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Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Sinfully Delicious World of Cheesecakes

Let's talk about one of my most sinful weaknesses. CHEESECAKES!
When I decided to write about cheesecakes, I wanted to do a little research on the originality of cheesecakes. I never knew that there are so many varieties of cheesecakes. Depending on the regional and cultural background, making cheesecakes vary from ingredient to ingredient. But they all share one common factor...They are absolutely, positively and sinfully delicious!
Recently, I had the privilege to make several different types of cheesecakes. Some are time-consuming, (which makes it all the more delicious)  while others are quick and very simple. In this blog, I will share with my readers pictures and recipes of the cheesecakes from the past, present and future (no pictures yet for the future cheesecakes yet, they're slowing being developed in the darkroom).
Now cheesecakes go back as far  as Ancient Greece, the cakes were cooked to perfection in a hot fire under a brick. While the ingredients were mixed with a mortar and small cakes were served to Olympic athletes in 776 BC.
Then over the years, there has been several different recipes and this usually depends on the region in which the cake was baked, as well as the cultural background of the person baking it. For example; In Germany, the style is quite unique in it's own way. German cheesecake or Kaesekuchen usually uses Quark cheese, which adds a creamy texture without being baked. This cheesecake is said to "melt in your mouth". This is one of the many future cheesecakes that is on my list to make. I have found a very simple recipe that I will share next:

Crust: 
9 oz. flour
4 1/2 oz. butter, softened
pinch of salt
1 oz. sugar
2 egg yolks
2-3 tbsp. water

Filling:
1 lb. Quark
2 oz. butter, melted
4 1/2 oz. sugar
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 tbsp. vanilla
zest and juice of one lemon
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350.
In a bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Then cut in the butter. Add egg yolks and water. Knead with your hands until dough is smooth. Wrap dough in plastic and place in fridge for at least one hour. Grease 10 inch spring-form pan with butter. Roll out the dough and press into the bottom and sides firmly in the spring-form.
In a large bowl, mix together the Quark, sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest and juice and salt. Mix well until well blended, then mix in the melted butter. In a small bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla to stiff white peaks. Carefully fold the egg foam into the quark mixture. Pour filling into the spring-form and bake for 50-60 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and the filling should be set. Turn off the oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edge and open the spring-form.
Transfer cake to a plate or platter. Let cool completely before serving.
*Note: A good substitute for quark is low fat cottage cheese. Just place equal amount into a blender or processor and add just a little bit of milk. Process until it is very smooth.





In the picture above, is a Caramel Apple Cheesecake. Here is the recipe for this very delicious and rich cake.


1 (21 oz.) can apple fruit filling, divided
1 (9-inch) graham cracker crust
16 oz. Cream cheese, softened
½ c. sugar
½ tsp. Vanilla
2 eggs, room temp
½ c. Caramel topping

Preheat oven to 350.
Divide the fruit filling in half, setting aside one half and pour the other half onto the prepared pie crust.
Beat together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Mixing well with each addition. Pour over filling in piecrust. Bake for 35 minutes or until center is set. Cool.
Mix reserved filling with caramel topping in a saucepan and heat until topping is a little runny.
Arrange apple slices around outside edge of the cheesecake. Spoon caramel mixture into the center of the cheesecake and spread out towards the edges.
Refrigerate at least 6 hours until firm.




Here, I made a Red Velvet Cheese. This one takes some time to make, but in the end it is well worth it. Be prepare to be asked to make this more often.

Crust:
2 c. chocolate graham cracker crumbs
4 tsp. Brown sugar
¼ c. butter, softened

Red Velvet Filling:
24 oz. Cream cheese, softened
1 ½ c. sugar
4 eggs, room temp
3 tbsp. Unsweetened cocoa
1 c. sour cream
½ c. buttermilk
1 tbsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. White vinegar
2 oz. Red food coloring 

Topping:
4 oz. Cream cheese, softened
¼ c. butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla 

Strawberries or Mint leaves for garnishing. May use both.

