Thursday, May 28, 2009

Daily Decadent Cheesecake

A long time ago, GG and I came across a Jarvis Street eatery in Toronto, The Groaning Board. They served cheesecake to die for and all the four hour drive home, that cheesecake was all GG could talk about. It was topped with preserves, fresh fruit, and plain yogurt. Previous to that, I thought cheesecake meant overly sweet, gluppy stuff, with a ubiquitous crown of commercial canned cherry pie filling swimming on it's head. My mother never made cheesecake. No wonder.

Saucey Chef was living and cooking in Toronto and she went to The Groaning Board and did her saucey best to get the recipe from the staff, each time coming away empty handed. She kept going back ordering the cheesecake and each time "oohed" and "ahhed" and then asked ever so politely for the recipe only to be repeatedly denied because this was apparently a huge secret until - finally - it was revealed - an Italian lady made it in her home and brought it into the restaurant.Encouraged by this, Saucey continued her little visits until - finally - this happened - a torn piece of paper thrust into her hand with these instructions: "3 litres ricotta and cream cheese, 2 dozen eggs, 2 - 3 cups sugar, lots vanilla/lemon extract." Now to Saucey that was gold. To me? What was I supposed to do with that? Well, you can see above what sleep deprivation does as I erroneously equated volume with mass when copying the instructions onto one of my recipe cards. I compared the "instructions" with other cheesecake recipes, brushed aside all which seemed gluppy and this is what I eventually came up with. It's a solid cheesecake not gluppy, not overly sweet. It slices, remains firm and is creamy. After some reading I've learned that the Jewish tradition is to use cream cheese whereas the Italian tradition is to use ricotta. The Italian lady baking for the Groaning Board apparently combined both. I use only cream cheese and only Philadelphia brand.You can actually taste the cheese and the lemon and the fresh fruit and the delightful preserves and slight contrasting tang of yogurt, if you choose to add a dollop, or the incredible calm compliment of white chocolate icing if you ice it. My cheesecake is not perfect here, it got a bit browned and cracked on top, problems which can be eliminated by not overbeating, using a bain-marie. I know this but sometimes still skip steps and well, you know how it is. Nevertheless, it still was creamy, tasted fine and the wolves howled for more.I always leave off a baked on crust too. No. No soggy crust here. I pat on some crushed gingersnaps or crushed chocolate cookies after the cake is baked and cooled and ready to serve. If I'm icing, I pat the crumbs only onto the bottom. Also, remember to beat the sugar into the cheese first. DO NOT add the eggs until that sugar is beat in there first. Otherwise the texture will be grainy and that is as verboten as gluppy in cheesecake.Daily Decadent Cheesecake
  • 4 pkgs. - 8 oz. cream cheese, use the best
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsps. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps. lemon extract
  • finely grated rind of half a lemon
  • strained juice of half a lemon
  • freshly grated nutmeg, optional
Toppings
1. Preserves of your choice, pushed through a strainer - enough to cover the top of the cake.
2. Fresh fruit of your choice to match your preserves
3. Plain yogurt to spoon onto each serving

White Chocolate Icing - I'll post this recipe separately, but I only use it for special occasions.

Bring the eggs to room temperature by putting them into a bowl, cover with very warm water and set aside.
Unwrap the cheese and pop it into the mixer bowl and let it stand until room temperature. Peel the lemon being careful to leave behind the bitter white part. Finely mince the peel. If you have a proper zester, use that - I don't - one more gadget running around in the drawers.
Squeeze the peeled lemon and pour the juice through a coffee filter set into a bowl. Carefully lift the filter gathering up the top together and strain the juice out through the bottom. It will take a little bit of forcing, as coffee filters are more dense than cheesecloth. I didn't have any cheesecloth.
Add the lemon and vanilla flavourings to the strained fresh lemon juice. Add the minced peel and set aside. When the cheese is room temperature beat until creamed.
Add sugar and beat until creamed.
Scrape down the bowl and beaters as necessary. Use your fingers to scrape down the wires of the beater.
Break eggs into a separate bowl and beat them until just well mixed. Don't overbeat the eggs. This is not a flour cake where eggs are an integral part of the cake rising. I've found it better to use a hand held mixer with a rotating cutting blade doing the mixing, not classic beaters which will incorporate air.
Add the flavourings to the cheese and mix in. Mix the eggs into the cheese and sugar mixture until thoroughly mixed being careful to not overbeat.
Pour the mix directly into buttered paper lined pan which I talked about here. Use an 8 or 9 or 10 inch springform pan for this recipe. The bake time is the same. Just the height of the cakes will differ. I happened to double this and am making two cakes here of different sizes. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Fill a shallow roaster pan with an inch of hot water, place the cake into it and then put that in the oven. I can't show you this as I actually gave my pan away to One Old Man. He needed it for a duck or something. Bake for 50 minutes, turn the oven off and keep the cake in the oven for another hour leaving the door shut. Take it out and let it cool at room temperature. Cover and put in the fridge overnight.
If you have wolves you may have to leave a love note and food elsewhere. Peel off the paper, pat on crushed cookie crumbs and serve as directed above.

7 comments:

Mental P Mama said...

I love cheesecake, and this one looks, well, decadent;) A note like that would just encourage my wolves....

Adeena said...

I *love* cheesecake! It's my favourite dessert. And yours looks to-die-for!! Will have to try it.

Sue said...

Oh my! I haven't had real cheese cake in so long. The cheese cake (and I use that term loosely) here in Japan hardly resembles what I know as cheese cake. Sigh. I am saving this recipe, and I will try it some day when I am less distracted!

Leila said...

I. Love. Cheesecake.

Yours looks unbelievable.

I may be a wolf.

Jeanne said...

Oh your family must be in Heaven with all that you create and cook
Fabulous

Decadent Housewife said...

Leila, Wolfette. :)

Caution Flag said...

Oh, Decadent! Your blog is full of beauty. A treat in the purest form.