Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dread or Pride?

Did you make this? These words can bring dread to the heart of any chef. Recently I catered a rehearsal dinner at which the bride requested cheesecake for dessert. I have a great cheesecake recipe, one that closely resembles the cheesecake served at Lindy's (now closed) and Juniors, a Brooklyn landmark. But when that question was posed to me by one of the guests, I immediately wondered what ingredient I had left out of the recipe. I answered that yes indeed I made, not purchased, the cheesecakes and waited for the other shoe to drop. To my pleasure, and relief, she raved about it being the best cheesecake that she had ever tasted. I should have never second guessed myself. I knew that I had prepared a great product, but still those words "Did you make this?" were enough to...well you know what I mean.

Cheesecake

Crust
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 cup (about 6) crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, finely ground

Filling
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup cour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan.

To make crust, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add graham crackers crumbs and nuts and stir until mixed. Press the damp crumbs evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

To make the filling: With a mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft. Gradually add the sugar alternately with the eggs, beating on low speed just until smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla and gently mix until smooth. our the filling over crust and smooth top with a spatula.

Place pan on the middle rack of the oven. Set a large, flat baking dish containing 1-inch of water underneath the cheesecake. bake for 45 minutes (don't peek), or until set in the middle. Turn off the heat but leave the cake in the oven for 20 minutes longer. Remove to a rack and let it cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight before serving.

Source: Cooking USA, 50 Favorite Recipes from Across America