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DEATH OF A CHEESECAKE

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By Kimara - Posted on 18 December 2007

            Once a traditionalist establishes a tradition, it takes an act of God, or at the very least, Congress, to get them to change. Kids in general are traditionalists. You have to be extremely careful of what you do with them, because they are quick to establish routines! Take my three year old granddaughter. When she was two years old, her father, an engineer, was doing a rotation on the afternoon shift. My daughter was pregnant with her third and spent many evenings at our house. One night we offered to bath the children before she took them home for bed. Moist pandemonium ensued as we bathed the children and wrapped them in their terry robes. When we came downstairs, they were allowed to curl up on the couch and watch a half an hour of television before going home. My then three year old grandson discovered a dvd of a 1950’s TV series called Commando Cody, Sky Marshall of the Universe. (Dead serious…this was given to us as a joke...wish I had regifted it…quickly!) It was an extremely cheesy show, with plenty of fake fights, and tacky special effects. But we consented and together we watched for two or three hours...okay, it was just 20 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity! I was assuming, or perhaps praying, that they would quickly tire of the black and white tedium. Much to my surprise they found it enthralling and a tradition was established! From that point on, after every bath, my granddaughter excitedly came downstairs, jumped on the couch, demanding to watch “the rocket man”. A bath at Gammy’s now meant an episode of the mind numbing Commando Cody. (BTW, I do not wish to offend anyone who finds Commando Cody as riveting as a three year old!) I am convinced, however, that whatever video we had watched after that first bath would have become her favorite bearing repeating over, and over, and over, and over, well, you get the idea!

 

            I would like to say I’ve outgrown my childish ways, but I suppose, I never have, and at this point, never will. I am quick to develop traditions, HOWEVER, like Commando Cody, not all bear repeating! A perfect example is our family’s Christmas Cheesecake recipe. I made this recipe the first year I was married. It turned out incredible! It was thick and creamy, with a hint of lemon, and aesthetically awe inspiring! Problem is…it NEVER again turned out that well! The recipe is tricky, requiring exact temperatures and ingredients. Perhaps ovens have changed over time, or the consistency of cream cheese, or the planets simply aren’t aligned properly, but whatever the case, the cheesecake is adequate…not spectacular! Don’t get me wrong, it’s always edible, even when you need a spoon to eat it, but it has never again reached perfection. Still, I continue to make it! Why, you may ask? And my obvious answer…because it is our traditional cheesecake! (Ah, finally, an explanation for fruitcake!) Probably the most insidious thing about this is I’ve tried to pass this tradition unto my children! Last year my daughter offered to make Christmas dessert. “Great”, I said, “As long as you make the traditional cheesecake.” So, she did…and vowed never to make it again!

 

            She’s offered to make Christmas dessert again this year. She’s even offered to make cheesecake. But today she asked, “Mom, do you mind if I try a new cheesecake recipe? I saw one on Alton Brown I would like to try.” My heart lunged! My cheesecake recipe! My dear, sweet, cheesecake recipe! No, I don’t want her to make a new one. I want her to make the old one…and figure out how to make it perfect! But, instead I said, “Sure. (gulp) That will be fine.” As hard as it is for me to admit it, sometimes you have to let go of traditions, or at least alter them. Still, one question remains...does this mean I have to wait 25 years before I can get rid of Commando Cody?!!

 

Traditions are wonderful! They inspire memories, instill a sense of belonging, and give us the predictive insight of a seer. But, just like that beloved old flannel nightgown that is being held together by fortitude, not fibers, sometimes we have to “pack them away”…not to be forgotten, but to allow new traditions to emerge.

 

 

SOUR CREAM CHRISTMAS CHEESECAKE

 

Okay…having said all that…truth of the matter is I’M NOT okay with ditching my cheesecake recipe! (Not a shocker!) Challenge…for all the bakers out there…when reading the recipe, does anyone have any suggestions on how we might save this recipe? (I suspect cooking method is a major issue.) If not, care to share your family’s TRIED AND TRUE recipe? Thanks!

