Dorie’s Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of my all time favorite treats.  I loved it enough to have it as my wedding cake.  It was ridiculous to pay that much for a wedding cake for only a small number of people but hell, I am planning on sticking with the one I picked! 

Cheesecake falls into two worlds, French style and New York style.  Simply put, french style is more pudding and creamy like while NY style is way better.  Okay, not the real story but NY style is much more firm and dense.  The Tuesday’s with Doriegroup is baking their way through the Dorie Greenspan book one Tuesday at a time.  I have been watching the group from afar so when I found the regularly priced $45 book at TJ Maxx for $10 I grabbed it and ran like a demon.  That crazy TJ Maxx had no idea that even Amazon.com was selling it for four times that price.   The book is a bit more than just a cookbook.  Dorie gives variations of almost every recipe and also tells stories about a lot of her recipes and how they came to life.  I have spent hours pouring over the recipes and stories deciding which one would be my first test.  If you don’t know who Dorie is, just imagine being good enough to work with some of the legends of the cooking world and there you have it, Dorie Greenspan. 

This cheesecake recipe is relatively simple in ingredients, but does require a few extra steps to make the recipe like boiling water for the hot water bath and allowing the cheesecake to set for a hour in the oven after baking.  I was nervous the cheesecake would be underdone since it was very white on top after baking.  Then I was nervous that the cheesecake would overbake since it sat in the oven that extra hour.  Now I realize that Dorie has worked with people like Julia Child for a reason, she knows what the heck she is doing. 

The recipe turns out gorgeously.  Perfectly creamy and thick.  Rich enough to make you only need a small slice.  Perfect with a berry glaze on top.  I also melted some chocolate chips with a tablespoon of peanut butter for a different take on the same cheesecake.  I rarely top the cheesecake with anything immediately after baking since everyone has their own preference.  I like to be able to choose my topping! 

My instructions for a berry glaze follow the recipe. 

Tall and Creamy CheesecakeFrom Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

16 servings
Ingredients
For the crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
Directions
To make the crust:
1. Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap  the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir with a fork until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist.  Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn’t have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.
3.Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
To make the cheesecake:
1. Put a kettle or large pot of water on to boil.
2. Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
3. Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.
4.  Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
5. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
6. After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
7.  When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight is best. 
Berry Puree
Ingredients
3-4 cups frozen berries
water
1/4 cup sugar
1-2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
Directions
Most berries have about two million seeds but making a puree is relatively easy.  
1. To make a berry glaze puree frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc…) with a bit of water until smooth. 
2. Strain with a cheesecloth into small saucepan. 
3.  Add sugar to berries.  It will depend on your berry, so be sure to taste test. 
4.  Bring berry mixture to a boil. 
5. Mix cornstarch with  water and slowly add to berry puree while whisking.  The cornstarch will thicken the berry mixture almost immediately, so only add cornstarch until it is desired thickness.
Allow to cool and pour over individual slices of cheesecake. 
 
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Whip It Up: Hand Pie Edition

I can’t help myself.  Hand pies.  Doesn’t that sound pervy.  Just me?  I can’t help it.  I have the humor of a 12 year old boy apparently. 

For this week’s recipe I made a tasty little pie that can be held in your hands.  Crap, I totally can’t be mature about this.  Someone please come up with a better name for this dessert.  My husband recently decided that he liked to pack these in his lunch.  Apparently he has the tastebuds of a 12 year old boy to match my humor.  Good thing we married each other. 
 

No offense to the Cutie Pie makers out there, but your prepackaged apple thing you like to call a real fruit pie is blasphemy to those of us that dream of opening a bakery.  At least they came up with a better name for it. 

I found the recipe on a food blog that I seem to love, Annie’s Eats.  If you love to cook, go ahead and read her.  I have printed out several of her recipes and plan to try tons of them.  They are all in my binder. 

If you are a pie lover as my husband and I are, make these.  They will not disappoint.  At all.  I made them twice in three days, once with the recommened strawberries and once with my husband’s coveted black raspberries.  For someone who makes regular pies, this is not much different.  I found the dough a bit more tricky to work with than my regular pie crust, but that may be due to my need for perfectionism than the dough itself. 

