National Cheesecake Day

In honor of National Cheesecake Day, I’m reposting a post from my baking blog. I made this cheesecake back in May and I have to admit, it was dang good. I’ve been commissioned to bake another one in honor of my father’s 60th birthday, as well as his sister’s birthday.

By this point in life, I’d say I’m a semi-experienced baker to some degree. I’ve mastered the basics, but haven’t attempted more complex recipes like anything in the French/Italian pastries realm. I’ll leave that to the pros like the bakers at La Gourmandine in Pittsburgh or La Dolce Vita in Lancaster. Seriously. Their pastries are incredible. Go sometime if you ever have the chance. I’ve gone to both bakeries with my dear friend Kate and both are incredible places.  Anyway. I’ve baked enough, but not to that degree.

Something that is talked up to be difficult to bake is cheesecake. I’m not sure why everyone assumes it’s really hard to make because it’s not really that intricate. The one issue about cheesecake is that it takes a lot of cream cheese. But my mom had an abundance of whipped cream cheese and said I could try using that instead. I was a bit doubtful so I decided to make one yesterday.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.  I made a basic chocolate cheesecake because I was going to let my father judge it and he loves chocolate. “Now I don’t have to go spend $100 at Hershey Hotel for good cheesecake.” He takes chocolate cheesecake very seriously.  So yeah, I think I achieved my goal. I did use one pack of regular cream cheese and 2 containers of the whipped cream cheese. The cheesecake was a little lighter than if I had used all regular cream cheese, but I really liked it.

I used the recipe below and it was pretty easy to make. The most important thing to follow is baking time. Mine was in for 1 hour and 5 minutes and I think it could’ve gone a bit longer. But this morning it had settled like it’s supposed to and looked great. So maybe not.

New York Style Chocolate Cheesecake

 IMG_1276

1 1/2 cups graham crumbs OR chocolate cookie crumbs
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from inside of pod and reserved (I didn’t use any vanilla beans as they are super expensive)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
8 ounces melted semisweet chocolate, cooled slightly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (if using a silver springform pan, or 325 degrees F if using a dark nonstick springform pan). Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan. In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the butter and mix well. Press onto the bottom of springform pan and set aside. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, remaining cup of sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds and beat until light and creamy. Add the flour to the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and sour cream and mix well. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until just blended. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the center is almost set. Run a sharp knife around the rim of the pan and allow cake to cool on a wire rack before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. Cheesecake may be made up to 2 days in advance before serving and will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Emeril Lagasse knows his cheesecakes, that’s for sure. Original recipe found on Foodnetwork.com.

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