Category Archives: Cream Cheese

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

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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

She Wore…

Bluuuuuuuuuue VELVET. W’oh w’oh w’oh.

Bluer than velvet, was the night.

Softer than satin, was the light.

From the start.

I made blue velvet cupcakes! Using the Waldorf-Astoria Red Velvet Recipe, I made these by simply substituting blue in for the red.

I find them purty.

Of course, I made red velvet tomorrow too. Along with almost 6 dozen cookies. Its a party tomorrow, its the Senior class’ last day of school 🙂 we graduate on the 27, and so I decided that I could bake a ton tonight for everyone tomorrow.

Of course you can’t go wrong with red velvet. Mmmm. And, of course, they are topped with some delish cream cheese frosting! Recipe located in the ‘Staple Recipes’ section!

They make pretty macro shots as well! I’m posting tomorrow too, I have some white bread baking right now, and so I’ll get some shots in of that.

Happy Baking!
Clara

Brownies?? Again??

I know…it might seem BORING. Expecially since I’ve been a very baaaad blogger and not posting as frequently as usual. However, there is another post (short one) coming tonight to say I’m sorry.

Hold on, Nightly News is on and it is showing clips of Navy Seals training…

Oooh.

What were we talking about? Oh. Brownies! I had some cream cheese left over from my cake (unopened, of course!), and so my buddy told me that he wanted me to make some cream cheese swirled brownies. Not too shabby of an idea! I got to researching and found this one from RecipeGirl.

The recipe calls for heath bar. Right when i was about to flip out and go back to the store, I remembered that I had purchased these little baking bits about a year ago and simply put them in the freezer along with my other fancy-schmancy finds. So, I OMITed the pecans and added a bit extra of the heath pieces. Yummerz. Many pieces were consumed by a certain person…which would be me.

I think that I overswirled the batter a bit. What can I say? Its so much fun that I just…get swirl-happy. Some pieces turned out prettily though! That’s a plus. All in all, these things were rich and tasty, and the cream cheese portion wasn’t eggy (I added in some Vanilla Extract), was very smooth, and tasted a bit like cheese cake. It was a good combo with the rather average brownie batter. I do have to confess, though, I didn’t really taste the heath bar, next time, I’ll buy a couple bars and chop them up into larger chips.

Oh happy day! Its randomly hitting me now that I am 18 years old and no longer a kid…and telemarketers are calling for me now, and I can’t say I’m not 18 anymore…WHAT’S GOING ON?? WAAH.

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies with Heath Bar
Ingredients
FILLING:
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, cold (not softened)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 Tbs all-purpose flour

BROWNIE BATTER:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 Tbs whole milk
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
2/3 cup chopped Heath bars

Method
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and lightly flour 13×9-inch baking pan.
2. Prepare filling: In a medium-sized bowl, beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Add egg and flour and beat well. Set aside.
3. Prepare brownies: In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
4. In a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, melt butter with the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat, transfer to a large bowl, and allow to cool to lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar. Add eggs, milk, & vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Stir in half of the pecan and half of the Heath Bars.
5. Reserve ½ cup of the brownie batter and set it aside. Spread the rest of the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Drop cream cheese mixture by tablespoonfuls over the batter. Next, drop the reserved brownie batter by teaspoonfuls in between the cream cheese filling. Using a small knife, swirl the two batters together, forming a decorative pattern.
6. Sprinkle the remaining pecans and Heath Bars over the top, and using a spatula, gently press into the batter.
7. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Do not overbake. Allow to cool overnight before cutting and serving.
Yield: About 24 two-inch brownies

Happy Baking!
Clara