 Mix together cracker crumbs and brown sugar. Add melted butter and press mixture into bottom and partway up the sides of a spring-form pan. Bake crust at 350 for 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar, beat until mixture is smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well with each addition. Add cocoa, sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar and red food coloring; continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly mixed. Pour filling into the prepared crust and bake at 325 for about 75 minutes or until the center looks almost set. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan. Cover and continue to chill in the fridge overnight (in the pan). Make topping by beating cream cheese and butter in a bowl until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Spread evenly over top of the cheesecake after being in the fridge overnight. Chill in fridge until topping is firm. Remove the spring-form pan and garnish and serve.


This here is my all-time favorite. Peanut Butter Cheesecake.

Crust:
1 ¼ c. graham cracker crumbs
¼ c. sugar
½ stick butter, melted

Peanut Butter Mixture:
½ c. peanut butter, creamy
2/3 c. powdered sugar
¼ c. brown sugar

Cream Cheese Filling:
16 oz. Cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
2 tbsp. Lemon juice
2 tsp. Vanilla
¼ c. heavy cream
2 large eggs, room temp

 Make crust by mixing graham cracker crumbs with sugar, then add melted butter and press into a 9-inch glass pie pan or a spring-form pan. Bake crust at 325 for about 8 minutes. While the crust is baking, make the peanut butter mixture. Using a fork cut in the powdered sugar into the peanut butter until balls formed. Then cut in the brown sugar. When crust is done, pour all but 2 tablespoons of the peanut butter mixture over the crust. Save the 2 tablespoons for garnish. Make the cream cheese filling by mixing the cream cheese with the sugar, heavy cream, lemon juice and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Beat for about 5 minutes. Pour filling over the peanut butter mixture and garnish the remaining 2 tablespoons of the peanut butter mixture, by sprinkling the mixture over the cheesecake. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes, or until center is about to set. Cool, then refrigerate for about 3 hours.



Here is something fun and unusual, Mini Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecakes.

Crust:
1 pkg. Nutter Butter cookies
1 tbsp. Sugar
7 tbsp. Butter, melted

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Batter:
16 oz. Cream cheese, softened 
½ c. creamy peanut butter 
2/3 c. sugar 
1 tsp. Vanilla 
1 tbsp. Flour 
1 egg yolk, room temp 
1 large egg, room temp 
3 tbsp. Heavy cream 

 Filling: Strawberry or Grape Jam. Do not use preserves. 

 To make the crust, grind up the pkg of Nutter Butter Cookies in a blender or processor. Pour into a bowl and add the sugar. Mix well, then add the melted butter. Make sure the entire cookie is coated. Line cupcake pan with paper liners. Put 1 tbsp. Of the crumb mixture into each cup and press down firmly. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and flour. Mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time mix well with each addition. Then add the cream and mix until smooth and well incorporated. Using a scoop, place a scoop of the peanut butter in each cup (about ½ way up the cup). Now spread the peanut butter evenly in the cup. Put 1 tbsp. Of jam on top of the peanut butter in the center, but do not spread the jam. Then add more of the peanut butter over the jam so that the jam is completely covered. Bake at 300 for about25-30 minutes or until cheesecake is set. Remove from the oven and place in the fridge pan and all to cool overnight. To decorate, make a peanut butter frosting (see recipe). Take a tsp. Of the frosting and put a dollop of it on top of the cheesecakes. Then chill until the frosting is set. Then dab a little of the jam on top of the frosting and serve.


Peanut Butter Frosting

1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. creamy peanut butter
7 tbsp. Butter, softened
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/3 c. heavy cream

Mix together the peanut butter, butter and vanilla at medium speed. Once the mixture is smooth and well blended, slow the mixer down and slowly add the powdered sugar. Once the sugar is incorporated, increase the speed of the mixer for about 1 minute. Then slow down the speed again, and add the cream. Once it is completely incorporated, increase speed and mix for a couple of minutes until mixture is smooth and creamy.

You can purchase my cookbook "The Sinful World Of Cheesecakes" at your online bookstore. You can also download my eBook "Cheesecakes Galore" at www.smashwords.com. Hope you will enjoy them as much as I written them. For you will find these and many more recipes for delicious cheesecakes.

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