Riffing on recipes
I’m not one to create recipes…I leave that up to the professionals. Oh, I can riff on existing recipes to be sure (with decidedly mixed results), but coming up with and relentlessly testing new ideas? No, thanks. Luckily for me there are many high quality food websites and blogs that I’ve come to rely on…King Arthur Flour, Epicurious, Sally’s Baking Addiction, Smitten Kitchen, and Dessert for Two are but a few sites that I‘ve used repeatedly (and quoted on this blog). With that said, I do like to adapt recipes to fit my whims (my post, The Great Bourbon Brownie Bake-Off Battle, being a recent example). So what to do when I come across two similar-but-different recipes? Well…I’ve mentioned before that there are monthly challenges put forth on Sally’s Baking Addiction Remember those chocolate cake pops in Pop to it? That was the February challenge. Last month’s challenge was croissants (I wrote about the adventure making those on this Outlander Cast post). This month it’s Classic Cheesecake…lovely, silky, smooth, decadently rich cheesecake (wiping the drool off the keyboard). Sally, in her usual thorough style, gave many tips and tricks to insure success. Coincidentally, another recipe for cheesecake came across my screen, Epicurious’ Lemon Curd Marbled Cheesecake. I love lemon curd and it’s so easy to make (here’s the recipe), so that’s the version of cheesecake I wanted to try. However, these two recipes differed in some ingredient amounts and directions. Since I had bought the ingredients to fit the Epicurious version, I decided that I would take up the gauntlet and bake Lemon Curd Marbled Cheesecake, but using Sally’s method. Challenge Accepted!
Note: the recipe below is my cobbled-together version of the two recipes…it’s the way I made this cheesecake, and my notes are in italics (as always). Check out the individual links to see the original recipes.
Lemon Curd Marbled Cheesecake
Yield: serves at least 12
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 9 hours, 45 minutes (includes chilling)
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 1/2 cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full sheet graham crackers)
- 5 Tbsp (70g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- Three 8oz blocks (678g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature (Sally’s recipe called for 4 blocks)
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (180g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature (Sally’s recipe called for 1 cup (240g))
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup lemon curd, preferably homemade
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter until combined. (You can also pulse it all together in the food processor.) Mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly (I didn’t have a measuring cup, so I used a straight sided glass tumbler). Pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a large piece of aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath in step 4. Allow crust to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
- Make the filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, and vanilla extract, then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as best you can.
- Prepare the simple water bath: Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough (I used 8 cups of water). As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan.
- Fill the crust: Pour two thirds of cream cheese filling into crust, then spoon half of lemon curd over filling and swirl curd into filling with a small knife. (Avoid touching crust with knife to prevent crumbs getting into filling.) Repeat with remaining filling and curd. Tap the pan gently on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles. Note: If you just want to make Classic Cheesecake, omit the lemon curd and pour the entire filling into the crust, smoothing it out with a small spatula.
- Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the pan and place in the oven. (Or you can place the roasting pan in the oven first, then pour the hot water in, whichever is easier for you). (Okay, here I differed in my procedure because I didn’t have a large enough roasting pan that fit my springform pan, so I used the method described in Tip#2 in Sally’s notes below)
- Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set (see my note about the baking temperature below). If you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven as it cools down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice. Serve cheesecake with desired toppings. Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make ahead tip: This cheesecake can be made the day before. It has to chill for quite some time before serving. Another way to make this cheesecake ahead of time is to freeze it. Cheesecake can be frozen up to 2 or 3 months. I find this tutorial for freezing cheesecakes helpful. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
Sally’s Recipe Notes:
- For fresh raspberry sauce: Combine 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (do not thaw if using frozen), 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture as it begins to cook, breaking up some of the raspberries as you stir. Once simmering, continue to stir and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and press through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Allow the thin raspberry sauce to cool completely before using. Store for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.
- A note on the water bath: Some readers have baked cheesecakes with a large pan of hot water on the rack beneath the baking cheesecake. In this manner, the cheesecake does not bake directly in a roasting pan of water. I have never tried this method, but many report back with great reviews! This is a wonderful alternative if you do not own a large roasting pan or are nervous about your springform pan leaking. Simply place a large baking pan filled with 1 inch of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven. (I used this method and it worked well)
- Why is everything at room temperature? Bring all cold ingredients to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients combine quickly and evenly, so you won’t risk over-mixing. Also, beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake batter, hardly the way you want to begin!
- Non-US readers: With the help of other non-US readers who do not have access to graham crackers, here is a basic crust recipe you can follow for a 9-inch springform pan. 250g digestive biscuits + 100g butter + no sugar. Grind the digestive biscuits into crumbs, melt the butter, and mix with the crumbs. Press into pan and pre-bake as directed in step 2. And from what I understand, spreadable cream cheese sold in a tub in countries outside of the US is a little different from the spreadable cream cheese in the US. It’s thicker, sturdier, and more solid and should be OK to make cheesecake. I have no experience with it, but this is what I’ve heard from other non-US readers.
A note about baking temperature: The recipe from Epicurious called for baking the cheesecake at 300°F, while Sally’s made no mention of reducing the oven temperature. I wanted to play it safe, so I went with the lower temperature initially, but after an hour the cheesecake didn’t seem to be done yet. I finally decided to increase the temperature to 325°F for another 20 minutes (checking after 10 minutes). It was done then but slightly cracked (though not badly), indicating that the cheesecake was probably overbaked. Next time I think I’ll keep the over temperature higher and bake the cheesecake for a shorter amount of time, which is why I didn’t note the temperature change in the directions above.
This cheesecake was just what I wanted…rich, dense (in a good way), not overly sweet with a lovely balance of tang from the lemon curd. The crust was perfect (packing it down really helped!), and it held up without being soggy. I brought the cheesecake to work to share and it was devoured in about 15 minutes (I managed to snag a piece to share with my family later). Even though the two recipes differed in minor ways, the frankin-recipe produced a finished product that was so yummy, I’m calling it a win. If you decide to go for cheesecake bliss, just tell me when to come over…I’ll bring the forks!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!