Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Evolution of Cheesecake

How is it that I do not have a single picture of a cheesecake?
 

Since When Did Making a Cheesecake take Four Days?  It normally takes a good full day.  I mean, I always make them the day before so that they can chill in the refrigerator overnight.  This one, sheesh, is going to take four days, but I guess I have to blame the cheese.

I started making cheesecakes back in 2002/2003.  It started out as a refrigerator variety, because I didn't own any spring form pans.  I wanted to re-make the Jello ones that I had made when I was growing up.  Back then, most recipes for refrigerator cheesecake involve Cool Whip, gelatin, or sweetened condensed milk, non of which I use. This meant I had to make a new recipe. 

No Bake Cream Cheese Pie

1 3/4 cup crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup melted butter

16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, beaten until thick
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
(add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to make chocolate)
 
Mix together crumbs and melted butter and press evenly into a pie plate.
Beat heavy cream until very thick.
Blend together cream cheese, sugar, whipped cream and vanilla until smooth and fully incorporated.
Pour filling into pie crust and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.


The creation of successful execution of this recipe, started me down a path that has resulted in over twenty recipes for cheesecake ranging from vanilla to Chocolate Covered Strawberry Port Wine (I think that is the longest title I have in my collection).

Changes have occurred over the years.  For a long time I used Honey Maid graham crackers for the crust, but then I learned how to make graham crackers so I started making my own.  I make cookies before I make cheesecake if it is a cookie crumb crust.  I try to use as many ingredients as I can that have been processed as little as possible.  The one thing that I thought I would always buy was the cheese.  Then I started playing around with making cheese.

This is how a simple chocolate cheesecake for an 11 year old's birthday takes four days to make.  Today I made the chocolate cookies that will bee the base for this cheesecake.  I am also waiting for the light cream mixture to reach room temperature so that I can add the starter culture that will eventually change it into a big lump of curdley goodness (about 12 hours).  That will have to drain for an additional 12 hours.  Then the magical mixing and baking comes into play, followed by the cooling process which consists of about 4 hours in the oven and overnight in the refrigerator.  The next day it gets topped and served to our little gathering of family and friends.

Chocolate Cheesecake

1 3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs*
1/3 cup melted butter

24 ounces cream cheese
1  cup sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 cup whipped cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Heat oven to 325 F.

Mix together crumbs and melted butter.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake crust for 15 minutes at 325F and then set aside to cool.

Blend together cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, waiting to add the next one until the first is completely incorporated.  Add in the sour cream, whipped cream and vanilla extract.  Mix until well blended.  Add in the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.  Mix until combined and pour into cooled crust.

Put a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven and fill it 1/2 full with water.  Place cheesecake on top rack and bake at 325F for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, reduce the heat of the oven to 300 degrees and cook for approximately 1 hour. The cheesecake should still be a little jiggly in the middle.  Turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake on the top rack.  Prop the door open with a towel and let the cheesecake slowly cool.  Once it is room temperature, remove the cheesecake, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

*Chocolate Cookie Recipe
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and the sugar together then add the egg and vanilla.  Mix the flour cocoa powder baking powder and salt together and then add to butter mixture until combined.  Scoop tablespoon sized mounds onto parchment lined cookie sheets and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool. Makes about 20 cookies.

Variation:
add 1/4 cup finely ground dark roast coffee and 1/4 cup rough chopped coffee beans along with 1/4 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate

Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen
Photographic Artist and Jewelry Designer
www.ardentphotography.com
http://smcternen.etsy.com
http://ardentlife.etsy.com

2 comments:

  1. I just did a non cook Ginger Crunch. Ground a packet of bought Ginger Biscuits, melted 100 grammes of butter to mix. Then topped off with a really thick icing of Melted butter, Icing sugar, 1 T golden syrup, 2 teaspoons ground ginger & a little milk to mix. Make it good & thick, spoon over biscuit base, cool & enjoy!!!!!

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