Saturday, April 25, 2015

New York-Style Cheesecake with a Fresh Strawberry Topping

I've been rather scarce, this month, and I've missed not being able find time to edit and upload recipes that are backlogged on my computer.  Part of my absence was adjusting to being an empty nester.  I feel into a temporary sense of grieving.  On March 1st, my son packed up his car with his few personal belongings, and drove away, headed from California to Texas. (He was given an offer he couldn't refuse-- to apprentice as an electrician.) He's my one and only child (er, grown son) and it has taken me a few weeks to wrap my head around his being so far away, and that he really is on his own.  It's bittersweet, but I'm truly happy for him.

He was also one of my best (and most honest) food critics, who would often bring along his best friend to join us at the dinner table. The night before my son drove off to his new chapter in his life, I asked him what he would like for his last supper. For dinner, he requested "Osso Bucco", which I made for him. For dessert, he asked for his #1 favorite dessert-- cheesecake.

I've posted a German Cheesecake made with Quark (and it's still one of my faves) in 2011.  The most recent time I made cheesecake, it was in my pressure cooker. It only took 15 minutes, and turned out to be creamy and delicious.   But, because this would be my son's last supper in his childhood home, I decided to bake a cheesecake in a more traditional way.

Because I'm such a huge fan of Cook's Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country (all one in the same companies), I researched what cheesecake recipes they had developed.  I've made cheesecakes in a water bath, which is hailed to be a way to avoid cracks on the cheesecake top.  This recipe doesn't use a water bath.  I trust ATK, however, so I rolled up my sleeves and got busy:

The crust is a traditional graham cracker crust, which is has three basic ingredients--
 ...crushed graham crackers, sugar and melted butter.

The crust is pre-baked for about 13 minutes, and set on a wire rack to cool. The oven is now preheating to 500 degrees. Yes, that's right! 500 degrees.

Hold your gasp-- this recipe uses 2-1/2 pounds of cream cheese. That would be FIVE 8-ounce packages of cream cheese. Let's up the ante by adding six whole eggs, plus 2 egg yolks, shall we?  This is dessert, after all.

Once the cream cheese is blended with sugar, we add sour cream, fresh lemon juice and some pure vanilla.

So, here we go... let's fill 'er up .

That's a lot of cheesecake filling!  I placed the spring form pan a baking sheet, just in case there were any spillovers.  After then minutes, I reduced the oven temperature to 200F, without opening the door.

The cheesecake should bake for about 1-1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.  Look at how pretty that cheesecake rose!

I was really pleased at the beautiful brown on the cheesecake, and there were no cracks! Yay!

So, now, the wait begins. The cake needs to cool, on a wire rack, for about 2-1/2 to 3 hours. No cheating! Then, the cheesecake is covered with plastic wrap and chilled for at least 2 more hours (or up to 4 days).

To remove the cheesecake, I released the spring form pan and loosed it up by running a metal spatula all around.

My son prefers a cherry pie filling on top, but this time I suggested a fresh strawberry topping.  He was all for it.  (This optional topping also comes from America's Test Kitchen.)

Notes from America's Test Kitchen:
The flavor and texture of the cheesecake is best if the cake is allowed to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. When cutting the cake, have a pitcher of hot tap water nearby; dipping the blade of the knife into the water and wiping it clean with a kitchen towel after each cut helps make neat slices.

TASTING NOTES:  I placed the first slice in front of my son. As I gazed at my son's facial expression, he closed his eyes and he smiled.  Yes, "this was the best cheesecake he's ever eaten", he declared.  Of course, he might be just a tad bit biased, but I'll take that as a sincere compliment.  I have to agree.

The flavor of the cheesecake was creamy and had the perfect balance of tang (from the lemon juice and sour cream) and just the right notes of vanilla.  My husband, who thinks that cheesecake is "just okay" went back for more.  I sent half of the cheesecake home with my son's best friend.  In the morning, I knew my son would be driving off-- into the sunrise.  The last thing I need is to be left alone with that much cheesecake.

 Honestly, I didn't think this was a complicated recipe to make, but it's got a hefty price tag when you have to buy five packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (my favorite brand).  But, when this is for the son you love and adore, it's totally worth it.

As a side note, I have adjusted to my son's new chapter in his life. He sounds very upbeat, and is loving learning his new trade.  Craig and I have already purchased our airline tickets to fly to Central Texas to spend a week exploring his new state.  Seven weeks to go!

A printable recipe is at the end of this post.

Pin It


Sue/the view from great island said...

I don't think I've ever seen a finer looking cheesecake, that thing rose so high! As for your son leaving, I feel for you, my daughters left and now one is back in town, so there's hope yet :)

June Burns said...

Mmm that sounds amazing!! Nothing like classic cheesecake. Love the strawberry topping :)

Barbara Bakes said...

I couldn't resist going back for seconds of this luscious cheesecake either!

Susan Sevig said...

Looks like a winning recipe. Glad you are going to visit to your son. After you see how happy he is, how he is living, you can relax more and learn to adjust to him not being in your home anymore.

Tricia Buice said...

New York style is my favorite cheesecake! Good for you - make those taste testers happy and they'll keep coming back for more. Lovely!

Tricia Buice said...

New York style is my favorite cheesecake! Good for you - make those taste testers happy and they'll keep coming back for more. Lovely!

Gloria said...

Oh, Debby! Congrats to your son on his new job! And I sure do know how you will MISS HIM! I think your son and mine are the same age (in their early 20's) and, although we WANT them to make their own way, and we are HAPPY when they do, we are sad to have our best buddies leave... (My son is still living at home, but I know that SOON he is going to venture out!) So kudos to you for raising a great son and one who was a great reviewer of your food! ;) BUT, trust me, he WILL be back. He will miss his Mama's food! LOL! And, have a great trip with your hubby to see your boy. Just remember: When you get there, you must COOK UP A STORM and freeze all of this fav meals for him to keep in his freezer. ;) Again, congrats to your boy on his new job.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I need a party (or my Italian chit-chat group) as an excuse to make that decadently delicious cheesecake. I can tell it would be addictive, but one of the best cheesecakes ever. I hope you find the adjustment to empty nesting easy and best wishes to your son in his new job.

Joanne said...

Of COURSE leave it to ATK to give you the best cheesecake ever! I'm sure you made your son's night with this.

bellini said...

My daughter went off to university and she just never came back. I am pretty sure that is when I started blogging Debby to fill my empty nest and rejuvenate my soul.

Gloria said...

Debby: Happened to see the previous person's comment... Well, I do NOT think that your son will never come back! From all of your posts that I've seen over time, you were a great Mom and he will NOT just come back for the Food! LOL! Your boy will come back for your love and your food, and I know you've done this blog for LOVE OF FOOD, and NOT just to fill your empty nest. You've given a lot of great stuff here. No disrespect to the previous commenter, but I DO know your son will return, no matter where he is... xxoo

Debby Foodiewife said...

Gloria, I know Val who left that comment and she is a very sweet person. I knew what she was saying, and I didn't take offense at all. Thanks for your support, Gloria. I want my son to live wherever he is happiest. He will always come to visit his mom. I know that. I pray that he will meet a good woman, fall in-love and marry. We bring our kids into this world, but we don't owe them. :)

Gloria said...

Hmmm, saw your comment, Debby. Shows that I should have kept my mouth shut.

Debby Foodiewife said...

No worries, Gloria. I thought your words were very sweet. It's all good.