Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Cheesecake!

I made a cheesecake! This is only the second time I've made a cheesecake from scratch. I LOVE IT. It's actually pretty darn easy and this recipe works! All you need is some time, the proper amount of time for prepping (not much time at all!), baking (an hour), cooling (another hour or two) and then an overnight rest in the fridge.

You know I love Fine Cooking magazine and I really love the recipe builder they provided for cheesecake. They give you the step by step to make a basic cheesecake, then the instructions needed to mix it up a bit and create new flavors. The magazine gave something like 18-20 different versions. I kept drooling over the Cannoli Cheesecake. I had to have it! So, I made it. It was a little less Cannoli Cheesecake and a little more Cheesecake with orange and chocolate chips. Regardless, it worked!

Cannoli Cheesecake

Cheesecake w/orange & chocolate chips

I placed a cheese of parchment on the bottom of my springform pan. IF I wanted to transfer the cake to a serving plate, this would be necessary to help move the cake without it breaking. It will also help with sticking, should that be a problem.

The crust. The Cannoli recipe called for a crust made with Vanilla Wafers. My vanilla wafers were stale. I managed to dig a few out that were a little crunchy, so I used those, graham crackers and some ginger snaps. What the heck, a little fun doesn't hurt anyone. Grind them up in the food processor, add some sugar and butter.

Make sure the pan is put together properly and add the crumbs into the pan and press into the bottom and sides. I used a flat bottom measuring cup to help make the bottom and sides smooth. Very helpful tip. Bake for about 12 minutes, then cool.

Mix up the filling. 3 blocks of cream cheese, 1 cup of ricotta cheese, sugar, vanilla, orange zest (I think I used too much, which made the orange flavor much more dominate than I intended), chocolate chips and eggs. Make sure all the ingredients are whipped up nice and smooth before adding the eggs. If the eggs get whipped too much, there will be too much rising in the oven and extra cracking on the top of the cake. That's not a bad thing; it's asethetics. And a little texture; too much air and the cake will feel airy, I prefer cheesecake that is dense and creamy. Bake for about an hour until jiggly.

Fresh out of the oven. I got some crackage, but not bad. Not like the last cheesecake I made. Allow the cheesecake to rest on the counter for about 2 hours, so it can cool completely. Make sure it won't be moved around and otherwise disstressed while resting. Once cool, cover and place in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Overnight is best.

When you are ready to serve, carefully unmold. Make sure the crust doesn't stick to the pan anywhere. To slice. Use a large chef's knife that has been run under warm water. Slice, whip the knife clean, dip in warm water or whip with a hot, wet cloth and continue. A clean knife will give you nice clean slices. This cake can serve 10-12 people.

I garnished the cheesecake with some orange segments. The orange and chocolate played really well together. And with the creamy cheese flavors as well. Another topping suggestion might be a chocolate ganache, but that will certainly give you a rich cake. I think this was just about perfect; the right texture, flavor, sweetness. One slice filled me up and didn't make me feel gross and nasty afterwards. I'm very happy!

Cannoli Cheesecake
From Fine Cooking, April/May 2010, No. 104
Cheesecake; Variations on a
Serves 10-12

Step 1:

If going with a non-Cannoli variation...

Choose Your Ingredients and read thru the recipe completely before starting.
CLICK here for ideas.

Step 2:

Make the Crust

8 oz (2 cups) cookie crumbs (I used a combo of graham, vanilla wafers and ginger snaps)
3 TB granulated sugar
3 1/2 oz (7 TB) unsalted butter, melted

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375F.

In a medium bowl, stir the cookie crumbs and sugar. Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan (to press, use your fingers or a flat-bottomed measuring cup). Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened (this will be more obvious with lighter crumbs, but even even the ginger and chocolate crumbs will darken a bit), 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 300F.

Step 3:

Make the Filling

3 8-oz packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup of ricotta cheese
2 TB all-purpose flour
Pinch of table salt
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 TB pure vanilla extract
1 TB orange zest
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
4 large eggs, at room temperature

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and ricotta, flour and salt on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle frequently, until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese has no lumps. Add the sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth. Add the vanilla, orange zest and chocolate chips, and beat until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. (Don’t overbeat once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much and crack as it cools.) Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top.

Step 4:

Bake the cake

Bake at 300F until the center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55-65 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges, and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

Step 5:


If you like, you can garnish the cheesecake with orange segments, powdered sugar or a chocolate ganache.


DancerInDC said...

Really rich and delicious! If anything might be changed we talked about making the crust just a bit thinner. But really it's all about the filling, so who cares?

Looking forward to more cheesecake experiments. (BLUEBERRY!)

Lisa W said...

This was my favorite flavor of the 20+ we tested while putting together the story. Thanks for such a great write up and fab photos!

ScottE. said...

Woo hoo!!!! Someone from my favorite cooking magazine commented on my little ol' blog! Sweet! Thanks Lisa. I loved the article and think the way the app works on the website it brilliant.