Have you ever had a food craving that relentlessly popped into your mind for days, maybe even weeks? In the shower, talking to the mailperson, rock climbing, performing synchronized swimming routines and then, it hits you, you want (no need) that thing. My ‘thing’ recently was cheesecake.
Few things can hold my attention longer than cheesecake in the dessert category. No-bake or bake really doesn’t make too much of a difference to me, I just want that creamy, decadent, chilled slice (or more) to devour. Top it with a berry sauce-like raspberry coulis- and you could tell me Grey’s Anatomy has been canceled and I will be ok until my slice is gone. Then, you should hand me another slice and probably a workout dvd that I could now do during the time slot where my beloved show once was for the calorie damage.
This cheesecake was an experiment to see if I could concoct a baked, creamy filling without a mix of cream cheese and sour cream or heavy cream. (Sour cream or heavy cream often accompany traditional cheesecakes.) I picked up quality cream cheese and half & half at the co-op, made a town away from a trusted source. Next, I scoured my cheesecake recipes, combining a few until I was satisfied and then, the experiment began. Have you ever made a cheesecake without sour cream or heavy cream?
My preferred crust is graham cracker so that was easy. I also like a hint of vanilla or lemon-vanilla was my choice this time but you can use lemon juice/lemon zest instead. The remaining instructions follow your basic baked cheesecake with a springform pan, foil, and a waterbath in a large pan while baking. I made a raspberry coulis (sauce) with my fresh picked berries to top it all off, which I can’t recommend enough. Yum!
Do you have another method for baked cheesecake? I’m curious- do you often resort to buying cheesecake from the freezer section of the grocery store? (There are some good ones in there.)
The results were wonderful, perhaps not the best I’ve ever had but definitely one to please a crowd (or yourself and a few friends for a night with the tv). I noticed that the filling pulled away from the crust on the second day but didn’t harm the taste in any way. Greg took it to work and said he enjoyed it at room temp even more than completely chilled. Bonus. I tried it both ways, letting the flavors culminate and ruminate in my mouth, and was quite happy with my work.
Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis Sauce (optional)
Serves 8 to 10
Graham Cracker Crust
Makes enough for 9-inch pan
1 ½ cups finely ground graham crackers (or cookies of your choice)
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
24 oz. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup half & half
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla or1 tsp lemon juice/zest as well-optional, depends on your preference
*raspberry coulis sauce recipe below*
**Remove the cream cheese from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray or rub with butter. Stir all of the crust ingredients together and press into the bottom of the springform pan. You can chill this for a few hours or immediately bake. Before baking, wrap the pan in 2 layers of aluminum foil, covering the bottom and up to the sides. Bake for about 14 minutes, until the crust begins to become firm and darken. Cool the crust, keeping the foil intact, and begin the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325F.
Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and flour at medium speed until smooth, a few minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add half & half, eggs (one at a time) and vanilla or lemon juice/zest (optional), mixing until incorporated. Pour into cooled crust. Get out a large roasting pan and place the springform inside, with the foil still intact. Fill the roasting pan with warm water until it reaches halfway up the springform pan sides. (This is the waterbath that most cheesecakes require to cook evenly so cracking doesn’t happen.)
Bake uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes-the center will still be wobbly and will set as it cools. Remove the springform pan to a rack and allow the cake to cool for about 2 hours. Remove the foil at this point and chill the cake, in the pan, for at least a few hours. When ready to serve, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake and remove the outer form of the pan to cut. Top with raspberry coulis if you wish-recipe below. (The cheesecake will keep for 3 days, covered, in the fridge.)
Raspberry Coulis (Sauce) adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe
Makes about 2 cups
2 1/4 cups fresh (or frozen) raspberries
3/4 cup sugar
½ cup water
Place the berries, sugar, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce to medium low. Cook until sugar is dissolved, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Place the mixture in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. You can keep the seeds in the sauce if you desire or do the next step to remove them. Pass the sauce through a strainer and discard solids. Store in a container in the fridge for up to a week. I liked the seeds in my sauce to keep it from being too sweet.