Posts Tagged 'Cheesecake Recipes'

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Does anyone else still have cranberries left over from Thanksgiving?  Since they keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and also freeze beautifully, I’ve been steadily working my way through the half-full jumbo bag my mom sent home with us last month.  Today’s recipe – Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake from the December 2010 issue of Cooking Light – was a special request from my darling husband.  The dessert looked so good on the cover of the magazine that we just had to try it.

Since the process was a bit long, I’ll spare you the play-by-play today.  I did have several issues and modifications, though.

  • When I bake cheesecakes in a water bath, I always use the 18-inch-wide heavy-duty Reynolds foil because it allows me to wrap the entire 9-inch springform pan with one piece.  When I would overlap two pieces of the 12-inch foil in the past, I would consistently get leakage and a soggy crust.  I bring the foil all the way up the sides and then roll any excess at the top into a “lip” so the foil doesn’t extend down into the pan.  Works like a charm!
  • The only chocolate graham crackers my grocery store had were chocolate Teddy Grahams, so that’s what I bought.  Once they’re ground up, they’re pretty much all the same, right?
  • There was no way I was going to put oil in my cheesecake crust, so I substituted 3 tablespoons of melted butter for the 3 tablespoons of canola oil.
  • I didn’t have any Chambord and I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle for the recipe, so I bought two mini bottles at the liquor store for $5.  (I have half of one bottle left.)
  • I don’t know if it was the saucepan I used (a hard anodized Calphalon) or the fact that water evaporates more quickly at high altitude, but my cranberry topping was initially more like candied cranberries than sauce (and that was even after I shaved a minute off of the cooking time).  I ended up adding 5 tablespoons of water to the sauce in the food processor step to thin it out.
  • I don’t ever use fat-free cream cheese (it’s like plastic!), so I used all reduced-fat cream cheese instead of using both types.
  • I used Fage 0% for the Greek yogurt.
  • My whole eggs were room temperature; my egg whites were pretty cold. (Eggs separate best when they’re fresh from the refrigerator.)
  • Many of the recipe reviewers complained that a 9-inch springform pan won’t fit inside a 9 x 13-inch metal pan for the water bath, and it’s true.  Luckily, I have a large lasagna pan (11 x 16) that worked well.
  • I boiled my water in a tea kettle before pouring it around the foil-wrapped cheesecake.
  • The recipe indicated that the cheesecake should barely move in the center after 50 minutes of baking time at 325°F.  Several reviewers said they had to add baking time, whether it was 5 minutes, 20 minutes, or more.  I ended up giving my cheesecake 65 minutes at 325°F before turning off the oven and giving it 30 minutes of in-oven cooling time.

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

This recipe isn’t going to knock my all-time favorite cheesecake (Margarita Cheesecake!) off its throne, but it was pretty fantastic (and far more seasonally appropriate).  This recipe produced a light, fluffy, creamy texture and I loved the play between the slightly tart cranberry topping and the sweetness of the cheesecake.  One of the recipe reviewers on the Cooking Light site said that she didn’t like the chocolate crust because it created “too many flavors” in the final result; I think chocolate and cranberry go together beautifully, though, so I loved it. It was a bit challenging to get the crust out when I cut the first piece (the first piece is always the hardest!), but subsequent pieces came out easily.

I’ve made quite a few cheesecakes and have a pretty sensitive palate, so I could tell this was a lower-fat cheesecake.  I don’t think your average dinner guest would have an inkling, though.  Since this cheesecake is gorgeous, delicious, and able to be made ahead, I’m definitely putting it in my holiday recipe arsenal.

Recipe link: Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

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Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake

First, the obligatory blog-checking text:

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Amazingly enough, I am not this Jenny. 🙂

Here’s the deal…  I’ve been in my new kitchen for less than two weeks.  I’m still unpacking boxes.  I haven’t even cooked our official first dinner in the new house.  (We’ve cooked ONE from-scratch meal in the last week and a half.  I say “we” because I injured my forearm raking last week – pathetic! – and actually had to walk Dr. O through the meal preparation.  Anyone who knows us knows this is craziness.)

Miraculously, though, this cheesecake is baking in the oven as I write!  I’m actually kind of glad I had this DB challenge to take care of because it forced me to break the “cooking seal.”  Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to taste it or post pictures until tomorrow (it has to chill overnight), but I DID IT.  Today.  Now I’m afraid I’ve lost my excuse not to cook dinner tomorrow…

Anyway, I do have a few things to note about this recipe.  I don’t think I’ve ever baked a cheesecake without sour cream, and I’m not sure I’ve *ever* baked a cheesecake with heavy cream, so I’m very curious to see how the texture will differ from other cheesecakes I’ve made.  I’m also used to baking my crusts for 10 – 15 minutes before pouring the cream cheese mixture over the top.  This recipe said to just press the crust ingredients into the springform pan, no pre-baking required.  I’m hoping the result is terrific because I love a good time-saving step.

