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Friday, February 27, 2009

Foodie Friday - Cheese-crack.. er.. I mean cake

Old habits die hard. Have you noticed that? Especially when they are habits that we picked up from our family of origin.

One thing that my family is very good at is just not letting go of it when someone messes up. They hold it over your head for-ev-ver. For instance, even at my grandmother's funeral in 2007 we were still talking about the time 15 years ago that she tried to pass off frozen rolls as her own homemade ones at a family dinner. We just can't let anything go.

Not long after starting to take the Cook's Illustrated magazine 8 years ago, I came across a cheesecake recipe. I had never made cheesecake before, but this article and recipe seemed to demystify it a little for me. I made it at home a time or two with great success, so I decided to try to make it for a family gathering at my sister's house. I'm not sure why I didn't cook it at home, but I didn't. I cooked it there. And the result was a cheese-CRACK... at least according to my dad.

I'm not talking about some little bitty crack. No. I'm talking about a crack roughly the size of the Grand Canyon in the middle of my cheesecake. I think my sister's oven cooked a little hotter than mine at home or something because it was awful. I was mortified. It tasted fine, but looked terrible. And to this day, whenever I say that I am going to bring a cheesecake to a family gathering, my dad says, "Oh, a cheese-crack? Great!"

Over these years I have had many more successes and have come to find that cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts to make. Of course, I don't know that there is a dessert that I particularly dislike making other than maybe German Chocolate Cake - it has that whole nut issue. However, I've had some failures as well... like the time I tried to test a cheesecake's doneness by bouncing my finger on the top of it like a friend suggested that she does. The result? Cheese-CRACK.

I found out at some point along this journey that my mother in law was quite the cheesecake baker "back in the day" when she didn't have diabetes and still cooked quite a bit. In particular I have always heard about her Key Lime Cheesecake.

Now, since finding this New York style cheesecake recipe in Cook's Illustrated, I've been a bit of a purist when it comes to cheesecake. I'm not a Baskin Robins 51 flavors of cheesecake kind of gal. Except when it comes to the Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. Oh my... now that is heaven on a plate.

However, recently my mother in law handed over the official cheesecake reigns for their family. She, reluctantly it seemed, gave me this...

It is her old cheesecake cookbook. And inside written on a note card was none other but her own Key Lime Cheesecake recipe. I was surprised and honored.

I have also recently been working on making my own chocolate cheesecake. The ones I have made so far have been "not bad" but they still need more chocolate. I want it to taste more like the Cheesecake Factory version and I'm just not there yet.

So without further ado, it is with much trepidation that I have posted The Best New York Cheesecake over on my recipe blog. I fear that once I have empowered all of you with this recipe that you won't want me to bake it for you any more. And that would make me sad. So please, please, keep a baker happy and continue to let me make cheesecake for you.

The recipe was too long to completely duplicate here today like I normally would, so just pop on over there for a look. There is even video today. But here's a sneak peek of what it looks like when finished:

It is a divine confection of 2 1/2 pounds of cream cheese!

I took one to my office recently to share and a friend there said that it looked so perfect that he thought I may have just bought it at Costco. I was greatly offended. Because believe me... it tastes SO much better than anything you would buy at Costco. But now, in the spirit of my dad and our family, every time he walks past my little alcove in the office across from the kitchen, he just says, "Costco." *sigh and shaking head*

So, what about you? Do you have a favorite flavor of cheesecake? Or are you a purist like me? Or maybe you have a favorite cheesecake recipe or tip you'd like to share. The floor is yours.


Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Yum! Glad I checked it out at your recipe blog - great tip on removing even when the middle is still a little jiggly. I have been guilty of that one and had cracks!

That key lime cheesecake sounds really yummy to me!

Claus said...

Anything's fine with me as long as it doesn't have raisins in it. Raisins? Woe, what wicked wonders will we wallop in?

Kay said...

I made a chocolate one once and it was deee-lish! ('course I can't eat milk now so cheesecake is of no use to me anymore..BIG bummer!)

Tiffany @ NOH said...

I love making cheesecake. I have a recipe on my blog that I love making with an Oreo cookie crust. I've never tried any flavored ones but I think I'm going to have to.

I've also suffered from Cheese CRACK - I just consider it my cutting guide :) Last time I did manage to keep the oven shut when it was done, though, and it turned out perfect. It was so pretty...and SO good. lol

Anonymous said...

I've only made cheesecake once - long, long ago. But you have inspired me as it's my daughter's favorite. The only thing better to her would be the chocolate version. :)

At the risk of never being allowed to post on your blog again, i must admit that cheesecake would be my second choice...a CLOSE second...behind...dare I say it...german chocolate cake.

p.s. Claus - I'm with you. No raisins in anything.

Cristel said...

Um....ok I've known you how long and the ONLY cheesecake I've EVER had of yours was last month? This seems an abomination. Consider that I love to EAT cheesecake as much as you love to MAKE cheesecake....well, you see the obvious connection don't you? Why have I not had more Donna cheesecake?? Seriously! I'm a little hurt. What's that? You want me to feel better? Oh...I know just he thing that would make me feel entire cheesecake - plain, NY Style, no icing, no gooey fruit stuff, - just cheesecake. Maybe you could convince me to pour a little chocolate sauce on it...or caramel...I already feel better talking about it. Imagine how much better I'd feel if I could actually EAT it!?!? Did I mention I have a cold at the present time? Sure could use something to soothe my sore throat...what could that be?

...ditto on the raisins...they don't belong IN other food. ever.

Courtney said...

sounds like your cheese cakes are a kind of crack drug if Cristel is anything to go by *waggles eyebrows* .... wonders off to the food blog to watch video of cheesecake

Bridget said...

Yours looks great! I think I like them all! :)