Yes ! This is the one you've all been waiting for and by "all" I mean all those people who have tasted my cheesecake and keep asking me to share the recipe with them. Well ! I've gone one step further and decided to share it with the World or tastyblog subscribers. So, yes there are some secrets to making this most wonderful of desserts, loved by so many with many boasting that there's are the best. I've actually been trying for the past seven years to perfect my own cheesecake recipe, but as I too want to be famous for making cheesecake, I'm not going to fall into the trap of not sharing some tips with you, as life is about sharing and what's the point of finding something so precious and keeping it locked up. So, here are some tricks:
(i) Everything starts with a good base or foundation and so make sure you get good biscuits. In the UK and some parts of Europe, we have digestive biscuits but in the USA, they have graham crackers. Use this mixed with butter and a bit of sugar to really get a good crispy base: My son doesn't mind cheesecake but he loves the base and is happy just to eat it. For my Italian cheesecake recipe, I use Catunicci biscuits. When you crush the biscuits or if you are lucky to have one, use a food processor, make sure it forms into a thick paste like this:
(ii) Always bake the base first – Why ? When you pour your "wet" cheesecake mixture on top of the biscuit base, you don't want it to soak into the base, but a baked and slight hard biscuit base will be easier to resist the wet mixture. I got this tip from Williams Sonoma's Baking. so, in summary bake the base for about 10 minutes on 180C. For a 20" springform, you will need 150g of biscuits with 80g of butter and one dessert spoon of caster sugar. For the larger 24", you will need 250g of biscuits (a standard pack) and 150g of unsalted butter, together with 2 dessert spoons of caster sugar.
(iii) Don't forget the science of mixing warm and cold stuff together. Here, I mean "cold" cream cheese with "warm" sugar. You should always take the eggs out so that they are at room temperature – say about 1 hour before in the summer and 2 hours before or so if in the winter. If you mix really cold stuff together with warm stuff it will create bubbles and sometimes we see this in cheesecake when it is baking, it puffs up in one corner and you think why ? This is the main reason. If you forget to take the eggs out on time, just make your mixture but leave it to sit out for about 30 minutes whilst you make and cool the base.
(iv) Finally, use a water bath. I know this sound like hard work and to be honest when I was experimenting on getting that perfect recipe, I omitted it for a few years until one day I tried it and the results where amazing both in taste and look and I've never looked back. The rationale -using a water bath makes the temperature even out during the baking process, makes the cheesecake more evenly cooked and gives it an almost melt in your mouth texture and finally your cheesecake won't look burnt on the top – it will look like the ones you see in cookbooks/ fancy cake shops with perfect yellow tops.
OK ! What next ? The recipes of course, of which there are many but as a standard I'm going to list what works for me.
For a 20" greased throughout springform (always use springform) pan, use
a combination of 600g of cream cheese (Krafts Philadelphia is the most famous), sour cream, creme fraiche, mascarpone, sifted ricotta, with stronger bias on the cheese. So for example, you can use 250g cream cheese, 250g mascarpone and 100g whipped cream or 100g creme fraiche, just make sure everything adds up to 600g.
150g of caster sugar
3 eggs (alternate 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 dessert spoons each of cornflour and plain/all purpose flour
Next the method.
Use the tips above about baking the base, water bath, etc.
The best way for the cheese mixture is to pulse everything in a food processor until it represents a thick yellowish liquid. If you do this by hand, start with mixing the dry stuff first, the sugar, flour, cornflour and then mix in the cream cheese and eggs at the end, making sure everything is well combined. Don't forget that before you bake the biscuit base, you should wrap 2 sheets of aluminum foil round the base of the baking tin in preparation for the water bath. After the biscuit base has cooled, pour your mixture on top
and then place the tin into a baking pan and the pour the boiling hot water around the edges.
Now place into a 170C oven and bake for about 30 minutes, after which start checking that the top is firm. You can check this by giving the pan (using oven gloves) a little nodge and if the top wobbles, then it isn't ready, but don't go far away because it could all be ready in 5 minutes. If the cheesecake rises, which might happen if you use more cream cheese than 500g, don't panic, it will fall down later. When it is ready, the sides should begin to give like this.
Contrary to other chefs, as so as the cheesecake is ready I take it out of the oven and not leave it in the oven for another 1-2 hours to cool – I want this to be practical, right ?
Place you cheesecake on a wire rack to cool for about 2 to 3 hours or more, after which pl
ace in the fridge over night or for about 12 hours (for early birds).
When you want to serve, carefully lift the cake from the pan making sure the edges are well away from the pan. If it looks rough around the edges
Don't panic, you can smooth it out by wetting a palette knife and going around the edges.
Serve the cheesecake after it has been out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes and slice with a hot dry knife – run the knife under very hot water and dry it. It will make it easy to slice that creamy heaven.
Before I forget… for the pic on top of the post, you can impress your friends by grating dark chocolate on top before you serve.
If you want to cover the top with a sour cream topping, then mix together 250ml of sour cream with 2 dessert spoons of caster sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla extract and pour on top of the still baking cheesecake about 10 minutes before the end – but be careful that the cheesecake is almost done, so that the sour cream doesn't fall through.
I promise to share some actual recipes with you very soon God willing. Let me know how you get on as the nights are getting longer, the temperature is getting colder, so a good time to bake and share with friends.
I'm moving house now but wanted to get this out to you so forgive me for any grammatical mistakes, bye and wish us luck.