March 28, 2010

Fabulous Cheesecakes

My last post was about my Thank You note to the President of the Board of Directors of the school where I volunteer for the wonderful gift she made me: Dorie Greenspan's "Baking. From my home to yours". In the meantime, I have been working full day for three days so I haven't had time to bake anything else and I have started to feel nostalgy for my new Dorie Greenspan's book.

So when we were invited for dinner at some friends place I had no doubt I would have brought another dessert taken from this magic book and considering how our friends Nat and Terrell love cheesecake I didn't have to think one single second about which cake I was going to make.

Dorie did not disappointed me this time either (of course). The first comment to my cheesecake was "perfect". I could not ask for a better result! Here is the recipe of this fabulous cheesecake that I presented together with a strawberry coulis that really gave the final perfect match. Needless to say....the cheesecake did not survive long. In fact, the pictures are not so great because I was not able to make people wait before cutting it and eating it :)


For the Crust
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake
2 lbs (four 8oz boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two

For the Coulis
1 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

To Make the Crust

Butter a 9″ springform pan – choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4″ high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter left over) – and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminium foil.

Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. ( I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach slightly above or below the midway point on the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)

Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake..

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

To Make the Cheesecake Batter

Put a kettle of water on to boil

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at a medium speed until soft and creamy; about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat for another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition – you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream and/or heavy cream (I had a lot of heavy cream in the fridge so this time I have used all heavy cream and it made it sooo tasty and rich. Next time I will try with all sour cream or a combination).

Put the foil-wrapped springform pan into a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around it.

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula , just to make sure that there is nothing left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the rim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower side and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or a small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into it to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top should be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster – be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours; overnight is better.

At serving time, remove the sides of the springform pan – I use a hairdryer to do this – and set the cake on a serving platter.

To make the Strawberry Coulis
In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Transfer to a blender.

Purée until smooth, strain, and set aside to cool before serving (what is left can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week).

Source: Dorie Greenspan, "Baking. From My Home to Yours".

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