Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cheesecake



I love cheesecake. Truthfully, I don't think I've ever met a cake I didn't like. Cake is good. Let's talk about cake...

Cake, like beer or wine, is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy (thanks Ben). Cake makes people happy. You go to a funeral, what is everybody doing afterward? They're eating cake, that's right, it makes you feel better. Cake is there at your birthday, cake is there at your wedding, cake is there for you, man. Let's give it up for cake, m'kay?

And yes, Valentine's Day. Whatever you think of the holiday, good or bad, there is something we can all get out of it. If it happens to be cake, well then, we did OK! You can skip the fancy dinner reservation (too crowded) and the long-stem roses (I like Gerber Daisies better anyway) and just concentrate your efforts on what really matters. Let us all eat cake, and smile, and bask in the love of those with whom we eat said cake, whomever they are.

CAKE!!!

And a note on the particulars, let's be clear and set a precedent in this here blog...this is not an original recipe. Sometimes they will be, like the Minestrone, but sometimes not. This recipe is off the back of the Philly cream cheese package, ta-da! Baking is not like soup-making, baking is chemistry. It's exact. When you find a good recipe for cake or pastry or pie, don't feel like you have to change it, I don't anyway. Sometimes it's perfect just the way it is. I think the best way to make this kind of recipe your own is in the topping. So that's where I've focused my creative energy for this entry.

As I mentioned in the Minestrone post I spent some time working in restaurants before my office life. One of these restaurants had a way of serving cheesecake I'd never seen before and I've always wanted to try it. They would drizzle a shot of raspberry liqueur over the top right before serving, table-side. I'm telling you, the people ate this up! As I was thinking about cheesecake this memory came to me and I thought how delicious that would be and how much you all might like it, so that's our inspiration for today.

A Little Diversion...

My search for this liqueur turned out to be almost as much fun as making this recipe. It took me a while to remember what the hell it was called! See, I'm a whisky girl, so liqueur or dessert wine wasn't really my thing, UNTIL NOW! After wracking my brain I remembered that it was called Chambord. As I was out shopping for the ingredients for this cheesecake I found myself in the wine department of our local grocery store...

And so, we have these really ANNOYING liquor laws in Washington state and you can't by liquor in the grocery store, only beer and wine. After growing up in the Midwest with giant grocery store aisles full of booze this still chaps my ass after 13 years of living here (Seattle, I love you intensely, but this is lame). Anyway, I ended up asking the Wine Guy if they happened to sell Chambord because I had worked all day and didn't really want to make a separate trip to the liquor store. Call me lazy, whatever, but until you have experienced Seattle rush hour traffic you can just shut it. ;)

They didn't sell Chambord (which is wonderful, try it sometime), but I ended up having the most wonderful conversation with the Wine Guy. I told him what I was looking for and how I was going to use it, and I'm telling you his eyes lit UP and he proceeded to regale me for the next 10 minutes with stories of how perfect Pacific Rim Framboise would be for my purpose. He was persuasive.

Wine Guy said I would open the bottle and be hit upside the head by the intoxicating raspberry aroma. He was right. We have had to exercise some serious self control to not drink this stuff up before the cheesecake was dressed. He also shared a few other gems such as: put a tablespoon in the bottom of your champagne glass before adding the bubbly, or take your martini glass and dip it in the wine before pressing in sugar to coat the rim for a beautiful and tasty cocktail. I think it was one of the most enjoyable customer service experiences I have ever had and I can't thank that Wine Guy enough.

And so, on to the cake.

Ingredients

Crust:
1 c graham cracker crumbs (put crackers in plastic bag and run over them with a rolling pin for less than a minute until you have a good crumb. Your crust will have a better texture by taking this step than if you use pre-made crumbs)
3 T sugar
3 T melted unsalted butter
1/2 t salt (updated after tasting, 1t salt was just a bit too much)

Filling:
5, 8 oz packages Philly cream cheese, softened
1 c sugar
3 T flour
1 T vanilla (use real vanilla, can use up to 2T if you want a stronger vanilla flavor)
3 eggs
1 c sour cream

Topping:
12 oz container fresh raspberries
2 c Raspberry Dessert Wine or Liqueur, I'm using Pacific Rim Framboise

Directions

Crust:
Mix crumbs, sugar, butter and salt together. Press into bottom of 9" spring form pan. Bake @ 350 degrees for 10 minutes.






