Monday, November 8, 2010

The Very Best Creamy* Cheesecake


I'd been thinking of making a cheesecake for a few weeks (having tired of apple and plum desserts) and by happy coincidence, I was requested to bring a dessert that was "creamy and not too sweet" to an event recently in Westchester.


The occasion was a lunch party (so much more decadent than a dinner party) hosted by Betty, a former colleague of DH's who is now a journalism professor (and blogger) in addition to being a fabulous cook. (You can read her blog about the lunch here.)   Betty was raised in Manhattan's Chinatown and, while her mother didn't cook, she taught herself Chinese cooking from a couple of cookbooks, below.



There was no better way to spend a Saturday than sitting in Betty's sunny kitchen (the center of her ultra charming cottage-like house), drinking wine and watching her prepare a delicious Chinese feast which we ate with abandon.  It was a wonder any of us had room for dessert.

I kept the cheesecake in the springform pan until we completed our journey to Westchester.

The cheesecake I made is from my own collection, a hand-written gem given to me by my friend Barbara, a former neighbor who now lives in the Virgin Islands.  She got it from a diner where she worked in high school, but the recipe is much older, probably from the 1950s.

This is a very creamy cheesecake made with cream cheese and the best thing about it is that is has a "frosting" made of sour cream which not only adds another flavor and texture note, but also eliminates the unsightly cracks that plague so many cheesecakes.  I considered putting some raspberries on top, but it is so good, I decided it didn't need any embellishment.  This cheesecake requires planning; it is supposed to be refrigerated overnight before serving.


*There are many other kinds of cheesecake.  Our dear friend Mary, also a guest at the lunch, recently made an Italian-style cheesecake for a colleague's birthday and she said that it was so different than mine (in texture, taste, etc.) that it's hard to believe that both desserts are called cheesecake.  The recipe she used, the Sicilian Ricotta Cheesecake from Allrecipes.com, is pasted at the bottom of the post.  She made it with fresh (not commercial) ricotta said it was delicious.  It's a lovely one-bowl recipe that can be put together quickly. I plan to try it the next time I buy fresh ricotta.

Barbara's recipe (the one I used) is below.  I followed it exactly except for the pan:  Do not use a pie pan; use a 9 inch springform pan.  You'll be happy you did.




Sicilian Ricotta Cheesecake


Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Set rack in the middle of the oven. Butter and flour a 9 1/2 inch springform pan, and tap out excess flour.
  2. Place the ricotta in a large mixing bowl, and stir it as smooth as possible with a rubber spatula. Stir the sugar and flour together thoroughly into the ricotta. Stir in the eggs 1 at a time. Blend in the vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, until a light golden color. Make sure the center is fairly firm, and the point of a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. It will sink slightly as it cools. Cover, and chill till serving time.

7 comments:

  1. What makes a cheesecake "New York Style" besides naming it that?

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  2. This is almost identical to my favorite cheescake, Three Cities of Spain Cheescake from Epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Three-Cities-of-Spain-Cheesecake-102595
    It seems to call for more cream cheese and an extra egg which results in a higher cake. I LOVE the sour cream topping.

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  3. I LOVE this old cheese cake recipe. This is the exact recipe my mother made (and still makes) while I was growing up. As an adult I've made many different cheese cakes using various recipes but I'll always love this one the best. I also tried adding cherries or berries on top because I thought it was more sophisticated but I realized that the cheese cake tastes better plain. The sour cream topping is one of the best parts and I love it so much that I often put more on top. I encourage everyone to try this - sure it's not like NY cheese cake but whatever you want to call it, it's GREAT!!!

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  4. @Margaret: Not really sure, but I think having cream cheese as the main ingredient makes it "New York Style."
    @Peggy: That recipe sounds great!
    @Anonymous: I'm glad you agree that the "less is more" approach is better! This cheesecake is so good that any embellishment just detracts from its deliciousness. Thanks for your comment!

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  5. after endlessly drooling over your blog posts, it was A THRILL to finally taste one of your cakes. susan, this cheesecake of yours is divine -- and i don't normally have a thing for cheesecake! thanks again for visiting for including me in this item about your latest baked confection. xoxox

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  6. Made this today for a family dinner. So quick and easy and DELICIOUS!!!! I think I need to get another piece before bed. It reminds me of the cheesecakes of my childhood. Thanks.

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  7. I made the cream cheese cake last Sunday and it was wonderful, the sour cream topping is a nice compliment to the light and creamy filling and the crust added a bit of crunch. And it came out perfect. Next time, for something different, I will subtitute the sour cream topping for either a blueberry or cherry topping but its great as is!

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