Now, onto the REAL reason you've come to this blog today:
Seriously is there anything that isn't better in New York? Pizza, shopping, and DEFINITELY cheesecake. I have never even been to New York, and I already love it. With all of the dining options, late-night menus, pizza, and cheesecake (and shopping!) I think we could be very happy together. But, I'd have to live outside of the city on a ton of land, I'm a country girl at heart. The only thing I can't figure out, NY style pizza is thin, and crispy, as opposed to Chicago's tall, deep-dish variety. But NY Style cheesecake, is tall, and deep, like Chicago's pizza. Random, huh?
Cheesecake and I get along VERY well. Just ask my hips, and my thighs. The four of us (Myself, my hips, my thighs, and my cheesecake) are thick as thieves. Which brings us to an important point. The two T's of cheesecakes. A perfect cheesecake should be tall, and thick. The taller, the better. This particular cheesecake, from Smitten Kitchen, almost overflowed my springform pan, which is just how it should be. A perfect cheesecake should also be thick, and dense, not gooey, like the stuff you buy in a tub at Wally World. This particular cheesecake fits the bill for both categories. It's tall, and thick, and dense, and delicious!
A couple of notes about this cheesecake recipe. The recipe calls for the oven to start at 550*, and to brown the top of the cheesecake for 10-12 minutes at that temperature. However, my cheesecake was more than brown after only 5 minutes, and even after reducing the oven temperature to 200*, it still got a little more brown than I would have preferred. So, you may want to play around with your oven a little bit to find the sweet spot. All that really means is more cheesecake, and who can argue with that?
Personally, I'm a naked cheesecake kind of girl. Yes, I said naked. Go ahead, take a second, and do the Beavis n' Butthead laugh, I'll wait. Got it out of your system? Good. Now, back to the task at hand. I happen to like naked, unadulterated cheesecake. It allows you to get the full effect of the sweet, tangy, creamy goodness, without interrupting the smoothness by some other concoction on the top. However, many in The Family prefer to make their sweets include a 'healthy' serving of fruits and vegetables (carrot cake, anyone? I mean really, carrots in cake?!), and this blackberry topping by the Pioneer Woman was so beautiful, I was inclined to oblige. And it couldn't have been easier to make! Considering my brother-in-law, Keith, was eating it alone, after he'd finished his 2nd piece of cheesecake, I think it's safe to say it was a huge success!
New York Style Cheesecake
from: Smitten Kitchen
Note: I prefer an intense, cream cheese taste in my cheesecakes. Because of this, I like a VERY light flavor of citrus in my cheesecake. Just kind of a hint of it in the background that makes you go, 'hmmm, what's that?' Accordingly, I adjusted the amount of orange/lemon zest when I made the cheesecake. I used maybe 1/4 teaspoon of each. But, I will list the original measurements here, in case you prefer a more 'in your face,' citrus flavor.
Hallelujahs: Delicious, Tall and Thick, and difficult to mess up!Crumb Crust:
Hellfires: Graham cracker crust. I love the taste, but pressing graham cracker crusts into the bottom of pans is my absolute LEAST favorite baking chore ever. It's like the seventh circle of hell. But this was delicious enough to make it worth it. Also, waiting for it to cool before eating is torture of the worst kind! I mean, really, some cheesecake recipes call for 12-18 HOURS?!?! Of course, I couldn't wait that long, I only waited 5 hours, and it was still delicious. Don't tell the cheesecake gods, though, okay?
15 sheets of Graham Crackers
1 stick of melted butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
-Crush graham crackers into crumbs. Most people use a food processor. I happen not to own a food processor, so I tried several methods of this. First, I placed some graham crackers into my magic bullet:
-This did NOT work very well. It was loud, and left LOTS of large chunks. I do not recommend this method.
-Then I tried just crushing them with my fingers. Again, not very useful.
-Finally, I placed them in a ziploc bag, and used that handy marble rolling pin I told you about. This worked the best.
-Once your graham crackers are crushed, mix all ingredients, and press into bottoms/sides of your springform pan.
-Note: It really is important for a cheesecake to use a springform pan. I bought mine at good, old Wally World for around $10. So, while it's necessary to have a springform pan, it is not necessary to have a $30 or $40 Williams-Sonoma springform pan.
(5) 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups of sugar
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon each, lemon zest, and orange zest
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
-Preheat oven to 550*.
-Cream together cream cheese, flour, sugar, and zests until light and fluffy:
-Add eggs, and yolks, one at a time.
-Scrape down bowl between eggs/yolks to be sure there are no stripes of unmixed cream cheese in there.
-Pour into springform pan.
-I had a ton of batter left over that just wouldn't fit in my springform pan. And you just KNOW I couldn't let that goodness go to waste. So, if you happen to have some leftover batter, and some left over graham crackers, this is a very good way to make use of them (recycle, recycle!):
-Place springform pan on cookie sheet with lip in order to catch any drips.
-Brown at 550* for 5-10 minutes
-Turn down oven temperature to 200* (I left my oven door open for about 5 minutes to reduce the temperature), and bake for about 1 hour.
-Note: even when done, your cheesecake will still jiggle. The top will be firm to the touch when done, but will still jiggle, all in one piece, like Jello, when done. So don't leave it in there until it's not moving at all, or it will be overdone.
-Allow cheesecake to cool completely on a baking rack before placing in refrigerator.
-Note: I have NEVER had a cheesecake not crack. Water bath, or no water bath. Just tell your type-A self to stuff it, and enjoy the goodness without worrying about the cracks. Just call it "homey, and old-fashioned," and all will be right with the world. Or, just pour the blackberry sauce all over the top, and no one will be the wiser!
-Chill in your fridge for 6 hours before serving. If you can wait that long. If not, I won't tell!
Hallelujahs: Fast, easy, only three ingredients, delicious
2 packages of blackberries (mine were 12 oz each)
A couple of handfuls of sugar (to taste!)
5 or 6 tablespoons of water
-Place all ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil.
-Allow to boil (while stirring) for about 4-5 minutes.
-Remove from heat, and serve.
-Note, the original PW recipe calls for completely cooling the blackberry sauce, but really, who can wait for that? I mean, I suppose if you were efficient and made it right after placing the cheesecake in the fridge, you'd have no trouble. But, if you're a procrastinator like me, and you make it after the cheescake's ready, and 5 hungry faces are staring at it, like ravenous wolves, you can go ahead, and serve it hot, right off the stove. Think of it like hot fudge on ice cream.
-Oh, and speaking of ice cream, if you have some of this leftover (of which I had a TON), save it, place it in the refrigerator, and pour it over your ice cream, when you need a treat later in the week. Because there won't be any cheesecake left over. At all. It's just too good.
Original Recipes can be found at: http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/04/new-york-cheesecake/ and http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/07/blackberry-cheesecake/