Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lana's California Cheesecake

There is a local restaurant that has the best cheesecake! Better than any bakery or the Cheesecake Factory. Better than everyone! The cheesecake has a thick toffee-like crust, a rich cream cheese filling and is topped off with a generous scoop of freshly whipped cream. What's not to like?

Now I have made several recipes for cheesecake. I have found some helpful tips along the way, that I am going to share with you. You know for all cooking and baking, it really isn't about the recipe. It is about the technique. Does your cheesecake crack? Well read along and you will know the right cooking temperature to prevent that. Let's begin:

My recipe starts with the crust. Wanting my crust to be like the restaurant, I doubled the amount of graham cracker crumbs you would normally use in a recipe.

The crackers are crumbled, using a food processor. Then brown sugar is pulsed in. The cracker mixture is blended with butter.

Then pressed into a spring form pan, to bake. It is a good idea to place the spring form pan inside a baking tray. This helps with spills, and helps to remove, the pan, from the oven easier. The crust is baked at 350 for 7 minutes. Then cooled completely before filling. 

The crust can be baked ahead of time. However, if you are making this the same day, please note to turn the oven down to 275. Then proceed to making the filling:

Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature: cream cheese, cream and eggs. This will prevent a lumpy mixture. Start by creaming the cheese, until the lumps are smooth.

Blend in the sugar/flour mixture.

Blend in the heavy whipping cream.

Eggs and vanilla. (I really like that mid air shot of the egg falling into the mixer.) 

Making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixer, before giving one final stir.

Run a knife through the filling prior to baking, to release some of the air bubbles. Wouldn't it be funny if you slammed the pan on the counter, to release the bubbles, and cracked that crust? Ha Ha! Put the spring form pan in the center of a sheet pan. Bake at 275 for approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes. The center will be slightly jiggly.

This is the trick to mastering the cheesecake. You bake low and slow, at 275. No water bath, or bain-Marie, needed.

Lets pause for a moment and look at this perfectly baked cheesecake..... Once removed from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack. Place on the counter and let it come to room temperature. This will take a few hours. Be patient! Good things come to those who wait. Once the cake has cooled, transfer to the refrigerator. Wait some more. Let it chill completely. 6 or 8 hours, overnight is preferred.

You'll need to run a knife along the inside edge of the pan, to help release. Unbuckle the spring form pan, then transfer to a cake plate. Since my son requests this for his birthday, I put canned cherries as a decorative topping. If you want the restaurant version you would make home made whipped topping using heavy cream and sugar. Either way this is one fine tasting cheesecake.


2 Sleeves graham crackers, crushed
3/4 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup butter, melted
3 (8 ounce) Packages Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1 Cup sugar
2/3 Cup heavy whipping cream
4 Eggs
1 Teaspoon vanilla

Combine graham crackers and brown sugar in a food processor until crackers are ground into fine crumbs. Add melted butter and mix well. Press graham cracker mixture into a spring form pan; bake at 350 for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Lower oven to 275. To make filling: bring all ingredients to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl, mix cream cheese until just smooth. In a small bowl, mix flour and sugar. Add flour mixture to cream cheese and blend well. Stir heavy cream into cream cheese mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture into cooled rust. Bake at 275 until cake has firmed, approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes. Center will remain slightly jiggly. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer to refrigerator. Top with cherries and serve with freshly whipped cream.

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