Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The not-so-perfect / perfect cheesecake


I made this cheesecake for a family gathering last weekend. It was only my second time ever baking a cheesecake, and the first time was with my friend, Siobhan, who is an awesome cook and did most of the work. (Thanks to my sister-in-law Nikki for taking the photo).

I was not very confident in my cheesecake skills, 45 minutes into the baking time there was a giant crack forming. Oh, the dreaded crack.

Well, let's just say by the time I took the cheesecake out of the oven there was a huge X-type crack in the middle. I fretted and stressed and tweeted about my ugly cheesecake. I then spent the next 30 minutes reading the reviews from the recipe. Turns out the recipe is great for taste, but there are modifications to be made if you want a perfect-looking cheesecake.

The first modification is to bake the cheesecake in a water bath. This apparently will prevent cracking, though I've also heard that sometimes you can do everything right and still have cracks.

I covered the imperfections with strawberries and it began to resemble somewhat of a pretty dessert. All worries went out the window when I had my first bite. Amazing. Seriously, this cheesecake was delicious.

Be sure to read the notes below before attempting to bake this cheesecake, you can learn from my mistakes!

Chantal's New York Cheesecake (recipe adapted from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

15 graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4(8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 inch springform pan.
2.In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.
3.In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.
4.Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking. Chill in refrigerator until serving.

Notes, the cream cheese and eggs should be at room temperature. 2 tablespoons wasn't nearly enough butter to mix with the graham crackers so I just kept adding melted butter until the crust was the texture I thought it should be. I think I ended using at least 6 tablespoons. Do not overbeat the batter, that also can lead to cracks. Mix enough to incorporate all the ingredients and get rid of lumps. I thought leaving the cheesecake in the oven for 5-6 hours (with it turned off) seemed a bit excessive, so I left it in for about an hour and a half. I think they recommend leaving it in the oven to avoid cracks, so it may work for you. I encourage you to read the reviews for more tips and modifications.

Enjoy!

5 comments:

  1. I've always been too intimidated by cheesecakes to attempt one...but you've inspired me and I think the time has come to conquer my fear!

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  2. When I made my first cheesecake, I overmixed it and it rose gorgeously and looked beautiful, but then as it cooled it fell. Like a itty bitty cheesecake. Definitely a good lesson learned! Glad to hear I am not the only one with cheesecake trials..

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  3. This cheesecake was amazing...I think I ate 3/4 of it!!!

    Libby

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  4. That recipe is one of the best, most versatile cheesecake recipes I've seen. It's my go-to cheesecake recipe! I've made a key lime version with a white chocolate ganache that is super tasty (and bonus, the ganache hides any cracks)!

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  5. I've prepared at home a lot of recipes and cheesecakes so I've never reached exactly the point I need, so I think with this recipe and the ingredients you giving us this time my cheesecake will be delicious.

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