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.
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.
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.
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.