New York-Style Cheesecake

First of all, I’m sorry for not posting lately. I’m finally finished with residency selection, and, now that my nerves have calmed and my current rotation is a bit easier, I can focus once more on the blog. You should be hearing more from me in the next few months.

And now, on to the food!

Who doesn’t love cheesecake?

Well… actually, I don’t. In fact, I can’t stand it.

…But my sister does!! This thanksgiving, we were discussing what desserts to make for dinner, and I asked if we could do something other than pumpkin pie. Why, you may ask, would I not want serve this staple of the American Thanksgiving table?

Not gonna lie, I don’t like pumpkin pie either.  I know, sacrilege.

I convinced my sister to let me try making something different, and she, ahem, kindly agreed to give me a shot at making a different dessert. I picked pumpkin cheesecake, because 1) as stated above, my sister loves cheesecake, and 2) there is no better dessert repellent for me than the aforementioned item.  Talk about killing two birds with one stone! Well, four packages of cream cheese, one can of pumpkin and a box of graham crackers later, I was staring into a gaping crack that could have been the grand canyon of cheesecakes. On the plus side, no one could tell once I covered it in marshmallow sour cream topping (most delicious topping ever- recipe to come later.)

Two days later, I made another cheesecake for a family event, and this one turned out wonderfully! Not a single crack whatsoever. I think the reason behind the success of this cake may have been that it was baked at a lower temperature and allowed to cool in the water bath for a few minutes once outside the oven. I figured since I put in the effort I might as well try a bite, and I have to say that for a cheesecake, it tasted really good!

Lessons learned:

  1. Baking cheesecake at a lower temperature (325 degrees) results in less cracking in the center.
  2. When the cheesecake is in the oven, don’t open the door and allow it to bake for the recommended time (you can even let it go 5 minutes less.)
  3. Making cheesecake isn’t difficult at all, and you should definitely try it out over holidays for the cheesecake lover in your life.
  4. Heating up a microwave with nothing in it will cause it to light on fire and then you will owe someone a new microwave. I kid you not.

New York-Style Cheesecake
Adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 9 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the filling:

  • Five 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions:

For the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Grind the graham crackers to coarse crumbs in a food processor or with a rolling pin and a resealable plastic bag (I used a blender and it turned out just fine.)  Add the butter and sugar and process until well blended and crumb mixture begins to stick together. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, you can use a pastry blender or fork to add the butter and sugar.
  3. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom (not sides) of a 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Bake the crust until golden and firm to touch, about 25 minutes. Cool the crust in the pan on the rack. Wrap the outside of the pan with 3 layers of heavy-duty foil. Make sure to keep the oven at 325°F.

For the filling:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until blended.
  2. Add the eggs and egg yolk, 1 at a time, and beat until just blended, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Beat in the lemon juice, vanilla and salt.
  4. Sift in the flour, and beat on low speed until blended.

  1. Scrape the filling out of the bowl and over the crust, tapping it lightly to make any bubbles rise to the top and popping them with a toothpick.
  2. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan- if you, like me, do not own a large roasting pan, you can use an aluminum tray (one of those half size trays that you can get at your local grocery store for less than 3 dollars.) You may have to bend the sides of the tray out a bit, but it works well for holding the water bath in which the cake must be baked.
  3. To either your roasting pan or aluminum tray, add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cake, and place the cake in the oven.
  4. Bake the cheesecake in the water bath for 1 hr and 5 minutes. At this point, turn the oven off, and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it rest in the water bath for another 5 minutes. As the cheesecake cools, it will pull away from the sides of the pan, so run a knife along the edge of the cheesecake to make sure that no pieces of cake are left on the sides of the pan.
  6. Allow the cake to cool completely to room temperature, then cover and chill overnight. You can decorate it however you choose (I used blackberries and whipped cream.)

All that remained after we had guests over/Rosemary claimed part of the cake.

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