Sunday, July 29, 2012

New York Cheesecake

5 packages of cream cheese in this bad boy.


Can a get a whoop whoop?

My dad and I made this cheesecake together, trying to share the kitchen space nicely. Since our kitchen is long and narrow, when three people try to make lunch it usually involves some hungry grumbling and much kerfuffle.
But my we cooperated for the sake of this wonderful, delicious, creamy, uber-rich, tall, spectacular dessert.


Who cares if it cracks? It has character. It's not like the crack messes up the "delicate crumb and light flavor." This is a mass of cheese, sugar, and eggs. Eat up!


Though, if you're really concerned about asthetics, cracking is usually caused by the egg proteins coagulating (binding together from being cooked). So, if yours cracks, it may be that you overbaked it (using an instant read thermometer can help with this) or overwhipped the eggs.

...or maybe your dad perforated the surface too many times with his instant read thermometer, weakening the surface tension.


In any case, making your own cheesecake is as rewarding as making bread, but without the scary yeast part. It takes just as long too, so plan accordingly--you can make it the morning of the day you plan to serve it or a day before, to allow the flavors to come together. But at least this version doesn't require a water bath!


New York Cheesecake
yield: 1 cake. 16 slices is about right for portions.

Ingredients:
Graham Cracker Crust:5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter for greasing the pan
8 whole graham crackers (4 ounces), broken into rough pieces and processed in a food processor to fine, even crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
Cream Cheese Filling:2 1/2 pounds (five 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, at room temperature--important because you don't want a chunky batter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

Method:

  1. To make the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Brush the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl; add 5 tablespoons of the melted butter and toss with a fork or your fingers until evenly moistened. Empty the crumbs into the springform pan and press evenly into the pan bottom (the bottom of a glass works well to press down, and a the back of a spoon pushes down the corners nicely). Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while making the filling.
  2. To make the filling: Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium- low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute (you don't want to incorporate air, just mash down any potential lumps). Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla, and beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions.
  3. Scraping the bowl is important. It makes the filling smooth. Starting with room temp ingredients will also help.
  4. Brush the sides of the springform pan with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter. Set the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any spills if the pan leaks). Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake 10 minutes. Then, without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees on an instant- read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1 1/2 hours (check at 1h15). Transfer the cake to a wire rack, run a paring knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, and cool until barely warm, 2½ to 3 hours. Unmold from pan, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. (The cheesecake can be refrigerated up to 4 days.)
  5. To serve, dip a long, thin knife in hot water, then wipe off the water with a paper towel. The hot knife melting the cake will create clean slices.
  6. Bon App├ętit!
Recipe from Baking Illustrated

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