Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Most Perfectest Cheesecake Ever in the History of Evermore

I’ve done it y’all. I’ve made a perfect cheesecake and been warned against changing the slightest thing.

At the first suggestion that I might play around with my new cheesecake recipe, one sister said “No” in a tone of voice that brooked no arguments. From anyone.

At the second suggestion (who am I to listen to my big sister all the time?), my dad said “it’s perfect as it is”. Now, since my dad has never told me I made any food perfectly in my life, I just might go to my grave without ever changing one milligram of an ingredient. I’m wishing I had temped the ingredients and written down the relative humidity the day that I baked the damn thing, because now I’m worried I’ll never recreate The Most Perfectest Cheesecake Ever. What happens if I can only make it in the winter, when the temperature and humidity are both below 70? That’s only, like, 2 months of the year around here! I could die if I don’t have cheesecake before then, and then where would my family be? They’d be left with just a memory, that’s what. Well, and the recipe so they can make it themselves. Maybe this cooking blog was a better idea than I realized.

Anyway, perfection comes with a price. In this case, that price is your general health. Since, I’ll be the first to sacrifice my health and longevity for a piece of cheesecake, don’t feel tempted to eat any yourself – I can take care of the whole thing. You and your arteries are welcome.

The morning after Christmas, the grocery section at Wal-Mart was out of anything but the full-fat cream cheese. Ditto on sour cream. I haven’t calculated the fat grams, and if you do, keep it to yourself, because those numbers are not welcome here.

As for the first ingredient: that is most assuredly NOT a typo. There are FORTY ounces – yes, FORTY (sorry, I can’t say that without yelling) ounces of cream cheese in this sucker.

The Most Perfectest Cheesecake Ever,
(stolen shamelessly from Recipezaar’s Bird- I added a crust, but that’s it, see the notes below for my nervousness while cooking).

  • 2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs and/or vanilla wafer crumbs (I used a combo this time)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 40 ( FORTY) oz cream cheese (5 8oz blocks), softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar (no Splenda this time, I went for broke)
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Preheat your oven to 375. The directions say to line the bottom of your spring form pan, but I made a crust and didn’t do that.

Lightly spray the bottom & sides of a 10” spring form pan with non stick butter-flavored spray.

Mix crumbs and sugar together in the pan. Make a well in the center and pour in melted butter.

Use a fork to toss and combine. Use a piece of wax paper to press the mixture onto the bottom and about one half inch up the sides of the pan.

Bake for 5 minutes – it will not be completely done. Put it in the freezer while you mix up the batter.

Now it gets serious.

I whipped up one block of cream cheese in my stand mixer, then added some sugar and whipped for a minute. Then I alternated the cream cheese and sugar until all of both were added, ending with sugar. I don’t know if it made a difference (the alternate choice being to dump in all the cream cheese and sugar at once), but dude – I’m not taking any chances of doing this differently. Scrape down the sides of the pan constantly while you’re mixing.

Add the sour cream and mix until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides while you’re mixing.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Scrape down the sides while you’re mixing.

Add lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Scrape down the…you got it now, right?

Pour the batter into the spring form pan and lightly drop it a half inch or so on the counter to force up the air bubbles. Do this about 10 times, turning slightly between each “drop”.

Place the cheesecake in a pan large enough to use as a hot water bath. Put the pan in the oven, and pour enough water in the pan to come up about an inch.

Bake for 30 minutes at 375, then reduce the temperature to 250 and bake for 2 (yes, TWO) more hours. Do not open the oven to check on it!

Remove from the oven and cool for about 45 minutes.

Put the cheesecake in the fridge and refrigerate for at least for hours, or overnight.

This sucker needs no topping, but if you must, I can’t stop you!


This is not a cheesecake to be made on a whim. I barely planned ahead, and I had just enough time to squeeze this out and get it in the fridge 4 hours before dinner. I’ll plan on making it a day ahead next time, or at least first thing in the morning.

When I took the cheesecake out of the oven, it was still pretty jiggly in the center. I was worried it would run all over the place, but it set up beautifully in the fridge.

Despite the fact that it has a whopping FORTY ounces of cream cheese, this was absolutely the lightest, fluffiest cheesecake I have ever made. I can’t explain, I can’t tell you why. Fools give you reasons, wise men never try. Or something like that. Wait, that song was about love, not cheesecake? Well, I say cheesecake IS love.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dark Chocolate-Espresso-Hazelnut (or Not) Chewies: A New Reason for Living

It's cookie baking season. That one special month when eating cookies is a requirement of happy living. Well, cookies or pies, but I baked cookies this weekend, so that's what we'll worry about. And I had my eye on these lovely bits of decadence, which of course means that I couldn't make such perfection without fracking up the ingredients.

So, first up: the chocolate. Measuring the chocolate in cups threw me - I usually go by ounces. I had a 3.5 ounce bar of 70% cocoa dark chocolate and a 4.4 oz bar of milk chocolate. I used all of the dark and half of the milk and called it a day.

Also, you know what is a most helpful ingredient when you want to bake cookies?


Yes, dear ones, I didn't check my baking cabinet before I started melting the chocolate, confident that the 5 pound bag of sugar I imagined in my head would be there.

Imagine my surprise when it wasn't. So I substituted Splenda and called it another day.

Also? Had to use decaf because The Professor has a definite reaction to caffeinated coffee - it's called "The Heart Bursting Problem" around here.

Then there's the fact that I'm not a huge fan of nuts in cookies. If they're good enough, I'll deal with it. So I made a few cookies before I mixed in the nuts - which was convenient because I only had 1/2 cup of chopped nuts - and I used macadamia instead of hazel because apparently the Big Brains at the grocery store (read: Wal-Mart) don't think anyone around here would be interested in hazelnuts.

And Holy Chocolate, Batman, these cookies were good! One of the top 5 of all time, for sure The batter was good, the cookies - even the ones with nuts! - are good, the rum-spiked eggnog was good...

The majority of these were destined to go home with The Bestest Friend. Next time: no nuts at all. They just interrupt all the chocolate goodness.

I only got 12 good-sized cookies out of this (I probably could have gotten 2 more out of the remaining batter, but I didn't want to dirty another pan and The Professor wanted to eat the batter, not the cookies, and I do try to make him happy every once in a while - which is what led to his heart going into sugar-overload making him think he was having a heart attack, which means I might kill him one day by making him happy. Maybe I should stop doing that?).
Anyway - I don't need 40 cookies laying around calling my name at 2 AM.

Not that they ever have or anything. Cause that would just be weird.

Dark Chocolate-Espresso-Hazelnut Chewies
1 3/4 c. dark chocolate of your choice
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. espresso grounds
1/4 c. AP flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 toasted chopped nuts. I like the hazel, but you can mix it up.

Bonus points for this being super-easy to put together:

Melt some chocolate:

Mix it into some other ingredients, and add some nuts:

Spoon, bake, cool:

And finally - eat.