Monday, December 31, 2012

The Wonderful World Of Cheesecake

Cheesecake, you wonderful heavenly gift that has put more inches on women than chocolate and ice cream combined. A must for any "Golden Girl" and my down right favorite dessert. New York Style, With Strawberries, chocolate, turtle, you name it. It doesn't matter. It is an addiction I don't ever plan on giving up.

Sad thing is with any addiction comes the down side and I am not talking inches on the waist. I am talking making them. They are a pain! I have pulled my hair out more times trying to get a cheesecake right than I have trying to keep a soufflé from falling in a house full of kids. I swear I have read every tip and trick out there and some work, some don't and a lot need repeating.

So here I am, repeating the tips and tricks I have learned and been taught over the years.  These are what work for me.

1. Have a good recipe. If you are just starting I honestly recommend the one from Philadelphia Cream Cheese.  It is a good start.

2. High quality ingredients. This is not something you want to skimp on.

3. Room temperature ingredients. Your cream cheese and eggs for sure.

4. Do NOT overbeat! Seriously, air is your enemy. I usually cube my cream cheese before it softens and then just blend it on low with the sugar until smooth with my mixer. After that I fold in the rest as each step calls for it.

5. Springform Pan, Baking Spray, Oven Bag. Repeat this with me - Springform Pan, Baking Spray, Oven Bag. Set this up before you even start mixing. Spray your springform pan down with baking spray, including the sides and then set it in an oven bag.  (Use parchment on the bottom to make sure it comes off easy from the pan, spray that as well!) Now you can press your crust into the pan.

6. Water Bath. Once you have the pan in the oven bag and the crust is pressed in, place it in a roasting pan and fill the pan up with water - 1 inch deep around the pan.  This helps keep the oven air moist and gives you a creamy finish to your cheesecake.

7. Do NOT overcook! Most cheesecakes will still be jiggly in the center when time is up. For my personal recipe I cook it 1 hour and no more.

8. Cool in stages. Once the timer for your cheesecake goes off do NOT open the oven. Just turn it off and walk away for 3 hours.  Pretend if you open the oven it'll blow up or something. Just leave it be. Once 3 hours pass, remove it from the oven, carefully pull it out of the water and remove the bag. Place it on a cooling rack now and let it cool fully. After this cover the springform pan with a paper towel, not touching the cake and then cling wrap and shove it in the fridge overnight. (The paper towel will catch condensation instead of letting it build up on your  masterpiece.)

9. Remove from springform pan the next day. Yeah I know, you want to tear into this thing right away but seriously waiting makes it better. Next morning, if it hasn't already pulled away from the sides, just loosen it with a knife before removing the sides of the pan.

10. Decorate, enjoy, show off, share or keep to yourself. ^_~

Now, cheesecakes can still fall or crack even under the best of times don't worry. It will still taste great. If appearances are everything for you and it cracks here is a tip to fix small ones. Once the cake cools slightly but not fully, between the removing oven and putting in fridge stages, cover with plastic wrap and rub the crack slightly. This can help. That or you can go with toppings at this point. Drizzles of chocolate or caramel, some strawberries, almonds, whip cream. ^_~ Oh yeah, just enjoy it.