The recipe starts simple enough with your basic ingredients.  The recipe states that you should use a mixer to blend the flour and butter mixture.  I found that this was only a great way to throw things around my kitchen and I do that well enough on my own. (Exhibit below) Using a pastry butter or even your hands to break up the butter was a better solution for me. 
Next you add the buttermilk.  I never have buttermilk on hand and usually just make it by using regular milk and a splash of apple cider vinegar.  Way better than buying even a pint of buttermilk and only using a small amount. 
After mixing the dough together, let it cool in the fridge for at least an hour. 
The recipe suggests cutting the dough into 12 wedges and shaping from there.  I attempted this method and found that the dough warmed very quickly and by the time I got it shaped the way I prefered, it was getting very sticky to work with.  The second batch I made I cut the dough into twelve equal peices and then shaped them into circles prior to placing in the fridge.  This method was better, but due to the perfection that I would have liked to obtained in regards to a perfect circle, the next time I make these I will roll the entire batch of dough out and trace a bowl of the appropriate size to make a perfect circle shape. 
My next peice of advice is to not make the berry mixture early.  It will then effectivly leak out of the pies.  All over.  No fun.  Mix the berries or fruit of choice immediately before placing into the dough. 
I found that I could not get enough of the strawberries into the pie as I like for a filling to dough ratio, but if you cut the peices smaller, I would imagine that it would work better.  The shape of the black raspberries allowed a better dough to filling ratio. 
I should also tell you that I am not a neat baker. 
Neither my apron or my counters are safe.  If you look closely, you can see the powdered sugar escaped to the stove and to the bottom of the cabinet near the floor.  Oops. 
But they were darn tasty. 
Next time I will try them with some of the 10lbs of blueberries I have in the freezer.  This dough has such a good sweet flavor that I may try it as a regular pie crust at some point. 
This recipe would be a good one for someone who only has two people in their family or even someone living on their own that loves pie but doesn’t want to eat an entire pie at once.  Freezing a portion of the 12 you make would be a great way to keep these.  Taking one in your lunch is much eaiser than taking a peice of pie. 
But don’t worry, in my family of two, 24 kept us for two weeks. We gave some away.  GEESH. 

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

If you are anything like me, you love peanut butter.  You love chocolate.  What about cheesecake.  Some people might be lost there, but not me.  I love cheesecake enough that it was our wedding cake.  Let me tell you that a cheesecake big enough to serve the very small wedding that we had cost almost as much as most people will pay for a cake for 150 people.  Ouch.  Oh weddings and how you pay out the wazoo for everything. 

Wait.  Focus.  Cheesecake.  Peanut Butter Cheesecake cups.  A good friend, close enough friend that I would consider her like family, celebrated her birthday last week.  She absolutely loves peanut butter and chocolate and typically I make chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing for her, but this time I wanted something different.  The original recipe was a full cheesecake, but I knew that one large cheesecake for two people is a bit much even if it is tasty, so I decided to try to adapt it to cupcakes.  Then I realized I was missing ingredients.  Then I realized I did not know what adding peanut butter to the recipe would do to it.  So I just began to wing it.  Then when I realized that I was using the crust up way to quickly and I had to make more mid baking.  The recipe was more of a guide.  But sweet mother.  I will make these sweet babies again and again.  I received rave reviews from both the birthday girl and folks at the office that received the remainders. 

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups- Eats and Treats

Yields 20 Cheescake Cups

Crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Cheesecake
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup peanut butter 
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Additional mini chips for topping (1/3 cup)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 
For the crust, crush the graham crackers (approximately 8 crackers) and mix with sugar, cocoa and melted butter.  Using a cupcake pan with paper liners, press one and a half tablespoon into liners.   Sprinkle mini chocolate chip crusts on top of crust. 
In large bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream and peanut butter.  Mix in sweetened condensed milk, eggs and vanilla.  Mix in chocolate chips by hand. 
Fill paper liners 3/4 full with cheesecake mixture.  Sprinkle tops of cupcakes with remaining chocolate chips.  Bake in oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from pans and allow to cool on wire racks for one hour.  Cool in fridge for at least four hours before eating.