NY Cheesecake of OMGness

Betsy showed me this blog called, Smitten Kitchen.  The pictures are beautiful and they really invite me to cook what she’s making.  I’ve already bookmarked a dozen or so recipes to try out but I decided to start off with a NY Style Cheesecake.

I keep trying to tell the story but I just want to jump to the end!

I’ll just tell you, this turned out FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!

Okay, the story.

I better understand why people just buy these in the store, they cost like half as much that way.  They also don’t taste as good.

The crust was super simple and the only thing I need to worry about next time is making sure to thin the corners out a bit.  Some places of the crust was like a quarter inch thick and that’s not so good.

Mixing everything was pretty easy and then I put that bitch into the oven.  The recipe said that if your pan has a teflon coating you need to be careful not to put it above 475 degrees F.  I have no idea if mine did so I messed up a bit and put the oven on 450.

You bake it at that temp for (a specified time) but when I realized it was at 450 instead of 475 I kind of just eyeballed it.  Then you have to reduce the heat to 12 and bake it ’til the second coming.

I got pretty scared though when I reduced the temp.  My cheesecake had a pretty golden color on the top but I’ve never seen a cheesecake with that color on top.  I’ve only seen them pristine white, ya know, like when ya buy it at Wal-Mart!

Do you know how to tell when a cheesecake is done?  You guess!  When it’s done it looks roughly like it does when you first put it in.  If it wasn’t for a timer I’d have no idea.  The center is still supposed to look a bit wet and it still has jiggle like when you first put it in so hell if I know what it looks like done.  ‘Cuz it doesn’t set-up until after you take it out and cool it and then refrigerate it.

It’s mind-boggling I tell you!

Have you ever made something and you can kind of tell when people think it’s a solid B.  They enjoy it but let’s face it, it’s not earth shattering.  I don’t like making a B.  I want an A+ with a gold star.

I want someone’s knees to buckle and to hear them moan as they taste my food.

This cheesecake did just that.

People were fighting over slices.

As of this posting, it’s the best thing I’ve ever made.

EVER.

How good was this?

– I gave some to my grandmother and she wouldn’t share it with my uncle or grandfather.

– Betsy has an allergy to dairy and eggs.  She still had a piece even though her throat was swelling up.

Recipe – Copied over from Smitten Kitchen.

New York Cheesecake
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, a perfect example of why I miss it so

The changes I made to the original recipe were to one and three-fifths (yes, exactly that) the crumb crust because I like those that go up the walls (you still might have a smidge more than you need but I figure it is less annoying than measuring the recipe in 7 tablespoon amounts), significantly reducing the zest (because as far as I’m concerned, the entire zest from two citrus fruits is an absurdly high amount), fudging (unsuccessfully) with the baking time and adding a completely optional cherry topping. That is not from a can. You are welcome.

Crumb crust
8 ounces (15 4 3/4 x 2 1/2-inch sheets of graham cracker; yes, I am crazy enough to both count and measure) finely ground graham crackers or cookies such as chocolate or vanilla wafers
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Very tall cheesecake filling:
5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia is recommended for cheesecakes but if you’ve had success with other brands, feel free to use them again)
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (I left this out, I hate it.)
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cherry topping
10 ounces sweet or sour cherries, pitted (they’re not in season here so I used frozen; worked just fine)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar*
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Make crumb crust: Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and up the sides, stopping one inch shy of the top rim**, of a buttered 9 1/2-inch (or 24 cm) springform pan. You can fill it right away but I like to pop my into the freezer so it quickly sets while I prepare the filling.

Make very tall cheesecake filling: Preheat oven to 550 degrees***. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, flour and zest with an electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla, then eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated. Scrape bowl down between additions; I cannot stress this enough as if you do not, you’ll end up with unmixed stripes of cream cheese. I always find at least one, despite my best efforts.

Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan (to catch drips). Pour filling into crust (springform pan will be completely full) and baking in baking pan in the middle of the oven for 12 minutes or until puffed. Please watch your cake because some ovens will top-brown very quickly and if yours does too fast, turn the oven down as soon as you catch it. Reduce the temperature to 200 degrees (see Note below about my baking drama) and continue baking until cake is mostly firm (center will still be slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken), about one hour more.

Run a knife around the top edge of the cake to loosen it and cool the cake completely in springform on a rack, then chill it, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.

Make cherry topping (optional): Place all ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, cook it for an additional one to two minutes then remove from heat. Cool completely.

Remove side of pan and transfer cake to a plate. If you had any wonky baking issues (see my Note below), you might need to trim the cake flat. I promise not to tell anyone what happened to those scraps, okay?

Spread topping (if using) over chilled cheesecake. The original recipe says to bring this to room temperature before serving, but I never have!

Do ahead: Cheesecake keeps, covered and chilled, 2 weeks.

Baking drama: As some of the pictures might suggest, I really borked (an actual word, thank you) the baking of this cake. First, I was convinced that 550 degrees would singe my cake so I did the first step at 400, to see if you can get away with it. Yes, I am guilty of not following a recipe from time to time too. It turns out, 550 would have been just fine. Then, although I turned my oven down to 200, I didn’t check the thermometer inside my junky oven, and had I, I’d have realized that what my ovencalls 200 is more like 150. And an hour later, was almost completely raw. Then I upped it to 300, which my oven told me was actually 250, where it still took another hour to bake and gained many cracks. I blame the fact that the oven didn’t start hot enough, as many others have made this recipe crack-free. What’s the point of me sharing this? To give you a heads up that oven wonkiness may ensue. What matters is that, in the end, you do not take the cake out before it is ready. An accurate oven helps too. I’m going to get right on that.

* You might dial this up by up to another 1/4 cup if you’re using sour cherries. However, if you’re using sour cherries I’m going to assume it is because you like them, and the more tart taste they impart, thus you probably will enjoy this sauce just as much with only 1/4 cup sugar. Look at me, psychologizing!

** This is updated based on responses from commenters. Thank you, intrepid home bakers!

*** Yes, this is correct, but updated to note 9/12/10 that please, if you are using a Teflon-coated pan, note it’s temperature limit, often around 475, and only start your baking temperature there.

(11.12.11) Xeo Edit:  I realized that I tend to remake some of these recipes and I don’t ever really note my stupid changes.  Going to edit those in now.

– Drop the lemon zest, bump orange to 1.5 T orange.
– 450 for about 20-25mins for the top crust

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4 thoughts on “NY Cheesecake of OMGness

  1. You neglected to mention just how loudly this cheesecake can shout from the refrigerator, “COME EAT ME NOW!” I had to stab it with my fork several times to silence it. Then it nearly killed me. But holy mother of cheesecake was it ever worth it!

  2. Xeonio says:

    That it does. I took a slice to work for an employee and ended up having to silence it before she got here.

    Oops!

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