Wow, if blogging was my 'job', I would most definitely be out of work. My ex boss would undoubtedly tell me that I wasn't taking it seriously enough and that I needed to be more dedicated. Sigh. Sadly, life has gotten in the way of my little hobby. Since my last post, there's been a wedding, a funeral, a birthday party, a disgusting eye infection for both kids, my very own sinus infection and all four of us have been playing host to some unidentified virus that has lingered for weeks. Throw in obedience classes for our foolish puppy who still prefers to pee in the house than outside and that pretty much sums up our lives for the past month. Between the snotty noses and the puddles on the floor, we've gone through more kleenex and paper towels than I care to admit.
So when my aunt invited all the lovely ladies of our family over for an afternoon of doing what we do best: gabbing and eating, I jumped at the opportunity to get back in the kitchen and bake something yummy... cheesecake.
If you've been reading my blog, you know how big a hater I am of dry cakes. My intense hate notwithstanding, I've become quite proficient at baking them, unfortunately, and I shudder to think of all the cakes that have been slaved over in my kitchen, only to find themselves in my garbage. The same applies to cheesecake. I love a good cheesecake, but the texture must be creamy and decadent or else I'm liable to pout. I started my search for the perfect cheesecake by looking at dozens upon dozens of recipes and then settling on a very basic recipe found on the Kraft website, and then 'tweaking' it. Extensively.
I lowered the oven temperature, shortened the cooking time, used a water bath (even though surprisingly the recipe did not call for one), then I added more sour cream, more sugar, more vanilla extract and threw in a vanilla bean for good measure. I also took the liberty of using a different brand of cream cheese, and more of it. Then, as if I hadn't thumbed my nose at Kraft's version enough, I pulled out my food processor to mix it instead of using the stand mixer. By the time I was done, my version was nothing like the recipe I started with but the end result was a smooth, creamy, velvety rich, vanilla cheesecake that I am happy to share with you. The options for 'toppings' are endless. In the Kraft version, they use canned cherry pie filling but there was NO way anything from a can would make it's way on top of this cake. Since the sun had finally decided to make an appearance this weekend ('had' being the operative word) I opted for fresh berries. It just seemed fitting. We all enjoyed our afternoon of summer on my aunt's deck and it's a good thing too, because the sun is nowhere to be found today.
Recipe for Vanilla Cheesecake:
1 1/2 cups Graham Wafer crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
Melt butter, mix with Graham Wafer crumbs and sugar and press firmly into bottom of a greased 9 inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the cake pan with foil to prevent water from seeping in. Set aside. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
1 kg. container of Victorian Style cream cheese (found at Costco); or 4 eight ounce packages of full fat cream cheese
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup of full fat sour cream
1 T. vanilla extract
seeds from 1 vanilla bean
Put all the ingredients (except the eggs) into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse several times until the mixture is well blended and smooth, scraping the sides as necessary. Add the eggs, one at a time, pulsing after each addition until fully incorporated. Be careful not to over process. Once the batter is smooth, pour over your crust.
Place cake into shallow baking pan and add enough boiling water to reach half way up cake pan. Bake for one hour. Cake should still be jiggly after the hour. Carefully from the oven, and remove the cake from the water bath. Allow to cool on your counter top until room temperature. (About 2 hours). Refrigerate at least 4 hours, but overnight is best.
This cake was silky and rich, but not overwhelmingly sweet. It's the perfect canvass for any sweet topping your heart desires. I'm thinking caramel might be next...