Monday, October 7, 2013

Classic Cheesecake (with a tip)

Growing up, cheesecake was one of those things my parents talked about like it was pure impossibility.  (Also they talked about how high fat it was and were always looking for low fat versions, which couldn't have helped). Anyway, I grew up believing cheesecake was just hard. My Uncle Ralph had this recipe that my parents just raved about, but were always talking about how they just couldn't make this cheesecake. I don't know that I ever actually ate this cheesecake--it was like fairy tale, Uncle Ralph's cheesecake.

As an adult, I realize that cheesecake can be a tiny bit tricky. It can crack on top or come out dry and crumbly or even chalky, or just be sort of lame and boring tasting (I believe that at least half of the cheesecake haters of this world don't like cheesecake for one of those reasons).

I, however, am a devoted cheesecake fan. As such, I've realized that cheesecake is not too terrifying of a beast--cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and a bit of lemon. The tricky thing is--and this is my tip in all its simplicity--you can't overcook it. And overcooking it is easy to do because when it's done it doesn't look done. When it's done it jiggles in the middle. Regular cake doesn't jiggle in the middle when it's done. Pregnant women don't jiggle in the middle when they're done. But cheesecake jiggles in the middle when it's done. You want to take your cheesecake out at about 160-180 degrees--preferably closer to 160. This will help prevent cracking, but more importantly (and more reliably--I still get a crack here or there), it will be silky smooth, creamy goodness. Now let me repeat that at 160-170, your center is still kind of jiggly and it's scary to take something out of the oven when it jiggles. I get it, but you should do it anyway. If it's at 160, it's thoroughly cooked heat-wise and it will continue to cook and set up as it sits and cools. Try it.

Below is Uncle Ralph's recipe--a steady, delicious classic cheesecake. A recipe that I finally--at the age of 36--made and thoroughly enjoyed.

I adorned it with this raspberry sauce, some squirts of homemade whipped cream, and raspberries from my bushes (because I'm cool. that's why).

Uncle Ralph's Classic Cheesecake
makes 1 9-inch spring form pan
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Cool time: 4 hours
Cost: $3.80, plus crust, which will bring you up to about $4.50 (this is about $.45/serving--take that Cheesecake Factory)
cream cheese: 2.00, sugar: .10, eggs: .20, sour cream: 1.50

2 8-oz packages cream cheese
3/4 C sugar
2 eggs
1 pint sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
dash salt

Grease your springform pan (mine is 9 inches I think). Make a graham cracker crust (this is my favorite) and press it into the pan.

Preheat oven to 325. Cream together sugar and cream cheese. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well. Add sour cream. Mix well. {See-it's not so hard--you just throw everything into a bowl and beat it; it's the cooking technique that's gonna make or break you. Jiggly middles, people, jiggly middles.}

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the center still wobbles and an instant read thermometer reads at least 160 (and for all that is cheesecakey good, less than 180) when inserted in the center.

Remove cheesecake from oven and let it cool completely, then refrigerate. This is a four-hour deal, so plan on that, okay.

Top with raspberry sauce or whatever your poison might be.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Jeanie, I sure hope you'll bring this lovely cheesecake over to the next Food on Friday on Carole's chatter - the theme is desserts! Cheers



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