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updated: Dec 18, 2010, 8:30 AM
By Leah Etling
We've still got to get through Christmas before New Year's rolls around, but I'm already thinking about how to celebrate 2011. The two C's - champagne and cheesecake - are sounding pretty delicious right now.
Last weekend I made a congratulatory cheesecake for a friend who'd just accepted an exciting new job. This turned out to be the biggest cheesecake I've ever made - it must have weighed about five pounds. When you see the ingredient list you'll see why. There's a lot of cream cheese in this cheesecake. In fact, you could cut this recipe in half and serve a half-dozen people easily.
I ended up taking the leftovers down to Roger Dodger on Milpas Street and he doled them out to friends and neighbors. Everyone got to share in the cheesy goodness and it didn't all go to my waistline, thank goodness. Got to save a little room there for Grandma's Christmas fudge and Danish rice pudding.
So here's a cheesecake mystery. How do you keep those cracks from appearing in the top? My understanding is that temperature variation is to blame for the cracking. I've heard some interesting theories like baking it in a water bath. A seemingly easier suggestion was to leave the cake in the oven after turning the baking time is over. I did this, but it didn't work. When I checked on it one hour after baking time had ended, the cracks were already there.
I ended up filling them with decorative raspberries - problem solved.
Here's the recipe for "perfect" New York cheesecake from allrecipes.com. (I'd call it "basic," rather than perfect. But it's good, and it's even better if you let it sit for 48 hours in the fridge before eating.
Crust: 15 graham crackers, crushed, mixed with 2 tablespoons butter, melted
-4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
-1 1/2 cups white sugar
-3/4 cup milk
-1 cup sour cream
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press with a fork or your fingers onto bottom of spring form pan.
In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours (in theory, prevents cracking).
Accessorize as desired. Chill in refrigerator until serving, the longer the better.
Got a great cheesecake variation recipe? Share it in the comments section.
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