Monday, 16 March 2015

Lemon-y Vanilla Cheesecake

My whole life, I have never really liked cheesecake. I couldn't stand the taste of cream cheese, and since that is the main ingredient in cheesecake, it really puts a damper on enjoying it. However, over this past holiday season, there was a lot of the stuff around, and I thought I'd give it another try. I've been trying to really expand my food world lately, and since everyone else seems to love cheesecake (and to think I was crazy for not liking it), it was near the top of my list for trying.

So, over Christmas I tried all of the cheesecakes. Seriously. Every where I went there was a different type of cheesecake, so I just tried them all. And all of them were pretty freaking delicious. So, with my new found appreciation of this classic dessert, the next logical step was to figure out how to make one of my own.

I found the "base" recipe for the cheesecake while searching Pinterest - obviously. The one I chose to make came from Tide and Thyme; I made a few little tweaks here and there, and the end product turned out amazing!

30 graham squares, finely ground
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 8-ounce blocks of light cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups non-fat sour cream
Zest from half a lemon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F.

1. Grind graham crackers using a food processor; depending on the size of your processor, you may need to grind in batches (e.g., 10 cracker squares at a time).
2. Melt the butter, either in the microwave or in a pan on the stove top; I find it is less messy to use the stove top method.
3. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until evenly moistened.
4. Prepare your springform pan by lightly coating the bottom and sides with cooking spray.
5. Pour crust mixture into pan. Using a glass with a smooth bottom, gently spread the crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan, and at least 1 inch up the sides. Keep crust in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

1. In a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer, mix softened cream cheese on low speed for at least one minute, until it is smooth and lump-free.
2. One at a time, add eggs to cream cheese. Mix until eggs are well combined.
3. Gradually add sugar to the mixture, and beat until well combined and creamy. You should not be able to see any sugar granules in the mixture.
4. Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla to cheese mixture. You may periodically need to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until well combined and smooth.
5. Pour mixture into chilled crust. Gently shake pan to even out filling; smooth the top of filling with a spatula if necessary.

Bake cheesecake in preheated oven for 1 - 1.5 hours. Cheesecake is done when top is no loner wet, but cake still "jiggles" a little in the center. I made this cake without using a water bath, as I don't have a roasting pan large enough to set the springform pan inside; my cake turned out amazing, but it did take a bit longer to cook than if you use a water bath.

Once cheesecake is cooked, remove from oven and let cool in pan for at least 30 minutes. Place cake, still in pan, in refrigerator to continue cooling for at least 4 hours; cake should be loosely covered while in refrigerator. After cake is completely cooled, remove from springform pan by gently running a knife or spatula around the edges; remove cake from pan and store on a cake plate.


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