Thursday, June 23, 2011

New York Style Cheesecake Recipe

You know what I hate about ordering cheesecake at a restaurant? They give you a tiny sliver of the stuff and then charge you about 8 bucks for it. I've made some cheesecakes in my day. Some turned out better than others. But I've also picked up a few tips along the way that have made cheesecake making a more enjoyable experience.

1. Cheesecake is a custard at heart. It's delicate, so you want to bake it slowly and evenly without browning the top.

The most effective way to do this is to bake it in a water bath. Since water evaporates at the boiling point, the water bath will never get hotter than 212 degrees F (100 degrees C), no matter what the oven temperature. This means that the outer edge of your cheesecake won't bake faster than the center, which can cause it to soufflé, sink, and crack.

2. It's common to overbake cheesecakes because, while they might look underdone, they are actually done when the center is still wobbly [this was a hard lesson for me to learn - and it took me more than once to learn it]. At this stage, residual heat will "carry over" and the center will continue to cook.

Remove cheesecake from the oven to cool on a rack, or simply leave the door of the oven closed, turn off the heat and let the cheesecake cool for at least an hour. This helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking in the center.

After chilling, the once-wiggly center should firm up just fine

3. The cream cheese should be at room temperature before you begin mixing, or you'll end up with lumps in your cheesecake. Using cold cream cheese also leads to overbeating--whipping too much air into the batter--which forms unattractive air bubbles on the surface of the cake.

Unless the recipe instructions specifically note otherwise, you should beat the cream cheese by itself until it's smooth and light, before adding any other ingredients.

If you end up with lumps in your batter, run the mixture through a sieve or give it a quick spin in the food processor and you'll have silky smooth results.

4. Whether you're making an Italian-style cheesecake with ricotta cheese or a classic New York cheesecake with cream cheese, don't skimp on the fat content. Reduced fat and nonfat cream cheeses contain fillers that might prevent the cheesecake from setting properly. Never substitute whipped cream cheese for the solid block

Here is a picture of the one I made for Father's Day last weekend:

Is that some sort of kooky strawberry flower?
Ah, it's better: Strawberry cheesecake.

And of course, here is the recipe. Enjoy!

New York Style Cheesecake
Recipe and Tips Contributed by

  • 15 graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 inch springform pan.
2.     In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.
3.     In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.
4.     Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking. Chill in refrigerator

Friday, June 10, 2011

Edible Playdough Recipe

I was being a bit nostalgic today and remembered making this with my very best friend when we were young. Usually, I had this all gobbled up before I could actually make something with it, but if your child has more patience than I had, it might be fun to play with (then gobble up).

1 c. Powdered milk
1 c. Peanut butter
1/2 c. Honey
Raisins, nuts, pretzels etc for garnish as desired

Mix first three ingredients until combined. Store in air tight container or Ziplock bag. Refrigeration will make the mixture more moldable but is not required.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Watermelon Sorbet

While flipping through the pages of Internet, I found this website with so many yummy recipe ideas (and beautiful pictures!). She has a recipe for watermelon sorbet which is so so easy, I had to share. I made this last weekend with my sister-in-law, and it was delicious! One word of caution, though: It is VERY SWEET, so if you want less sugar, use less sugar.

Watermelon Sorbet
recipe adapted from the Culinary Philosopher

1¼ cup sugar
1¼ water
6-7 cups fresh seedless watermelon chunks (about half of the melon)
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice (approximately 3 1/2 medium-sized limes)

In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved (do not stir). Place in a bowl to completely cool.

Put the watermelon chunks and the lime into a blender or food processor. Pulse about 20 times to chop the melon and then process until the watermelon is completely pureed. Press the watermelon through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds and any extra pulp. Combine with the cooled sugar syrup. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Pour the watermelon mixture into the freezer bowl of your ice cream maker (I recommend the Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker, as it’s what I use and it hasn’t failed me yet). Mix until the sorbet has thickened, approximately 25-35 minutes. The sorbet will have soft serve texture. You can enjoy right away or put the sorbet into an airtight container and place in the freezer until firm for about 2 hours.