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My Favorite Cheesecake and BSI: Cream Cheese Announcement

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Fact: I don’t have a sweet tooth, I have 24 sweet teeth and if I hadn’t had my wisdom teeth and first molars removed to make more room in my tiny sugar-addicted mouth, I have no doubt they would be sweet too.  Fact: Despite my sweet teeth, there are certain things I make or buy very rarely because I like them so much that my self-control us utterly nill when in their general vicinity.  These things are: any kind of cookies, but particularly homemade chocolate chip, chocolate éclairs, pecan pie, and cheesecake.

Prior to giving in and making this particular recipe, I hadn’t made a cheesecake in seven years.  But a friend requested one last year and I chose this recipe since I found it through one of my most trusted sources.  After raving over it for two days, my friend let me have a piece while I was at her house (it was a gift to her in exchange for a favor she paid me), and I’ve never made another cheesecake recipe since.  I have now made her three of these cheesecakes, which is a perfect arrangement because she always lets me have a slice and I don’t have to worry about going crazy and eating the whole thing in one sitting since it is not my cheesecake to dominate.  But I totally would if I could, which is why I will never make this cheesecake only for myself.  Never say never, but I’m saying it.  NEVER.  It is just too risky.  (Full disclosure: the last cheesecake I possessed that was only for the two of us was ten years ago.  It was about two-thirds the size of this one, and I ate it all by myself.  In one day.  And now you understand why I make them so rarely.)

This cheesecake comes out perfectly creamy with the best sweet-tangy flavor, enhanced by lemon zest.  Due to the minimal mixing time, it is not prone to cracks caused by air bubbles in the batter.  This doesn’t matter to me since I usually cover my cheesecake with a fruit topping anyway, but if you’re a cheesecake purist, you might dig the perfect top that comes out without doing anything special to achieve it.  No water baths, no pan of hot water sitting in a rack below the cheesecake, no baking it at super-low temps or leaving it in the oven an hour after you turn it off.  It’s a very simple, straight-forward recipe that yields a superior result, far better than any other I’ve tried.  Try it for yourself and you be the judge.

Favorite Cheesecake

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Crust:
1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 25 squares)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

Filling:
2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 (16 oz) tub of sour cream

To prepare crumb crust: In a mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients together with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the pan, using your fingers or the smooth bottom of a glass. Refrigerate the crust while preparing the filling.

To prepare filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute just until smooth and free of any lumps. Gradually add the sugar and beat just until incorporated.  Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to slowly beat until combined. Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest. Blend in the sour cream. The batter should be well mixed but not overbeaten. Overbeating incorporates too much air and will cause the cake to puff when baking, then fall and crack when cooling. Pour filling into the crust-lined pan and poke any air bubbles you see with a toothpick.  Smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 50-55 minutes (mine usually takes a little more than an hour, but I think my oven runs cooler than most). The cheesecake should still jiggle slightly, it will firm up after chilling. Be careful not to overcook! Do not do a toothpick test in the cake’s center, this will make a crack. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours to set up. Demold and transfer to a cake plate. Slice the cheesecake with a thin, nonserrated knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry after each cut.

Recipe source: adapted slightly from Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Cheesecake

BSI Announcement

I’ve chosen CREAM CHEESE for this week’s Blogger Secret Ingredient contest.  You can use regular, low-fat, homemade, or even vegan.  Sweet or savory, snack or main course, you choose!  I know you guys probably have a lot of great recipes using cream cheese and I can’t wait to see what you submit!

How to enter:

  • Make a recipe using the secret ingredient and write a blog post about it.
  • Include a link back to this post.
  • Add your entry to the comments section at the bottom of this post (permalink to your entry, not homepage, please).
  • Older/archived posts may be used as long as they’re updated with a link to this post.
  • If you don’t have a blog, but would still like to enter, please email me your entry (w/ photo) to vraklis (at) yahoo (dot) com

Deadline for submissions is Sunday, April 17th at 9pm (Central).  I will post the roundup and the winner the following day and send a prize to the person whose recipe I like best.  Please let me know if you are interested in hosting next week’s BSI.

For a list of all the previous hosts/choices, check out Biz’s BSI page.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comment area or send me an email and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
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