Friday, April 1, 2011

Carious: Cheeeeeesecake

I remember the first time I had a cheesecake..

Actually I don't.

I just didn't know how to start off this post.

Ok actually I do.

No really, I do. The very first cheesecake I had was a Japanese cotton soft cheesecake when I was 6.

It was from Fiesta, and it had that signature moo moo on it. I still remember the restaurant outlet that used to be at Parkway Parade at the basement, a little open concept place right next to the foodcourt, where the current Coffee Bean, Subway and Sakuraya place is.

I admit, I wasn't blown away. There were no frosting, there were no layers, there were only that caramelized layer of baked crust on the top with the cow that got my rockets on. I remember scraping every inch of the top and then sharing the plain looking yellow cheesecake with the rest of the family. Oh how they stared at me. Right then, I thought I would never love cheesecake.

Then when I was 7, my mom came back from the United States and bought back this little triangular slice of cheesecake from a little bistro she had dinner at before going to the airport. After my first mouthful of that golden goodness, I knew I was in the presence of greatness. Thick, creamy, velvet greatness.

Ok I may have gotten the age stuff wrong but the story of How I Met My Cheesecake still holds true alright! Gah. Pedants.

Anyway, a good Sour Cream cheesecake has to be thick, velvety, and moist. And these are all reproduced by this one awesome recipe that I'll share with you guys. Because I am awesome, and I want the world to be fat loved. This recipe produces such a lovely batter and cake that my housemate and I could just clean out the bowl with our fingers.

"Use your fingers, and get in there. You guys need the proprioceptive value!" - certain prostheses tutor.


There are mainly 2 types of cheesecake. Baked and no-bake. Baked cheesecake are mixed with eggs, natural coagulating agents and are baked to cook the eggs so that the cheesecake will firm up. No-bake cheesecakes are held by gelatin, which upon cooling forms a gelatinous structure which holds the cake together. Different places in the world have different variations of cheesecake as well. Some examples include New York (made with cream), Sour Cream (sour cream, duh), Italian (made with honey and ricotta), Dutch/Belgian (made with melted chocolate! *gasp) and Asian (with tropical fruits and often a cotton sponge texture).

From Wikipedia of course!

Original recipe from here!

I must credit Kelly for this recipe. She gave me this life changing link. Thank you! =D

For the following pictures, I halved the recipe to make 12 cheesecaklets.

15 graham crackers, crushed
100g unsalted butter, melted

2 packages cream cheese (500g) at room temperature
3/4 cups white sugar
3/8 cup milk (slightly under half?)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup all-purpose flour

I must confess that the halving of the batter recipe (I didn't halve the crust) to make small cakelets did not produce as divine a cake as a whole recipe in a 9" springform tray. The crust to cheese ratio just wasn't as sensational but nonetheless still a pretty awesome cake.

Preheat the oven at 170 deg C. Pour the butter into the crushed biscuits and stir it up until everything is moistened with butter.

Oil the sides of the pan generously. I used the remaining butter on the bowl. Saves a lot of washing! =D This step is especially important because cheesecake tends to stick to the sides of the pan and upon cooling, creates undesirable cracks on the cake surface. Another precaution that you can take is to line the inside with baking paper.

Press the crushed biscuit-butter mixture firmly unto the base with your fingers. "Use your fingers, and get in there. You guys need the proprioceptive value!" Don't forget to give them a good lick! You may chill the crust while mixing the batter but I just left them out there. Probably distracted by the buttery fingers. =\

Put the cheese and sugar into a nice clean big bowl. And take out a secret weapon.

The Fork.

Oh yeah. Let's rock and roll my friends.

It's a nifty little trick suggested by the people giving reviews. This will prevent you from overbeating and incorporating too much air into the batter, which will cause the resultant cake to have cracks on the surface.

Mix it until the sugar is incorporated and there are no lumps.

Then, mix in the milk until incorporated. Then, mix in the eggs one by one, after each one is incorporated into the batter. Yes yes I didn't take pictures of those stages. Was busy nicking the peaches in the corner while my housemate mixed the batter up.

Pictorial evidence.

The batter should be smooth after all the mixing.

In goes sour cream.

Vanilla and flour.

Then fold in the peaches. Yeah, about 1/3 cup here. Just wanted to fruit things up a little..

Yeah those are the hands of my housemate, who mixes really good cheesecake batters. Really, I haven't even come close. =(

Good ol finger test. Check. And bake for 1 hour with either a bowl of water beside it, or a tray of water below it (i.e. water bath!). No more, no less. It wouldn't firm up like other cakes and survive the customary poke of the stick. Just turn off the oven after 1 hour and let it sit and cool down for about 2 hours. The cake will continue cooking after 1 hour as well due to the residual heat. Then, chill the cake for at least 5 hours to ensure that it has properly set.

Thats my housemate again. Did I tell you he is a brilliant mixer?

The whole recipe in its glory. We first made the cake for a friend's birthday. And it was a showstopper. I don't even remember whose birthday it was anymore... Ok I'm kidding. =X

Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D

The cheesecake will expand upon heating and shrink upon cooling. It is a dense cake and doesn't have the sponge texture of other cakes to provide for the expansion and contraction. As such, the cake WILL CRACK if both processes are not factored in.

1) Avoid overmixing the batter and playing with it excessively as it will introduce air into the batter. Use The Secret Weapon!

2) Oil the sides of the pan generously and put oiled baking paper if you want to.

3) The water bath is to ensure even distribution of the heat throughout the oven. Often, steam is created.

4) Stop at 1 hour! Don't overbake it because it'll will turn dry and incredibly crumbly.

5) Hold your horses and CHILL IT before eating it. I know it is difficult, trust me. I've been dragged away from the fridge bawling before. But its for your own good.

6) Remember the crust to cheese ratio. More cheese is good. Repeat after me. More cheese is good. More cheese is good. More cheese is good.

7) Clean the mixing bowl with your fingers. Don't let any batter touch the sink. It's blasphemous. The God of Cheesecake will get you one day.

I dressed it with sliced peaches, mint leaves and raspberry coulis. Sigh. Wish I still had more of these lil fellas around. =(

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