Monday, January 20, 2014

Cheesecake: A Love Story

I don't think it's a secret at this point that I love all things sweet. Chocolate, ice cream, and cake specifically. But cheesecake? It's in a league of it's own. Decadent and rich, dense and creamy...does it really need an explanation? I thought not. So I've tried a couple recipes over the years and none hit the spot quite like the one I made most recently for my mom's birthday. I had tried a Junior's Cheesecake years ago when my mom ordered it for me as a special treat and I just had to try to recreate it. Yes, there was the fifty dollar price tag I wanted to avoid but then I also love a challenge. I knew it would take time and a commitment to following the steps, something I don't normally like to do. Take time and be patient..umm...what?? But I followed the recipe to a t and lemme tell ya, it's worth it!!! We had a little shindig for Ma at our house and I have to admit, was slightly giddy at the fact that with our small group, there was cheesecake to spare. How long did it last, you ask? Two nights. The hubster and I made quick work of it. Yes, I was bitter he felt he could just grab a fork and dive right in with me but I guess that's part of being a good wife. Sigh.
Here it is. Just do it once and you'll thank me.
Sponge Crust: (Much, much, much more time consuming than a graham cracker crust but just this it.)
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 drops lemon extract
3 tbs. melted butter
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
(Don't have lemon extract or cream of tartar on hand because maybe you don't bake all the time? Or maybe, like me, you love to bake but rely on your old standbys and boxed mixes so you don't have fancy ingredients on hand?? I understand. But please don't take shortcuts or omit anything. It's worth splurging for!!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9-inch spring form pan. Don't have one? You need it. Go ahead and take a quick jaunt over to Target and get yourself one. Ok? Ok. Now, beat the egg yolks for about three minutes then add the 1/3 cup sugar and mix. Add remaining ingredients (except egg whites and cream of tartar. Keep those separate.) Mix until combined. Then, with clean beaters, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar about five minutes, until thick. Fold those into the batter mix and bake about eight minutes until just set. Let cool.
(Stating the obvious. This is a time consuming mess. But if you've ever had a Junior's, it's that distinctive sponge cake crust that makes it sooo good!!)
4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese (must be soft! Room temp!)
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tbs. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (I suggest you buy a pint and use the rest for homemade whipped cream..)
Mix ingredients until smooth and pour into pan, over crust. Bake for one hour or until just set. No burning allowed. Let cool until it comes to room temp. and then refrigerate, covered, overnight. If you are making homemade whipped cream, blend the remaining cup or so of heavy whipping cream with sugar to taste. Whip until thick and to your desired consistency. Serve slices of the cheesecake with the cream and toppings of your choice. This is the time to get creative. I served it with pecans mixed with caramel and it was amazing. Enjoy!

                                                                    The sponge crust...
                                                                Perfect just like this...
                                                                But how pretty is this???

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