Saturday, May 1, 2010

Say Cheese!

It's creamy, rich yet not too overpowering, light yet not airy. It was perfect. I only wish I had a topping to pour on this off white smooth-topped cheesecake.

I rarely do this (not out of aversion, but more out of laziness), but this time I did. At the doctor's office, I picked up a magazine, flipped through it, and a photo of a scrumptious cheesecake caught my eye. Without thinking, I quickly rummaged through my purse for a pen and notepad, and copied down the recipe.

The recipe remained on the bulletin board near my work station for weeks, a month maybe, before I actually did something about it. My Taleem classes and homeschooling left me little time to indulge in extra kitchen activities. But I had snared myself into the trap. I bought the cream cheese when we went shopping, and so, that morning, I took out the cream cheese boxes and left them on the counter so they could come to room temperature.

By the time they did though, I was too lazy, spent, and exhausted to make the darn cheesecake. I was about to put the cream cheese back in the fridge, when the kids offered to help. They must have really wanted that cheesecake. So, somewhat reluctantly, I agreed, and before long, I had kids crushing the graham crackers, melting butter, patting the crushed crackers mixed with butter onto the bottom of the pan and the rest was a breeze. Without these helping hands, I would have probably ditched my intention to make this cheesecake and used the cream cheese for eating with pita bread and graham crackers for snack.

I didn't use Philadelphia cream cheese though, but it still tasted delish. Why didn't I use it? I was being frugal. My only reason. I also used more than 6 graham crackers. I think I probably used about 10-12 graham crackers.

Philadelphia New York Cheesecake

6 graham crackers crushed (I dumped about 10-12 graham crackers in a bowl and handed my kids a pestle and told them to crush them crackers to bits)
1 C sugar
3 Tbs sugar (keep this separate for the crust)
3 Tbs butter, melted (courtesy of one of the kids. I forgot which one)
5 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened (that basically means, you leave it at room temperature)
3 Tbs flour
1 Tbs vanilla
1 C sour cream (at room temperature)
4 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Prepare a 13x9 rectangular pan (if you have one with a removable bottom, that would be even better). No need to butter the pan.
2. Combine crushed graham crackers with 3 Tbs sugar and melted butter
3. Dump this mixture into the pan, and using the bottom of a measuring cup or hand slipped in small ziploc, press it so it forms an even crust in the pan. No need to push it up the sides. Just cover the bottom.
4. Bake 10 minutes. Cool.
5. At low to medium speed, cream cream cheese, sugar (the 1 C), flour and vanilla till smooth
6. Add sour cream and continue mixing
7. On low speed, add eggs one at a time, beating till smooth after each. Do NOT overbeat.
8. Bake 40 minutes or till the center almost sets. I usually do a jiggle test. I hold the pan and slightly shake it. If the center jiggles like jelly but doesn't slosh over, it's done.
9. Cool completely
10. Refrigerate 4 hours (and this was where the kids groaned. After all the helping they did, I guess they had a right to groan like they did.)

But it's definitely worth it.