For the holiday of love I made my loved ones a showstopper dessert! Cheesecake is not the best choice if you don’t truly enjoy baking, it takes a long time, lots of ingredients and a fair amount of steps, but there’s nothing super tricky about it and in the end, you get such a special treat! It’s an excellent dessert for a special occasion. Before you start, load up on cream cheese and the crumb crust ingredients of your choice, and remember, you probably won’t eat this the day you make it because of the long bake and the even longer cool time. I used a blueberry sauce to mix into this cake, its a sauce we make regularly for pancakes, crepes, and waffles, but it works great for this dessert as well! I highly recommend you double the quantities below and use the sauce for all your sweet fruit sauce needs. This is my own creation from combining some Carolines kitchen classics. Enjoy and Happy Valentines Day!
Chocolate Crust: 8-9 Chocolate Graham Cracker sheets (5-6 oz) 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt 2 Tablespoons sugar
Filling: 2 pounds (four 8 ounce bars) cream cheese at room temperature 1 1/2 Cups plus 1 Tablespoon sugar pinch of salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 4 large eggs
Blueberry Sauce: 6 oz of frozen or fresh blueberries 2 1/2 Tablespoons sugar 1-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice strained 1 cinnamon stick 2 teaspoons water 1 teaspoon cornstarch 1 Tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 350 – Line the bottom of your springform pan with a parchment round (if you don’t have one, it will be okay, but it does help your crust to come with you when you take it off the pan)
To make the blueberry sauce (double if you want to use it for other things, which you probably do) Combine blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a stainless steal pot. Cook over medium heat until the berries release their juices. Stir the water and cornstarch into a smooth paste and briskly stir it into the berry sauce then cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Mix in the butter and let cool. Strain to use on cheesecake as you will only need 2-3 Tablespoons.
To make the crust grind your graham cracker crumbs to a fine consistency. Stir crumbs with the melted butter, sugar and salt. Press mixture into your springform pan, pushing up a bit on the sides, try to get it into an even layer. Bake until set, about 10 minutes, then let it cool completely and turn the oven down to 325.
To make the filling – be sure your oven is down to 325. Wrap your springform with a double layer of foil. Put a large pot of water to boil.
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
Reduce to low and add sugar in a slow steady stream.
Add the salt and vanilla and beat until well combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each until just combined, don’t overmix.
Pour cream cheese filling over the crust.
Drop your strained blueberry sauce in circles around the top of your cheesecake, you’ll only need 2-3 Tablespoons – then use a toothpick or an offset spatula to swirl it into the top layer.
Set foil lined Springform pan inside a large shallow roasting pan. Carefully pour boiling water into roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of your springform pan. Bake until cake is set, but still slightly wobbly in the center, about 75 minutes. At this point, I cracked the oven turned off for about 15 minutes before removing the cake carefully and unwrapping from the foil to cool on a rack for a good 2 hours then refrigerate uncovered a good 24 hours. It might help to run a knife around the edge before unmolding from your pan.
Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking Hot Blueberry Sauce pg. 845 and Martha Stewart’s Cakes – Lemon Swirl Cheesecake page 172
I’m such a cheesecake kid, but I get upset when cheesecake is done wrong which I think is WAY too common. When cheesecake is just sweet mush with no tartness at all, or way too dry, or lacking flavor in general, it gives me the sads. This amazing Sour Cream Cheesecake is none of those things, it has an incredible texture, soooooo creamy, I don’t know how it’s possible that it can be so creamy dreamy and still be totally set, but it is! Plus the flavor is perfection – sour notes from the cream cheese and sour cream but balanced perfectly with the sweetness from the sugar and heavy cream. And I’ve never met a recipe that bakes at only 250, so I was curious, but I put my trust in Alton Brown who is obviously a kitchen genius and the result was brilliant. I can’t wait to make it again, it really wasn’t a difficult recipe and people went crazy for it, I hope you enjoy as much as we did!
For the Crust:
33 graham cracker squares, crumbled
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus additional, for brushing the pan
1 tablespoon sugar
For the Cheesecake:
20 ounces cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Brush some of the melted butter around a 9 by 3-inch cake pan. Adhere parchment to the bottom and the sides. You can also use a springform pan that you line on the outside with foil so your water bath doesn’t leak into your cake.
In a small bowl, combine crumbled graham crackers, the remaining melted butter, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Press the mixture into the bottom of the parchment-lined pan pressing into an even layer on bottom and up on the sides as far as you can, mine reached a good 1/2 inch or so. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Cool.
