Cheesecake, anyone?


I'm not really a fan of cheesecakes, but I made one anyway.  Just good old plain cheesecake, without any fruit topping.  Velvety and fluffy, this one's a winner.

Straining the cheesecake mixture is the key to get a smooth, velvety texture.

And for the first time, instead of using crushed graham crackers from the supermarket, I made my own.  It tastes so much better.

Cheesecake recipe:

3/4 cup crushed Graham crackers (homemade recipe below)
two (2) 8 oz. cream cheese (1 pound), room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

for the Glaze:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2.  Put the graham cracker crumbs in a 6-inch springform pan and press in an even layer on the bottom.  Bake the crust until golden brown and firm, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool.  Leave the oven on.

3.  When the crust is cool, wrap the bottom of the pan with plastic wrap and place in the oven for 3 minutes to shrink the plastic. (This will prevent the water in the bain marie from entering the pan during baking.)  Return to the wire rack to cool.  Still leave the oven on.

4.  With a mixer using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, smooth and creamy, without any lumps - 5 to 8 minutes.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth.  Stop the mixer.

5.  With the mixer set on low speed, drop the eggs, one at a time, into the cream cheese mixture.  Beat each egg until thoroughly incorporated before adding the next.  Slowly add the heavy cream and then the vanilla.  Beat until smooth, 5 to 8 minutes.

6.  Strain the batter through a sieve into a clean bowl, then pour into the cooled crust.

7.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

8.  Place the filled cheesecake pan in a roasting pan.  Carefully pour the boiling water into the larger pan to reach halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.  Bake until the filling is set and just barely jiggles in the center, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Remove from the water bath and place on the wire rack to cool completely.

9.  To make the glaze:  Add the sour cream and sugar to a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Spread it over the top of the cooled cheesecake.

10.  Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  


Graham crackers recipe:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
granulated sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

1.  Sift together both flours, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl.  Set aside.

2.  In a mixer using the paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

3.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, beating just until combined after each addition.  Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling, or up to 2 days.

4.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5.  Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.  Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough.

6.  Bake the crackers until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.

7.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar as soon as you remove the baked cookies from the oven.  The crackers should snap crisply when cooled.

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