Cheesecake, Cheesecake, and more cheesecake.

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As a former pastry chef I have a passion for pies, cakes, tortes, muffins….you get the picture.  Out of all the delectable treats that I have created I will always love cheesecake.  That creamy cake topped with fruits, nuts or chocolate is heaven.  The way the cheesecake melts in your mouth.  The combination of sweet dairy and fruit is intoxicating.  When I cut a cheesecake the smell fills the air and I am not satisfied until that sweet taste finds my tongue.  Of course I have been following a mostly vegan diet and cheesecake is the polar opposite of vegan.  Butter in the crust.  Cake made with cream cheese, eggs, sour cream and sugar. A far cry from vegan.  It is vegetarian and fits into the vegetarian diet.  And as long as you do not eat to excess I believe that you have not taken a drastic detour away from the healthy diet.

The basic cheesecake recipe is simple.  Eggs, Cream cheese sugar and sour cream.  Yet to get that creamy taste you have to use a couple of tricks.  Do not over mix the batter.  Add your eggs one at a time.  Start when the cream cheese is at room temperature.  Bake the cheesecake in a water bath.  Once the baking is done crack the oven open and allow it to cool for one hour in the oven.  If you follow these you will have a cheesecake that will be a delight for your dinner guests.  There is nothing better than the look on your guests face when they bite into a fork full of cheesecake and fresh strawberries. SO now that you know my secrets I am going to give you my two favorite recipes.

Strawberry Cheesecake

Recipe:

6 oz shortbread cookies

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp sugar 

Grind the cookies and melt butter. Add all in a bowl with the sugar and mix until moist. Pat in the bottom of a ten inch springform pan. Set aside.

4 eight oz packages cream cheese

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup sour cream

In a kitchen mixer cream the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add vanilla and one egg at a time until the mixture is smooth. Do not over mix.  Add the Sour cream and mix until incorporated. Pour into the springform pan on top of the crust. Smooth the top of the batter.  Wrap the outside of the pan in foil so that it is water proof.  Use a single sheet of aluminum foil.  Two pieces folded together will leak.  I speak from experience.  Submerge it in a water bath so that the water comes up one inch on the side of the springform pan.  Put in a preheated 325F oven for 1 hour.  After one hour shut off oven and crack open oven door. Let cool for one hour in the oven then refrigerate for 3 hours.

In a double boiler heat 3/4 lb to 1 lb white chocolate. Add a bit of milk to thin it.  The chocolate needs to be thin enough to pour over the strawberries, thick enough to set and thin enough to cut easily when served.  Cut the green top off 2 quarts of strawberries and place them on the top of the cheesecake cut end down.  Spoon the warmed white chocolate over the top. The finished cheesecake will look like red snow capped mountains.  Refrigerate overnight.  When serving cut with a sharp knife that has been heated in hot water.

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Recipe:

6 oz chocolate cookies

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp sugar 

Grind the cookies and melt butter. Add all in a bowl with the sugar and mix until moist. Pat in the bottom of a ten inch springform pan. Set aside.

4 eight oz packages cream cheese

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup heavy cream

shaved dark chocolate approximately 1 lb

Heat the heavy cream until it boils.  Pour over shaved chocolate and stir until it is smooth.  You can put into the microwave for 10 seconds on high to heat some more if it is still stiff.  The chocolate needs to be thin enough to pour over the raspberriess, thick enough to set and thin enough to cut easily when served.  Set aside.

In a kitchen mixer cream the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add vanilla and one egg at a time until the mixture is smooth. Do not over mix.  Add 3/4 cup of the melted dark chocolate and mix until incorporated. Pour into the springform pan on top of the crust. Smooth the top of the batter.  Wrap the outside of the pan in foil so that it is water proof.  Use a single sheet of aluminum foil.  Two pieces folded together will leak.  I speak from experience.  Submerge it in a water bath so that the water comes up one inch on the side of the springform pan.  Put in a preheated 325F oven for 1 hour.  After one hour shut off oven and crack open oven door. Let cool for one hour in the oven then refrigerate for 3 hours.

Rinse 1 pint of raspberries and pat them dry.  Place evenly in one layer on top of the cheesecake. Rewarm the dark chocolate mixture.  Spoon the warmed dark chocolate over the top. Refrigerate overnight.  When serving cut with a sharp knife that has been heated in hot water.

 

You now have two basic cheesecake recipes.  To make other cheesecake variations you can substitute various items for the sour cream/chocolate cream.  For Pumpkin Cheesecake substitute pumpkin for the sour cream and add pumpkin pie seasoning to the mix.  Put on a pecan crust.  For Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake substitute peanutbutter for the sour cream and put on a chocolate crumb crust with chocolate topping.  There are endless variations.  Just have fun and enjoy the recipes.

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