Friday, January 14, 2011

A Birthday Treat

Today is a very special day because it's my amazing husband's birthday!!! So, in honor of the momentous occasion, I decided last night around 6 p.m. that I needed to make him a proper birthday treat. ("Why didn't I plan ahead?" you ask, despite knowing today was going to be Landon's birthday? I don't know!) 

After listing a few things off to him that I was willing to make, it was clear after I mentioned cheesecake and received his follow up question of, "You are going to make a cheesecake?" that, that is what he really wanted. So, I pulled out one of my favorite cheesecake recipes and headed to the store (because, of course, I had no plans to make anything until this moment).

Now, for those of you who made it your New Year's resolution to eat healthy, I advise you to simply stop reading now. Seriously. 

This cheesecake is not for those on a diet. Matter of fact, it might be one of the worst things you could ever eat, but it is oh so good. I found the recipe somewhere online, and it is supposedly a "Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake." I'm not going to claim it's as good as the restaurant's, but it would rival any other homemade cheesecake.

Here's what you need. First, let's start with the crust. That's one of the things that makes this cheesecake a little different than others. It doesn't just have a graham cracker crust. The ingredients include:

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup finely chopped vanilla wafers
2 Tablespoons melted butter

First things first, pull out your food processor or mini chopper and make sure everything is nice and fine.
Next, add in your melted butter. It won't be a real moist crust, but that's okay. Press the mixture into a 9-inch buttered springform pan, trying to line the sides as much as possible. The recipe says to try and go about one and a half inch up the sides, but I can never get mine that high. I just do what I can.

Next, it's time to work on the filling. Here is what you are going to need:

24 ounces cream cheese
1 1/3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
16 ounces sour cream
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice

This time, you'll need to pull out your mixer. The recipe says to begin with all ingredients at room temperature. This really is wise, but I have to confess that my ingredients are never fully room temp, so my cheesecake may not be quite as smooth as it should be. But, honestly, I always forget that one little direction, and it's usually too late for me to wait for everything to warm up!

Anyway, back to the recipe ... start by beating your cream cheese until it is light and fluffy, keeping the mixer on the low setting throughout this entire process.

Next, add the sugar a little at a time, continuing to beat the mixture until creamy. 

Now, add one egg at a time and beat after each. 

When eggs have been mixed into the cream cheese, add the flour, vanilla and lemon juice and mix well. Add the sour cream last and once again, beat well. By now, you should have a creamy mixture.

Add this mixture into your springform pan. You should have plenty of filling so that your pan is very full.

My mouth is already watering! Okay, so the hardest part is done but unfortunately, we are no where near being able to enjoy!

Next, place the pan on the top rack in the middle of a 325 degree preheated oven for one hour and 15 minutes. (I was going to post a pic of my cheesecake in the oven, but then I realized how dirty the inside of my oven is! Yikes! I need to add that to my to-do list!) A little advice, speaking from my own experience, don't put your oven rack as high up as it will go. The cheesecake will rise and if it's too high up, you will have a nice mess on the top oven burners!

When the time is up (and your kitchen is smelling really good), prop open the oven door. Now, once again, you don't get to enjoy just yet. Leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door open for another hour. (I know, for those of you like me who are impatient, this recipe is a good test of patience!)

After one hour, you can finally remove the cheesecake from the oven. Let it cool pretty well and then place the cheesecake in the fridge. The recipe says to leave the cheesecake in the fridge for 24 hours so that it can season. If you think ahead to make this 24 hours before you are planning to eat in, then by all means, follow the directions. It will be worth the wait.

But, since I didn't get started on mine until 6 p.m. yesterday (really more like 7 p.m., by the time I went to the store), then we'll be digging in a little early! We have some friends coming over tonight to  celebrate Landon's birthday and help us eat the cheesecake. I can't wait!

Now, one thing with cheesecakes that I have never been able to avoid is cracking. Every cheesecake I have ever made has cracked, including the one last night.

I know some people will cook the cheesecake in a water bath. I've never done this but would love to hear if you've perfected the "no crack" cheesecake and have a secret.

If, like me, you haven't, then that's okay. There are a few ways to remedy the situation. There is  actually a video on of a professional showing how to fill in the cracks. He makes it look really easy. If it had not been 11 p.m. last night by the time my cheesecake was done, I might have tried this, but instead, I decided to use another tried and true trick -- topping. I always buy a little topping for the cheesecake, though it really doesn't need anything. One of my favorite toppings is cherry pie filling, but you could also do hot fudge, caramel or strawberry topping.

I figure tonight, once it's nice and chilled, and I've sliced it and added some topping, no one will really know that it was cracked. Also, as much as I'd love for my cheesecake to look perfect, all that really matters is the taste, and I can guarantee that it will be good tonight!


Ashley Newton said...

Looks AMAZING!! Is this the same recipe of the 20 lb cheesecake you made in college???

Kristin said...

It's not the exact same recipe but very similar. We had a piece last night, and it was really good! I highly recommend!