Last weekend I flew to Los Angeles to visit my girlfriend and her two daughters. While my girlfriend is not that crazy about sweets, there is one dessert she likes – cheesecake. Since we would be staying in a hotel, I thought I’d surprise her by making the same cheesecake I always make for her when a kitchen’s available – Tall & Creamy Cheesecake by Dorie Greenspan. In fact, I’ve blogged about this cheesecake before.
Instead of making the cheesecake in my springform pan, I halved the recipe and baked it in a square pan to make cheesecake bars (I didn’t get to make pictures of them because I made them late at night). In order to keep the cheesecake cold, I placed the bars in wax paper, foil, small ziploc bags, and then they were all placed in one big ziploc bag. I then put in a bunch of ice in the big bag and stuffed it in my backpack. After teaching my two classes, I went directly to the airport. I didn’t change out the ice until my layover in Dallas. The guy who filled the bag asked me what I was packing, and I laughingly told him that it was cheesecake, and he raised his eyebrows and smiled.
When I arrived at the hotel, I put more ice in the bag and continued to hide the cheesecake in my backpack. I didn’t want her to know that I had brought it until the kids were gone later that night. When I showed the cheesecake to her, she was pleasantly surprised. I then proceeded to feed her as she comfortably watched television. As usual, she enjoyed the cheesecake very much (as well as other family members who got a taste of the other bars later). After she ate one bar, I tried one. It was so good! It was better than usual. As soon as that taste was planted in my mouth, I thought to myself, “I’m so going to make this cheesecake when I get home.”
As soon as I got back home and stepped into my apartment, I took out the eggs so that they could come to room temperature. I unpacked, rested a bit, and then made the cheesecake. I didn’t get to eat any of it until the next day. While it was very good, it didn’t taste as good as the one I took to LA. Maybe because it wasn’t my own cheesecake haha.
Anyway, this is by far my favorite cheesecake recipe. The texture of the cheesecake is perfect, creamy, and heavenly. Putting it all together is super easy. I almost always half the recipe, but I make the full recipe for the crust, and it’s always more than enough. The only difficult part is waiting for it to cool and refrigerate.
I love the graham cracker crust, so I made sure to make enough to allow them rise up on the sides in the springform pan. I also used my homemade strawberry jam as a topping and made some whipped cream with the leftover cream. It was perfect. If you have never tried this recipe, try it out very soon.
Tall and Creamy Cheesecake
recipe copied and adapted from Smells Like Home.
- 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
- Butter a 9″ springform pan – choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4″ high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter left over) – and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil.
- Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. ( I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach slightly above or below the midway point on the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)
- Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake..
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- 2 lbs (four 8oz boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
- Put a kettle of water on or a very large pot on to boil.
- Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at a medium speed until soft and creamy; about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat for another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition – you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
- Put the foil-wrapped springform pan into a roasting pan that is large enough to hold the pan with some space around it.
- Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula , just to make sure that there is nothing left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the rim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower side and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or a small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into it to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
- Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top should be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
- After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster – be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack (about 1 hour).
- When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours; overnight is better.
- At serving time, remove the sides of the springform pan (Greenspan suggests using a hairdryer to do this) and set the cake on a serving platter or leave it on the pan.
adapted from Allrecipes
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled
- 4 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2-1 peeled and sliced Granny Smith apple (for natural pectin)
In a wide bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berries. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, apple slices, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Process any unsealed jars in a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don’t bother with processing, and just refrigerate (or freeze).
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat heavy cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat, or you’ll end up with sweet butter and buttermilk.