Missed Cheesecake Day? Still time to celebrate!
Last updated 10/17/2019 at 12:04am | View PDF
I baked my first cheesecake under duress.
Dan and I were newly married, living in an apartment in Wrigleyville, and we had invited his parents over for a Saturday night dinner.
Being young and foolish, we had indulged in some merriment the night before. Overindulged, to be truthful.
And so much of Saturday was spent recuperating on the couch. I don’t think I started working on dinner until about two hours before my in-laws were expected to arrive. Somehow, I managed to pull it off. Dinner was tolerable, if memory serves me. The cheesecake was a success!
Since that meal, I’ve accumulated several cookbooks devoted to may favorite dessert and a stand mixer and food processor to make preparation easier.
There are just a few tricks to making a good cheesecake. Use room temperature ingredients, beat the cream cheese longer than the directions indicate and scrape the sides of the bowl frequently. Also, wrap the pan with foil, lest you set an electric oven on fire.
National Cheesecake Day was Tuesday, but when it comes to cheesecake, it’s never too late to celebrate. Since I shared the recipe for our annual Christmas toffee cheesecake (my absolute favorite) in an article a few years back, I’ve chosen a white chocolate cheesecake with strawberries (an extremely close runner-up) to reprint.
The recipe, which I first read in Bon Appetit, says it serves 12 to 14. Not at my house.
1 9-ounce package chocolate wafer cookies, broken into pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker’s), finely chopped
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 1-pint baskets strawberries, hulled, halved
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Wrap outside of pan with foil. Finely grind cookies in processor. Add melted butter; process until crumbs are moist. Press crumbs onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of pan. (I use a little less butter and do not press the crumbs up the side.) Bake until set, about 15 minutes. Cool on rack. (Or place in freezer for 10 minutes.) Maintain oven temperature.
Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler set over barely simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. (Or microwave good-quality chips, such as Ghiradelli, following package directions.) Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar, then salt; beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla; beat until well blended.
Bake cake until top begins to brown but center still moves slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Open oven door slightly; turn off oven. Leave cake in oven 30 minutes. Chill cake uncovered overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep refrigerated.)
Run small knife between pan sides and cake. Release pan sides. Starting at outer edge of top of cake, arrange strawberry halves in slightly overlapping concentric circles, covering top completely. Stir preserves and brandy in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until mixture boils. Strain preserves. Brush glaze generously over strawberries, allowing some glaze to drip between berries. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Chill.)
— Pamela Lannom is a cheesecake fanatic and editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected]