’s hard to think that my friends are all separated out. Bob is in NYC (jealousy…), Jake is in Boston (jealousy…again..)…I just can’t believe it! Thanks to the world of Skype!

Catherine (my eldest sister) and I are very conscious about our weight, since we both have lost a lot in the past few years, we like to try and figure out substitutes to our favorite things that are low calorie, low fat, yet full flavored. Catherine’s favorite thing is the chocolate mousse cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. We have been planning to find out a healthier (and still decadent!) substitute to the 17 Weight Watcher point slice (she is on weight watchers, it works! She’s so LITTLE now!). And here we have it! All it takes is a couple things to make a difference.

By taking the concept of the last cheesecake I made and figuring out how I could make everything come together in a ‘lighter’ manner without substituting richness, I, well, we (she made the mousse) managed to make a cheesecake that was substantially less (probably seven points a slice).

Oh, and it was REALLY good.

We went ahead and made a full fat mousse, using about half of it on the cheesecake, since it was easier. But that’s okay! Do what you want to do with it! The sky’s the limit!

The only thing that is very important here, though, is the use of a water bath. Without it, then the cheesecake will REALLY crack and be…um…not too pretty. Sure, you cover it with mousse, but you will still know its there.

You will…

So what are you waiting for?? Give it a go!

Lighter Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake
Ingredients
FOR THE CRUST
2 C. Chocolate Teddy Grahams ground into fine crumbs (should amount to 1 1/4 C.)
3/4 C. Melted Unsalted Butter
1/2 C. Granulated Sugar

FOR THE MOUSSE
1 Half Recipe Chocolate Mousse

FOR THE CHEESECAKE
6 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, melted and cooled
2 Blocks Fat Free Cream Cheese
1 Block Low Fat Cream Cheese
1 1/2 T. All Purpose Flour
1 Large Egg
2 Egg Yolks
3/4 C. Plus 2 T. Granulated Sugar
1 tsp. Salt

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees and fill a large roasting pan with water, set inside oven.
2. Stir the melted butter in with the ground chocolate teddy grahams and sugar, the crumbs should be lightly moist and crumbly, but still hold together when pressed. Add butter a little bit at a time to make sure. Spray a 9″ springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and pour the mixture into the pan. Using a flat-bottomed glass, gently press the crumbs against the bottom and up the wall of the pan. Place pan into the refrigerator so that the crust can firm up.
3. Prepare cheesecake filling. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and flour until combined. Scrape bowl as needed. Mix in sugar, salt, as well as the eggs, one at a time. Mix until combined. Pour melted chocolate into the mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
4. Pour mixture into the chilled crust and smooth the top as best as possible. Wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil and place into the roasting pan filled with water. Bake until the cheesecake has puffed slightly, slightly firm, and the center is slightly wobbly. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely at room temperature, then cool in the refrigerator from 4 hours to overnight.
5. Prepare chocolate mousse as the recipe instructs, then pour on top of completely cooled cheesecake, then spread around the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours so that the mousse can firm up. Slice and serve.

Happy Baking!
Clara

New York-Style Tall Cheesecake


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.

*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

like it.

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
Ingredients

    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!

Method

    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!

Happy Baking!
Clara