I know, I know, it’s another cheesecake recipe. What can I say, it’s Cheesecake.
Around this time of year I generally take a trip to St Louis to see Shakespeare in the Park, and one of the places I like to go is the Cheesecake Factory. As someone who loves deserts, they do good deserts. I’m not a supper big fan of the restaurant itself, but I love their cheesecake, so a lot of times I would get the cheesecake to go, and eat it at Shakespeare in the Park.
It’s an amazing experience for anyone who’s in the area and hasn’t tried it yet. It is a picnic kind of affair where people bring blankets and baskets and lounge around on this big hill. For a good spot, you need to be there about an hour before the show starts, and they generally have some of the actors roaming around the audience in character interacting with the crowd.
Before the show starts there’s a lot of noise. People talking, kids running around, laughing, but when the show starts it’s instantly silent. Their acoustics are amazing too, you can hear every word even if you’re sitting a fair distance from the stage, they do a good job. And if I haven’t sold you yet, it’s free. True, there are seats in the very front that you can buy, but half the fun is sitting on your big picnic blanket and munching on cheesecake and samosas.
The show opened this week, and I’m not going to be able to make it for a few weeks yet, but I’m already craving that cheesecake and samosas.
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
6 tablespoons cold water
2 envelopes gelatin
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
Juice of 1 lemon
Rind of 2 lemons
1 package cream cheese (1/2 lb)
1 cup cottage cheese
½ cup heavy cream
1 quart strawberries
Get the cottage cheese and cream cheese out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature while preparing the other ingredients.
This recipe makes enough filling for two pies, so I’ve included the amount of crust needed for two pies. Crush the graham crackers in a food processor or a blender until crushed and you have 4 cups worth of graham cracker crumbs. Takes the entire package of graham crackers. Divide the graham cracker crumbs into 2-2 cup proportions.
Into each 2 cup of graham crackers cut 1 stick of butter into very small pieces and mix by hand until the butter is totally mixed. Will only take about 5 minutes, and the mixture will not be smooth but will have the consistency of oily graham cracker crumbs.
Sprinkle the graham cracker mix one handful at a time into the bottom of a cake tin. Firmly press the crumbs into the bottom of the tin. Turn the tin on it’s side and repeat, pressing into the sides of the pan as high as you can. Make sure there are no cracks or breaks in the crust, but it’s okay if it’s uneven.
Chill while preparing the filling.
Put the water in a small bowl and add the two envelopes of gelatin. Stir and let sit until the gelatin softens. Pour the gelatin into a small saucepan and add the sugar and salt, heat over low heat until the gelatin and sugar dissolves.
Add the eggs and the milk, stirring often until the mixture is almost at a boil and the mixture starts to thicken. On low heat this will take a while, about 20 minutes. If you are impatient you can turn the heat up to medium and stir constantly, which will thicken the mixture in about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and rind. Cool in the refrigerator until no longer hot.
While waiting, mix together your now room temperature cottage cheese and cream cheese. Beat with a hand mixer or an upright until the entire mixture resembles cream cheese as opposed to cottage cheese, takes about 5-10 minutes.
Add the gelatin, after it is no longer hot, and mix. Pour the mixture into the crumb bases and chill overnight. Do not overfill either crust.
Decorate with strawberries and powdered sugar if desired.
All in all, this takes about an hour of prep time, and then it needs to be in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, so it’s definitely a make ahead kind of desert, but it’s well worth the wait.