Cheesecake: A “Varietal” Dessert!

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We’re not talking about grapes for wine here! But it is a way to describe what OCAS’ Culinary Corner is offering in this classic recipe with ways to make it different every time!

Who doesn’t love that rich, creamy concoction that is relatively simple to prepare? If cut according to the diagram at the very end of the recipe(s), you can feed a crowd with one cake!

We’re excited to bring you a basic cheesecake recipe that’s absolutely scrumptious made just as is. But we’ve followed that by offering  a variety of add-ins, each in its own right giving the classic a new look, taste and texture every time!

Classic Cheesecake

Crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs*

1/3 cup sugar

8 Tbs. butter (one stick), melted

(*you will use different flavor crumbs for the other varieties of cheesecake)

Mix thoroughly and press in bottom of a 10″ cheesecake pan and two inches up. Using the back of a tablespoon usually helps. Wrap bottom of pan and slightly up the sides with heavy tinfoil, set cheesecake pan in a larger pan with sides.

Preheat oven to 450.

Basic Filling:

4  8 oz. packages of Cream Cheese, room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla

1 3/4 cups sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

2 cups light or heavy cream

Beat cream cheese, vanilla and sugar until fluffy (I like to do this in my food processor.) Add eggs one at a time, then pour cream in while mixing. Pour into the crust.

Pour enough hot water into the larger pan to slightly cover the bottom of the cheesecake pan. (I usually do this when it’s already placed in the oven to prevent burning myself.)

Bake at 450 for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 300 and continue baking for 1 hour 10 minutes or until cake, when gently shaken,  is only minimally “jiggly” when shaken. You can also stick a knife in the middle but I find that cheesecakes almost never produce a clean edge when taken out to indicate it’s done.

When removed from the oven, set cake and water bath on a rack and take a thin, sharp knife and carefully run it around the edge inside the cake pan. (This releases more steam and combined with baking in the water, prevents it from cracking open.) Let it set in the water til the water is cool enough to remove the pan, then cool on the rack for a couple of hours. 

This cheesecake is delicious just as is. It’s fun to serve it with some toppings on the side; two of my favorites are cherry pie filling and/or lemon curd.

Now comes the fun part! mixing it up, literally! Here’s a bunch of ways to change this cake “big” with just a “little” effort!

Marble Cheesecake: Reserve 3 cups of the basic filling and mix it with two squares of melted, unsweetened chocolate. Pour it in a swirling motion then drag a knife through the swirl to marbleize it.

Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake: Substitute gingersnaps for the crust crumbs and substitute 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree for 1 package of cream cheese. Pecan halves around the circumference adds a nice touch. For a little more zest, add 2 tsp. of ground ginger or 2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice.

Death by Chocolate Cheesecake: Use ground chocolate wafers instead of graham cracker crumbs and substitute 10 oz. of milk, semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled, for 8 oz. of cream cheese. Garnish with chocolate curls.

Italian Style Cheesecake: Crumbled vanilla wafer crust, 1 cup of ricotta instead of one cream cheese package, 1/2 cup of mini chococolate chips, garnish with confectioners sugar.

Irish Cream Cheesecake: Chocolate wafer crust, 3 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur and drizzle Caramel ice cream topping generously over the top.

Lemony Cheesecake:  Crust of crumbled vanilla wafers, 1 cup of ricotta instead of 8 oz. of cream cheese, 2 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest and top with lemon curd and a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake: Chocolate wafer crust, 1 cup of sour cream for 8 oz. of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of peanut butter. Chocolate sundae ice cream topping, thinned a little if necessary, generously drizzled.

Here’s the cheesecake cutting diagram that will afford the most slices, courtesy of Earlene’s Cakes (http://www.earlenescakes.com/cakeservinst.htm) Enjoy!

2 Responses to Cheesecake: A “Varietal” Dessert!

  1. joan says:

    i’d like piece 1-2 or 4-5 please

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