European Lemon Cheesecake

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 9-inch cheesecake
Recipe: 103/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 162

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    For the second cake that I had to (I don’t like baking at all, I was almost tortured!) make for my boyfriend since I lost a bet, he requested this European lemon cheesecake because, quite simply, he loves lemon and cheesecake, so the combination could only be delicious. The theory proved to be true! This cake was simple to make and although I genuinely had my reservations about this cheesecake due to the use of pressed cottage cheese (note: cottage cheese has always caused some slight disgust to me), it was excellent. Perhaps slightly too lemony for my taste, yet still highly enjoyable. The texture is perfect and similar to that of the classic cheesecake, but feels a bit fluffier and lighter. Essentially, this cheesecake eats itself and you don’t feel to guilty about doing it! Lemon lovers are sure to love this dessert.

   Even though it was not expected for this European cheesecake, I did encounter the typical cheesecake problem of having a big crack develop in the middle. Since I did run a palette knife around the cake after taking it out of the oven and I let it cool completely before chilling it, the only other reason that I think may have caused the crack is that I may have over-whipped the egg whites. It may have been more of a stiff peak than a medium peak, which would have caused the eggs to deflate when the cake was cooling down. So be careful while whipping your eggs, but this is really the only sensitive step of the recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8 oz/250 g) pressed cottage cheese, 10% milk fat
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs at room temperature, separated
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform and coat it with sugar, making sure to tap out the excess.
  2. Using a food processor or a hand mixer, blend the cottage cheese with ½ cup of the sugar.
  3. Add the flour, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Blend well.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks.
  5. In a stand mixer or in a clean bowl using a hand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until frothy, then pour in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, continuing to whip the whites until they hold a medium peak (the whites should curl just slightly when the beaters are lifted).
  6. Fold the whites into the cheese mixture in two additions, then spread the cheesecake evenly in the prepared pan.
  7. Bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and bake for about 25 minutes more, until the top just begins to colour. Let the cheesecake cool completely to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours before slicing.

Notes from Anna:

  • To prevent a gaping crack to form in the middle of your cheesecake, the speed at which the egg whites are whipped is crucial. Whipped eggs will soufflé in the oven, but when the cheesecake starts cooling, those souffléd eggs will fall, thus creating a crack, even hours after the cheesecake is out of the oven. Make sure not to whip the egg whites too much.
  • Another tip to prevent cracks in the cheesecake is to run a palette knife around the inside edge of the springform pan, which allows to separate the cake from the pan. This way, if and when the cheesecake contracts, it will pull away from the sides of the pan, making it less likely to crack in the middle.

Valerie

White Chocolate Raspberry Lime Cheesecake

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 9-inch cheesecake
Recipe: 69/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 164

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    Oh how I love the richness and sweetness of cheesecakes. So much deliciousness in one dessert is probably frowned upon in some parts of the world (sadly!). This recipe is very unique in the sense that it is at least as good as a traditional cheesecake, but contains fresh raspberries and also has hints of lime and white chocolate. The lime cuts down on the sweetness a bit while the white chocolate provides an additional layer of flavor. Another unusual ingredient for a cheesecake is the sour cream, which makes for a less rich cheesecake that is just as scrumptious. I would never have thought to combine these eclectic ingredients together, but they totally work! If you are craving an excellent yet less rich cheesecake, this is definitely the recipe to try. 

Ingredients for crust:

  • 1/2 recipe Snickerdoodles, processed into crumbs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for filling:

  • 2 packages (8 oz/250 g each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 4 oz (125 g) white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries, plus extra for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a bowl, stir the cookie crumbs with the melted butter and press them into the bottom and halfway up the side of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes and cool while preparing the filling.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Beat the cream cheese and flour until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Slowly pour in the sugar while beating and scrape the sides of the bowl 2-3 times while adding.
  5. Beat in the sour cream, lime juice and zest, and vanilla extract until well blended. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  6. One at a time, add the eggs and the egg yolk, beating well at low speed after each addition.
  7. By hand, fold in the white chocolate and raspberries. Pour the mixture into the cooled crust.
  8. Place the pan on a baking tray and bake for about 40 minutes (it took my oven more like one hour !), until the outside edges of the cheesecake are set but the centre still has a little  jiggle to it. Cool the cheesecake to room temperature, then chill until set, at least 6 hours.

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Notes from Anna:

  • Crumbs from any other buttery sugar cookies could be used in place of Snickerdoodles.
  • Just before placing it in the refrigerator to chill, run a palette knife around the inside edge of the springform. This allows to separate the cheesecake from the pan so that if it contracts, it will pull away from the sides of the pan and will be less likely to crack in the middle.

Valerie

Luscious Vanilla Cheesecake

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 9-inch cheesecake
Recipe: 16/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 160

   I will make it simple for everyone. If I had 0.01 seconds to think about and name my favorite dessert, it would no doubt be cheesecake. I rarely eat desserts in restaurants, but when I do I almost always opt for the classic cheesecake with the fruit coulis. I cannot help it, it is a craving that is rooted deep within. I love cheesecake. However, I have never ever (how dare I!) made one myself. This is simply because I quickly realized that a cheesecake is one of the only dessert that I can think of that is actually more expensive to make than to buy. Nonetheless, this recipe for a classic vanilla cheesecake was one of the first I noticed when I first received this cookbook, and now I am happy to say I have made my first cheesecake.

   In hindsight, there are a couple of things that I would change from my first try at making a cheesecake, but that is the essence of baking: learning and adapting from our mistakes. I know my oven to be hotter than others, so I usually decrease the time of baking or cooking by a couple of minutes while trying out a new recipe, and it almost always comes out great. I did the same thing for this cheesecake. I baked it a couple of minutes less than what Anna suggested in the recipe, but that was definitely a mistake on my part. A big part of enjoying food for me is texture. Since I baked this cheesecake less than I should have, the middle of the cake was a bit undercooked and not very firm. The taste was still delicious and heavenly, but the texture, personally, could have been better. The edge of the cheesecake, however, was the perfect texture: firm but not hard. Next time I will definitely bake it as suggested, even with my unstable oven. In summary, this recipe was feasible and delicious, but I recommend that you follow the baking instructions, no matter what oven you possess!

Ingredients for crust:

  • 1  1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for filling:

  • 4 packages (8 oz./250 g each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1  1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature

Optional: Raspberry compote

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking tray.
  2. Combine the graham crumbs and sugar together. Pour in the melted butter and stir until the graham crumbs are coated. The mixture will still be crumbly at this point, but worry not. Press the crumbs into the prepared pan, pushing the crumbs one inch up the sides. Using a ramekin or a solid glass to press down and compact the crumbs will facilitate the task.
  3. Bake the crust for 12 minutes. Cool while preparing the filling.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
  5. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and cornstarch until well combined.
  6. While beating, add in the sugar. Scrape the sides of the bowl to mix well.
  7. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract.
  8. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  9. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake for 55 minutes.
  10. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in for another 10 minutes, making sure to open the oven door slightly.
  11. After the cake is out of the oven and has cooled for 30 minutes, run a long knife around the outside edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan. Cool the cheesecake completely to room temperature (for a minimum of 6 hours) before chilling it in the refrigerator.

Notes from Anna:

  • Allowing the cheesecake to cool completely to room temperature before chilling is  a simple and important step to prevent the formation of a crack on the cake. 
  • Best results are obtained with sour cream with 14% fat content.

Valerie