Filling:
In stand mixer/Kitchen Aid mix softened cream cheese on low speed for a minute until it's getting smooth. Add sugar, flour and vanilla on medium speed until well blended.





Lift the mixing paddle and scrape sides and bottom of mixing bowl to release any lumps. Mix a bit longer until no lumps are present.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing on low after each addition.



Slowly blend in the sour cream. Scrape bottom of bowl again to ensure no lumps. Using a clean spatula scrape the filling into the par-baked crust.













Bain-marie: the key to a perfect cheesecake is the bain-marie, or water bath. With this method the cake pan is placed within a larger pan, and surrounded by warm water for the duration of the cooking process. The gentle heat of the water regulates the oven temperature and will result in a more evenly baked and visually pleasing cheesecake; hopefully without a big crack through the center. For this recipe using a spring form pan you will want to wrap the outside of the pan very thoroughly and carefully with aluminum foil so that no water creeps into your cake through the seam. If you were using a regular pie plate or cake pan you could simply set it in the warm water bath. The water should come 1/2 to 3/4 up the side of your cake pan.



Bake at 350 degrees in bain-marie for approximately 65-70 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Cake will be lightly brown, a bit firm when jiggled, the top will be slightly puffed up, and the sides will just begin to pull away from the edges of the pan.





5 minutes after removing cake from oven, carefully run a knife around the inside rim of the pan to loosen the cake.



Cool for at least 30 minutes before trying to remove from pan. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before serving. (Note: I refrigerated mine overnight in the pan and then ran a knife under hot water, ran the knife around the inside of the pan, and removed the ring approximately 24 hours later.)

Removing a cake from a spring form pan: set cake in its pan on top of a coffee mug or inverted bowl, the object here is to lift it up from the counter. Release the spring on the pan and let the ring fall to the counter top, helping to loosen the cake with a knife as needed.




Lift the cake on it's base and place on your serving dish, or slice and plate.


Topping:
Add the 2 c Framboise to a small pan. Cook on medium-high until reduced to 1/2 c. (I've doubled the quantity that I made for the 2 of us at home so that you would have enough glaze/berries for an entire cake...)






Drizzle Framboise on a plate, place a slice of cheesecake on top. Drop fresh raspberries around the plate. Drizzle a bit more Framboise over top of cake and berries. Note: you could just as easily pour the Framboise straight on top of the cake, but I was going for a slightly thicker consistency. It's entirely up to you. Frankly, this dessert wine is so good that you could just drink it on the side and serve the cake with berries alone.


Author not responsible for fits of ecstasy which will ensue post-taste. Make this for someone you love.

Happy Valentine's Day
xoxo

11 comments:

  1. Let us eat cake!!! Cheesecake, wacky cake, pineapple upside-down cake, chocolate shack cake, fruitcake(yuck),but dammit there better be cake!!!

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  2. I knew you'd like this one Mom. ;)

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  3. Honest to God, one of the best things I've ever tasted. The framboise reduction is genius. And I made it myself! Carry on, Julia :-)

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  4. OMG I cannot believe you made the Minestrone and the Cheesecake in the same weekend!!! You rock Davina! =) I owe you a cocktail or lunch or something!! Btw, did you find the crust too salty? I'm considering reducing the 1t to 1/2t...I didn't remember it being salty the last time I made this and I noticed it a little bit this time. What did you think?

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  5. My co-workers are *RAVING* about this cheesecake! Yes, I did find the crust to be a bit too salty - thank goodness I followed the recipe and used unsalted butter :-)

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  6. Thanks Davina, I've updated the recipe to 1/2 t down from 1t. I remember it having a nice salty contrast the last time I made it, but this time it was a bit too much. Thanks for the feedback. I'm so glad your co-workers are enjoying it!!

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  7. I generally prefer pie, but I have to admit that you make a darn tasty cheesecake. I'll make a note of the Framboise-for-Chambord substitution, next time I need raspberry liquor. Damn, WA and our archaic liquor laws!

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  8. Oh my goodness, I actually got to taste this cheesecake (thanks Kelly for bringing it in I feel so special) and it was YUMMMMMMMMYYY!!!!

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  9. @Jeliz, thanks hon.

    @Constance, what's your favorite pie?

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  10. Well a bit humbled, Thank you for your comments on my service. Let me be your "wine guy" anytime! The Wine guy @ the Q

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  11. @Wine Guy, I'm going to take you up on that. By the way, the Cotes du Rhone was excellent. =)

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