 

Ingredients

Crust:

2 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

 

Filling:

5 packages (8 oz) soft cream cheese

3 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 egg yokes

1/2 cup sour cream

1 3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

5 eggs

1/4 cup heavy cream

 

Directions

1) Crust: Mix crumbs, sugar and butter together. Press mixture on bottom and sides of 9 inch spring form pan, building up sides of pan to form a rim all around. Refrigerate until needed.

 

2) Pre-heat oven to 500 F. Make filling in large bowl of electric mixer. Combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, lemon peel, and vanilla. Beat at high speed just to blend.

 

3) Beat in eggs and egg yokes, one at a time. Add cream, beating just until well combined. Pour into crust lined pan.

 

4) Bake 10 min. Do not open oven door. Reduce oven temp to 250 F. and bake 1 hour longer.

 

5) Spread top with sour cream. Let cool in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

 

6) To serve: With spatula, loosen crust from sides of pan. Remove side of spring form pan. Cut cheesecake into wedges. Nice with Strawberries.

       


One of my favorite delicacies is cheesecake and in this article, you have me blown away and sure thing will follow your recipe. - Marla Ahlgrimm

I guess the threat of being cast off scared the cheesecake recipe into behaving this year. I am happy to say that both of my cheesecakes turned out perfect! The only problem was that I left them both behind at our Christmas dinners and had no left overs at home to pick at. Probably for the best. Anyway, redemption... the recipe has been saved!

Tina, Thanks for Irene's cheesecake recipe and for the hysterical vision of you shaking the oven! I'm happy to report Michelle's cheesecake efforts this Christmas produced a perfect dessert! Yes, there was the crack down the middle, but none of the flavor fell out of it, so who cares?!! I do plan, however, to give Irene's cake a try the next time I need to bring a dessert somewhere. My stove is crammed pretty tight into its space, so I don't think I'll be able to utilize your "shake the oven" method, but I will keep the oven door closed til the end :) Glad you're enjoying the blog! I'm having a ton of fun writing it!

Kim, I'd hazard a guess that cooking method is not the issue actually, since I made Irene's tried-and-true cheesecake yesterday using a very similar method and it resulted in its usual amazing decadence. Her recipe is pretty similar to yours, although with some probably significant differences. The blog is very enjoyable to read! Thanks for sending the link in your Christmas card. How did the "Traditional" cheesecake turn out at Christmas? Here is Irene's recipe if you are interested in trying out something new one day. The key is to not open the oven door until it is done. I actually shook my entire stove to see if the middle jiggled too much, as opposed to opening the door to jiggle just the pan! LOL! I have made this cheesecake at least ten times and it is always perfect. Although sometimes it does do the "crack down the middle" thing. And of course, Irene has been making it for over 30 years!

IRENE'S CHEESECAKE

Crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp. grated orange rind
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup soft butter or margarine

Combine the above ingredients in a large mixer and blend to form a soft dough. Chill for 1 hour. Press on bottom and up sides of a 3” x 9” round, springform pan. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Make filling.

Filling:
5 8-oz packages of cream cheese
2-1/4 cups sugar
3 T. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. lemon rind
6 eggs (add one at a time)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour cream

Combine filling ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn oven down to 200 degrees and bake for one hour and 15 minutes. Cool away from drafts. Chill. Do not remove sides of pan until completely cool.

Thanks Missy for making the "traditional" cheesecake for our Christmas gathering 2007 :) When we don't have the opportunity to spend Christmas together I make it for our family and love it...even with it's occasional imperfections of a split top! Auntie B

Thanks, Miss!

Ah, it's nice to know the nut doesn't fall far from the tree! Seem's I've managed to instill a healthy (hmmm...healthy...psychotic) dose of traditionalism in my children. Anyway, I am delighted you are not ditching the cheesecake recipe. And you are right, no matter how it turns out, it is still yummy!

Ok, I can take a hint - or at least recognize a loud bellowing when I hear it! And in my defense I have made the Cheesecake at least 3x now (following the directions to a T with two different ovens) and every time the consistency turns out differently. I am willing to give it one more go. But another year with it puffing way up and then splitting the top all over and I am going to be forced to try another recipe!

I must admit... it really is one of the tastiest cheesecakes I've ever had... no matter what the consistency turns out to be and it ain't Christmas in our house without cheesecake.