The variation I chose for my particular cheesecake is a tropical one…  I added 1/2 cup of chopped macadamia nuts to my crust, I added the zest of 1 lime to my cake batter, and I think I’m going to create some kind of pretty pattern with mangoes and kiwi on top.  I’ll post pictures tomorrow!

(Update: Here are the photos for anyone viewing the *post*, not the blog.)

Sweet Sundays: Red, White, and Blueberry Cheesecake Tart

Today’s dessert recipe is my favorite cheesecake recipe of all time: Red, White, and Blueberry Cheesecake Tart from the July/August 2007 issue of Everyday Food. Last year, I think I made it five times in a span of two months for various dinner guests… It is SO incredibly good.

A 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan is essential for this recipe. (I got mine at Crate and Barrel.) To make the crust, I put 6 graham crackers (2 1/2 x 5 inches each), 1/3 cup of whole almonds, and 1/4 cup of sugar in my Cuisinart Mini Prep food processor and processed the mixture until it was finely ground. Next, I added 4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter and processed until the crumbs were moistened. I poured the crumbs into the tart pan and used the bottom of a dry measuring cup to press them firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan. I put the crust into the freezer to sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, I made the cheesecake filling. I wiped the food processor blade and bowl clean and then added 2 bars of reduced-fat cream cheese (room temperature), 1/2 cup of reduced-fat sour cream, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 large egg (room temperature), 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. I blended the mixture just until it was smooth, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. I took the tart pan out of the freezer, placed it on a baking sheet, and filled the crust with the cheesecake mixture. The recipe said to bake until the filling was just set, which was supposed to take 30 – 35 minutes. Mine was firm and starting to puff at the edges at 26 minutes, so I took it out early. I transferred the tart to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the tart cooled, I made the topping. In a medium saucepan, I combined 4 red plums (halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch dice), 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. I cooked the mixture at a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes. (The recipe says it’s done when the mixture “is jamlike and moves around the pan in a single mass when stirred.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, but you really do get to a point where one stir will put the entire mixture in motion, as opposed to stirring individual plum pieces.) I reserved 1 tablespoon of the cooking liquid to toss with blueberries and set the rest of the plum mixture aside to cool.

Once the tart and the topping had cooled, I spread plum mixture over the top of the tart. (It looks a lot prettier when you leave a 1-inch border all around, but I kind of overdid it this time.) I briefly reheated the reserved plum liquid in the microwave until it was liquefied, tossed it with 1 cup of blueberries, and scattered the berries on top of the plum mixture. I chilled the cheesecake for several hours before serving (2 hours would be the minimum); it can be made up to 1 day ahead, if necessary.

Good heaven, this is amazing. The plum topping seems a bit tart if you try it on its own, but it’s an ideal complement for the sweetness of the cheesecake. And don’t even get me started on the crust. It’s buttery, almond-y perfection. It’s pretty firm and it cuts well, too, which makes serving a breeze. Would anyone like to come to dinner soon? I need an excuse to make another one of these… 🙂

TIPS: It takes about 2 hours for the tart to cool completely after baking, so plan accordingly. Also, there are a few “excesses” in this recipe, at least in my opinion. There ends up being way more plum topping than you need to top the tart. (That’s probably part of the reason I overdid it!) It’s really yummy, though, and would be heavenly over vanilla ice cream. Also, unless you want to *cover* the top of the tart in blueberries, you really only need to toss 1 cup of them with the plum liquid, not 2 cups.

Recipe link: Red, White, and Blueberry Cheesecake Tart

Margarita Cheesecake

When it comes to making dessert for guests, I’m really drawn to cheesecake. I’ve come across a few great cheesecake recipes this year, and Margarita Cheesecake from the May 2004 issue of Everyday Food is one of them. This is a “hot water bath” recipe and it requires a little extra effort, but the results are worth it.

First, I made the crust. I buttered a 9 1/2-inch springform pan and set it aside. Then, I used my Cuisinart Mini-Prep food processor to grind 4 ounces of salted pretzels to fine crumbs. I added 1/3 cup of sugar and 4 tablespoons of melted butter and processed until everything was combined.

I pressed the crust evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. The recipe said to go about 1 inch up on the sides; I think I went a bit too high this time around. (“Not as pretty” still tastes good, though!) I put the springform pan on a baking sheet and baked the crust for 5 minutes at 375 F. When the crust had finished baking, I set it aside to cool.

Next, I reduced the oven temperature to 325 F and prepared the filling. I used my stand mixer to beat 3 8-ounce bars of cream cheese until light and fluffy (about 1 minute). I mixed in 1 cup of sour cream, 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of Triple Sec, 1 tablespoon of tequila, and 1 tablespoon of grated lime zest and beat the mixture until it was smooth. I added 4 large eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each.