In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat sour cream for 10 seconds. Add the cream cheese and sugar and mix on low for 30 seconds and then turn up to medium. Scrape the bowl.
In a separate container, combine vanilla, eggs, yolks, and heavy cream. With the mixer on medium, slowly pour the liquid mixture in. When half of it is incorporated, stop and scrape. Continue adding the mixture until the rest of the ingredients are incorporated. Once completely combined, pour into the cooled crust.
Lower oven temperature to 250 degrees F. Place cheesecake into a preheated water bath, in the oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and open the door for one minute. Close the door for one more hour. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place in the refrigerator for 6 hours to completely cool before serving.
When ready to serve, place the entire cake pan with foil around bottom if in a spring form into a hot water bath for about 15 seconds. Unmold onto a cake round or serving dish.
To slice, place your knife into a hot water bath and wipe dry each time you make a pass through the cake. Serve with fresh fruit – my favorite was raspberries, but the crowd preferred strawberries.Recipe adapted from Alton Brown Sour Cream Cheesecake
Today is Caroline King v1.0’s birthday – and as I often do, I baked her a cake that I know she would love, even though there are a thousand or so miles between us 😦 If you’re thinking we should ease up on the peanut butter chocolate desserts, you should make one and get back to me. This cheesecake is PBC perfection! The crust is so unique – it has loads of chopped chocolate in it, in addition to the chocolate wafers, and then you have the layers of chocolate and peanut butter plus that mouth watering sour of the cheesecake, mind BLOWN! Even if you just eat a sliver you’ll feel like it’s a LOT because this one is rich deluxe. HBD 1.0, I love you more than all the peanut butter chocolate desserts the world has to offer (and that’s quite a few!) -CK 2.0
9 ounces chocolate wafers – you can use the outsides of oreos if you can’t find the famous kind which I use most often because they are easier to find)
6 ounces bitter- or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or 1 cup chips
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still hot
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
13 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (optional)
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
4 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
To make the Chocolate Crust – If planning to use a water bath, double-wrap outside of a 9-inch springform with 3-inch high sides with aluminum foil (heavy-duty if you have it). If you aren’t doing a water bath, still wrap at least once as there is not in existence a springform pan that does not leak that I know of. In a food processor, blend cookies, chopped chocolate and brown sugar together until finely ground. Drizzle in melted butter and process until crumbs begin to stick together, scraping down the bowl if needed. Transfer crumbs to prepared pan. Wrap fingers with plastic wrap and press crumb mixture up sides to within 1/2 inch of top, then evenly over bottom of pan. It helps to use the bottom of a cup to even out the bottom layer of your crust. Chill crust until next step.
Make fudge layer: Bring cream to simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat; whisk in chocolate and peanut butter, if using, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour into bottom of chilled crust and spread in an even layer. Freeze until fudge layer is firm, about 30 minutes.
Make cheesecake layer: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar in large bowl until well-blended and fluffy. Beat in sour cream, then eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour over fudge layer that has set in the freezer.
To bake in a water bath: Place foil-wrapped springform pan in a roasting pan large enough to hold it. Fill roasting pan with enough hot water to come 1-inch up the sides of the springform and carefully transfer to middle oven rack.
To bake without a water bath: Place springform on middle baking rack.
Both methods, to bake: Bake cake until slightly firm to the touch and the top appears dry, about 75 to 90 minutes. Cheesecake done times can be very tricky – Deb from Smitten Kitchen recommends this visual guide: The center two inches should only move slightly when pan is gently shaken. Transfer cheesecake to rack in the fridge until fully cool, at least three hours.
Make ganache topping: Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering. Off the heat, whisk in chocolate. Pour on top of chilled cheesecake and spread to the edges. Return cheesecake to the fridge until the ganache sets, about 30 minutes.
To serve: Remove foil from outside cheesecake pan if you have not already. Gently cut around between edge of cheesecake crust and springform pan to make sure it isn’t sticking. Unhinge the sides. You can serve it on the springform base, or, if you’re feeling confident, slide a knife gently under the bottom crust to loosen it from the springform base and slide the cake onto a serving plate. Serve in very small wedges. Cake keeps for a week in the freezer and longer in the freezer.
Recipe (with hardly any changes because she’s a genius) from Smitten Kitchen, Feb 2014