Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Little Elfin' Magic and a Great Cheesecake!

This week I made a cheesecake for my friend Katie's mom's birthday.  Katie and I work together and she was trying to decide what kind of birthday cake she'd bring for her mother's celebration.  Her father said, "Your mother likes yellow cake with lemon filling, whipped cream frosting, and lots of walnuts on the side."  Katie said to her father, "No, that's YOUR favorite cake!"  Her mother loves cheesecake, and Katie asked if I would make one, with just a touch of lemon.  I was happy to make it.  I love making cheesecakes.  They are cool and creamy happiness in a graham cracker crust!  Don't be intimidated by the thought of making your own cheesecake; it's really a very simple process.  The important thing to remember is to have all your ingredients at room temperature, so that everything mixes to a silky smoothness.

I have a favorite recipe (linked here) and it is found on the back of the Keebler Graham Cracker Crumb box.  It's a New York-style cheesecake:  deep, sweet, and creamy.  The crust is delicious on its own, but when paired with the cream cheese filling, the whole thing is perfect.   I made a few minor changes to the recipe:  I added finely grated peel from one lemon.  Additionally, I place a cake pan full of hot water on the rack below, just to add moisture to the oven which helps to minimize cracking, and then when it was done I turned off the oven and propped the door open an inch and left it there for an hour to allow slow cooling, which is also supposed to help minimize cracking.  You can customize this recipe to  your own preferences with different flavorings.  Part of the batter can be flavored with cocoa or canned pumpkin and spices.  You can fold frozen berries (they don't smoosh) or broken Oreos into the batter.  You can use different crumbs for the crust (crushed chocolate wafer cookies).  The basic formula can be the foundation for limitless combinations.  Try this recipe.  You'll love it!

Here are photos of Katie's cheesecake, start to finish.

Using a small measuring cup to press crumbs...

Two el-bees of cream cheese!

The finished product!
Photos: my own.

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