Tag Archives: Cheesecake

Grandma’s Cheescake

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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.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 sticks butter (1 cup)

Graham crackers

6 tablespoons cold water

2 envelopes gelatin

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Cheese Pie

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I don’t tend to try to follow diets.  This is not to say I don’t watch what I eat and exercise, I do, mostly by refusing to eat fast food despite my love of curly fries.  Ummm….curly fries.   And I have this belief, which may be incorrect, that as long as I make it myself regardless of the amount of whipping cream or butter I use, it’s still healthy.  I’m sure that logic is sound.

While this logic works for me, and a lot of Zumba, it does not work for everyone.  In the last week or so I’ve had a few comments, both from my coworkers who beta test my food, and from a few people on line, that I might be a little too heavy handed with the whipping cream and butter.  So I have decided to post something a little healthier, and because nothing can ever be easy, I’ve decided to make a healthy cheesecake.  Yes, I said that right, this is a healthy cheesecake.

Those are two words that are probably not uttered together with any frequency, and it was the belief of one of my beta testers that it should not have been attempted, but he was actually satisfied with the result.  By using cottage cheese and sour cream instead of cream cheese and whipping cream the cheesecake is significantly healthier, this is a desert that would not break your diet, though it would probably bend it a great deal.

The balance with these ingredients is that the cheesecake will be much lighter, not as dense or creamy as a traditional cheesecake, which is why I am calling it cheese pie, with a slight tart taste from the lemon.  This makes it perfect for summer, and picnics to dazzle everyone.

Enjoy

Ingredients

Honey Graham Crackers

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

¼ cup sugar

1 quart strawberries

3 eggs

1 package cream cheese (8 oz)

¼ cup cottage cheese

1/3 cup powdered sugar

½ cup sour cream

1 lemon

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Preheat oven to 325OF

Let all ingredients come to room temperature.  Gagh I know, just get everything out and then watch Iron Chef for 30 minutes.

Crush the graham crackers to a fine powder in a blender or food processor.  You will need 1 ½-2 cups of crushed graham crackers, which takes about ½ of the box.  Take a cake pan and rub the butter stick around it liberally, buttering the cake tin.

Pour the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar into a mixing bowl.  Add the butter, cutting it into small pieces.  Mix by hand until the butter is fully incorporated.  The final mixture will not be completely mixed like a pie dough, but will still be very much like graham cracker crumbs.

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Take handfuls of the graham cracker mixture and scatter them into the cake tin.  Press down firmly to the bottom and then turn the tin on it’s side and repeat around of the sides.  Make sure there are no cracks and that the surface is well covered.  This does not have to be perfect, if it’s not even on the bottom or the sides it will still bake just fine.

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Wash the strawberries, cut off the stem, and cut the strawberries in half.  Fill the bottom of the cake tin with the strawberries, in whatever pattern you would like.  Refrigerate the crust while making the filling.

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Blend together the eggs, cream cheese, and cottage cheese, this is much easier with a hand mixer than by hand.  This will not make a completely mixed product, as the cottage cheese will not break up.

Add the powdered sugar, the sour cream, and the juice and zest of the lemon and mix well.

The zest of the lemon is the peeling, I find the easiest way to zest the lemon is to use a cheese grater, and to zest the lemon before cutting it.

Spoon the mixing into the prepared crust making sure to completely cover the strawberries in the bottom.  If you overflow the crust a little, that’s okay, but don’t overflow the tin.

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Bake for 45-50 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in.  The cheesecake should be slightly golden on the top and the crust might be very dark.  Don’t try to cook the cheesecake longer even if it isn’t completely set up, since this could lead to the cheesecake burning.  Leave the cheesecake in the oven until the oven is completely cool, or at least 2 hours.

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Refrigerate the cheesecake for 6 hours-overnight.  Before serving garnish with additional halved strawberries.

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I’d say this is a little bit of a more complicated recipe; the hardest part is making the crust, which isn’t difficult but does take some time.  Total prep time is about an hour, and total cooking time, not including refrigeration, is about 3 hours.

Enjoy!

Chai Cheescake

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The first time I made this was actually for a going away party for one of my coworkers.  I had a reputation in the department as being a good baker, and I asked her what she would like me to make.   She asked if I could make a cheesecake out of tea.

Well, I have to say, that was one of the strangest things I had ever heard, and I definitely hadn’t expected her to say that.  It had never occurred to me to try to bake tea into a cake, let alone a cheesecake.  She was a pretty good friend of mine, so since she had asked, I set out to apply.  So I did what any 90s kid would do.  I googgled it.

And…there are a lot of recipes for green tea cheesecake.  They all use the same basic ingredient list, tea, cream cheese, sugar, and eggs.  That’s not very hard.  Since she was Indian, and not Japanese, I figured she would prefer Chai tea to green; and that was when the recipe building began.  Several pies, and one very happy but sugar high family later; I had made my very first recipe.

It also started a persistent need to improve upon every recipe I’ve cooked since.   I’ve ended up with some really good recipes, some really awful recipes, and sometimes a very angry Megan.  But meh.  You win some, you lose some.

Anyway, Enjoy!

Ingredients

6 Chai tea bags

I used the Bigelow Spice Chai, which has a lot more flavor to it; I’ve also used the Bigelow Vanilla Chai which yields a much milder cheesecake which tastes a little more like regular cheesecake.

1 cup water

2 8-ounce containers of cream cheese

½ cup sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 9 inch graham cracker pie crust

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Sorry I forgot to include the lime juice in the photo, I just use the Kroger brand.

First thing, get the cream cheese out of the refrigerator.  I really hate to wait for things to come to room temperature, and I’m usually the one who gets impatient and just uses the butter cold, but unfortunately with this recipe it actually has to be room temp.  Unfortunate.   Cut the cream cheese into cubes, and it will defrost faster.

Heat water to boiling and measure out 1 cup of boiling water and put in all six tea bags.  Cover the 1 cup of water with a plate or anything else non-paper that will completely cover the container’s mouth in order to steep the tea.  I actually used the pie crust tin.

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Preheat oven to 350OF.

After the cream cheese has come to room temperature, about 20 minutes when it’s cut up, add the sugar and blend well.   If you’re using a hand mixer this will only take a few seconds.

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Add the egg, the steeped tea, and the lime juice and blend well again.  This will be pretty messy as it makes a really liquidy mixture so make sure you’ve used a bowl with high sides.

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This should make a completely viscous mixture.  If your mixture looks like the above picture, skip the next paragraph.

If your mixture has lots of little white chunks in it, that’s the cream cheese, because it was not at room temperature yet when you started.  You can blend all you want, it won’t get well incorporated.  Don’t worry though, you can still bake it.  It will just not have as even a consistency, as those little chunks of cream cheese will bake differently than the rest of the mixture.

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Pour the mixture into the graham cracker pie crust; do not over fill the pie crust so you will probably have a little filling left over.  Very carefully place the pie crust in the oven; it will be very easy to spill so watch your step.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is starting to turn brown.

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Pie should still be a little jiggly, like jello, if touched, but should appear solid and a little puffed up.  Turn the oven off and leave the pie in for an additional 1-2 hours, until it is no longer jiggly.  Try to open the oven as little as possible, since this lets out your heat.

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When the pie is done, it will have deflated and will pull away from the tin slightly.  It will still be a little semi-solid if you serve it immediately, for it to properly set up it has to be refrigerated for 3-6 hours.

Sever warm, or refrigerate for 6 hours to cool completely.  Enjoy