I poured the filling into the cooled crust and lined the outside of the springform pan with foil. (This prevents water from seeping in during baking.) I put the pan inside a large roasting pan and poured hot water into the roasting pan until it came halfway up the sides of the springform pan. I carefully placed the pans in the oven and baked the cheesecake for 1 hour at 325 F. I removed it from the hot water bath and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Once it had cooled, I chilled it overnight in the refrigerator and served it the next night.

margarita_cheesecake.jpg

This is a really tasty treat. One of the friends we had over for dinner compared the flavor to toned-down key lime cheesecake. The texture is just fantastic, too… It’s not super-dense like Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, but it’s not quite as fluffy as the Pumpkin Cheesecake I made back in November. I’ve made this one three times so far, and I’m keeping it in my repertoire.

TIPS: I hadn’t experienced this problem previously, but my pretzel crust was initially too dry this time around. I was trying to press it into the sides of my springform pan and it was just crumbling down – it wouldn’t stick. I put my crust back in the food processor and added 1 more tablespoon of melted butter to resolve the issue.

I would strongly recommend using wide heavy-duty foil to wrap the springform pan for the hot water bath. I’ve tried overlapping two pieces of regular foil to cover the underside and sides of the pan, but I’ve had water seep into my crust each time. The wide heavy-duty foil did the job beautifully.

Finally, I’ve had great luck freezing individual slices of this cheesecake. I just wrap each one in plastic wrap and store the wrapped slices inside freezer bags. Then, I thaw the slices overnight in the refrigerator. The cheesecake should keep well in the freezer for about 3 months.

Recipe link: Margarita Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Thanksgiving is primarily about giving thanks, of course, but it’s also about enjoying certain foods and flavors that only seem “right” this time of year. Pumpkin is at the top of my fall list. I love pumpkin pie, and I make these super yummy Muirhead Pumpkin Pecan Butter bars every year, but I wanted to try something new. I decided to give Pumpkin Cheesecake from the November 2004 issue of Everyday Food a whirl.

Usually, if I make cheesecake, it’s either baked in a hot water bath or made tart-style in a removable-bottom tart tin. This recipe called for baking the cheesecake, turning the oven off, and then leaving the cheesecake in the oven 2 hours before completely cooling it. I was curious to see how the texture would differ from my normal methods.

I started by making the crust. I ground up 10 whole graham crackers in my food processor and then mixed the crumbs in a bowl with some butter and sugar. I pressed that into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and baked it at 350 F for 10 minutes.

Next, I made the filling. The recipe calls for the cream cheese to be very soft and for the eggs to be room temperature, so I let those ingredients sit on the counter for about 90 minutes before starting the cheesecake. I used a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese and some sugar until smooth; that was followed by a little flour. Next, I added pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and salt. Finally, I added the eggs one at a time, mixing until each was incorporated before adding the next.

I put the springform pan with the baked crust on a rimmed baking sheet and poured in the filling. I smoothed the top over a bit and put it in the oven. The crust had baked at 350 F, and the instructions at this point were to reduce the oven heat to 300 F for 45 minutes. When that time had passed, I turned the oven off and let the cheesecake sit inside for 2 hours.

After I took it out, I let the cheesecake sit on a cooling rack for about 2 more hours. When bedtime hit, I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. The next evening, I took it out before our guests arrived, released the sides of the springform pan, and cut it using the dental floss technique from my previous post.

pumpkin_cheesecake_with_floss.jpg pumpkin_cheesecake_cut.jpg

This cheesecake is really good. I’m actually kind of sad that Dr. O and I will be flying home so late the night before Thanksgiving. If I had the evening to cook, I would definitely make this for my family.

In terms of texture, this is lighter than most of the other cheesecakes I’ve made. The water-bath technique seems to make a denser cheesecake, and this has more of a whipped texture. Add a second member of the “whipped family” – whipped cream, of course! – and you’re set. Tasty.

pumpkin_cheesecake.jpg

TIPS: Start to finish, the cheesecake takes 8 hours. Actual prep time is only 30 minutes, though, which isn’t bad. I usually plan to make a cheesecake the night before I want to serve it, since cool times do tend to be long.

To prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking, you want to make sure you don’t overmix the batter as you’re adding each new group of ingredients. Mix just until things are combined. Also, make sure you don’t open the oven to peek at the cheesecake during the two hours when the oven is off. It’s tempting, but just turn on the oven light to see how things are doing.

I did struggle a bit with getting the crust out of the pan in one piece. The first piece usually isn’t beautiful, no matter what you’re making, but it took me three good tries to dish one out that was photo-worthy. I think I’ll try a small metal spatula next time instead of a butter knife. (Butter knife? Clearly, the wine had gone to my head.) 🙂

Recipe link: Pumpkin Cheesecake




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