All year long, we build up our repertoire of chicken and meat dishes to prepare for Shabbos and yom tov. We have our go-to’s that please our guests and try a few new ones here and there. Once a year, however, we get to stretch our culinary muscles and venture into uncharted territory: dairy. Sure, we make mac & cheese and lasagna for our kids, and we’ve all had a bowl of French onion soup a time or two. However, this is an opportunity to make dishes with a little more pizzazz. Cheesecake is not something most of us whip up regularly. It’s decadent, creamy, and oh so good. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your cheesecake just right.
Use the right tools. A springform pan is best for making cheesecakes so that you can remove the delicate cake without it falling apart and the crust crumbling. Other types of cheesecakes that are more cakelike can be baked in other types of pans. Lining the pan with parchment paper will also help remove the cheesecake smoothly.
Room-temperature ingredients. If you bring your cream cheese and eggs to room temperature, it will improve the consistency of your cake. Leave ingredients out of the fridge for 30 minutes. The eggs will give you more volume and the cream cheese will be easier to blend.
Line it right. For a good crust, the melted butter should be incorporated well so that all the ingredients are moist and will stick together in the pan. Press the crust mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan and up the sides, taller than the filling so the cheesecake doesn’t spill over. Use a measuring cup to flatten the filling to an even level, or use your fingers and press firmly.
Filling. An electric mixer is best for beating ingredients together to create a fluffy filling. Make sure to blend thoroughly before adding eggs and other liquids so there are no lumps. Gently blend the eggs in without overbeating. This step is key, because overbeating your mixture will create air that will cause the cheesecake to puff when baking and then fall and crack. Spread filling evenly into pan with spatula.
Baking. Place the springform pan on a shallow baking pan to prevent leaking, or line with two layers of heavy-duty foil and place in a roasting pan filled halfway with boiling water to allow cake to cook more evenly. Bake cheesecake and check for doneness by shaking the pan gently to see if the filling is set. If it’s slightly jiggly and mostly set, it’s done. The center will set as it cools. Overbaking will cause the top to crack. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes before loosening it with a knife. Cool the cake on a wire rack in the pan another 30 minutes. After removing, chill at least 4 hours before serving.
Slicing. Using a non-serrated knife, slice each piece, dipping knife into hot water in between and wiping it clean with a paper towel. If the cheesecake has cracks, cover it with a thin layer of whipped cream or a chocolate ganache. Decorate with sliced fruit, berries, or chocolate curls. Store the cheesecake in the fridge covered in plastic wrap for up to three days. It can be stored in the freezer without toppings in plastic wrap, sealed in a freezer bag or airtight freezer container. v
Cheesecake With Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache
1½ cups graham-cracker crumbs
1 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup Nutella spread (or other chocolate hazelnut spread)
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
5 8-oz. packages cream cheese
1½ cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9” springform pan on bottom with parchment paper and spray interior of pan with nonstick spray. In a food processor, blend graham crackers till fine. Add sugar and butter and blend till combined. Pour filling into pan and press down with fingers or measuring cup. Bake for 8 minutes. Allow to cool.
Place Nutella into a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat right before cream comes to a boil and pour over Nutella. Whisk until smooth and stir in salt. Pour ⅓ cup of ganache over crust and place pan in refrigerator. Place remaining ganache in a container and place in the fridge for later.
Raise oven to 450°. In an electric mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Lower the mixer to medium and add eggs and yolks, scraping down sides of bowl in between. Put mixer on low and add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Pour mixture into crust. Place on foil-lined baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Lower oven to 225° and bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Turn oven off and leave door ajar, leaving cheesecake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven and allow to cool. Warm reserved ganache in microwave for 2–3 minutes. When cake is completely cooled, pour ganache on top and let it drip down the sides. Chill before serving.
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