I agree that for some reason we love to try new recipes when we have guests over but I think that being adventurous is what the kitchen is all about. You are a great cook and you know it so just be sure of yourself and I am sure your innovations and your trials will reflect that! Also, hosting people for dinner is not only about the food! Its about the company, the conversation, and about what you eat! Just ask your guests for feedback…. make them a part of your process.
A loves cheesecake.
So about two weeks ago, I secretly bought the ingredients without him knowing about it and I decided to make cheesecake. I was not a big fan of cheesecake, I am not sure why. Maybe it was because my cheesecake connection is with the Cheesecake Factory, the restaurant that you wait a very long time to get seated at and you eat enormous plates of food, you do get good bread, and you never get to eat the cheesecake because you are too full! At least that has been my experience. And not only are you too full, but the pieces they serve you are also really big. Therefore, I never eat it there and I never want to order cheesecake. I am not 100% sure that this is the reason I did not like cheesecake. I think it also has to do with the consistency and its competition with chocolate. What can I do, chocolate always wins my heart.
Now a few weeks ago I made a promise, which you and all our readers are witnesses to. I promised to expand my dessert horizons and experiment with other desserts that are not chocolate. So I made cheesecake inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s NY Cheesecake post. Her cheesecake looked so good and so beautiful that it made me want to try it myself.
Mati, it came out so spectacular that I now LOVE cheesecake, and I plan to keep on exploring different cheesecake recipes… next one up is Oreo Cheesecake. The consistency did not bother me at all and I actually love the crust. But who would not? It is graham crackers , sugar, and butter.
So here is how you master the art of cheesecaking. (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
8 ounces (15 4 3/4 x 2 1/2-inch sheets of graham crackers) finely ground graham crackers or cookies such as chocolate or vanilla wafers
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Finely grated lemon zest
Finely grated orange zest
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Make crumb crust: Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and up the sides, stopping one inch shy of the top rim**, of a buttered 9 1/2-inch (or 24 cm) spring form pan. You can fill it right away but I like to pop my into the freezer so it quickly sets while I prepare the filling.
Make very tall cheesecake filling: Preheat oven to 550 degrees (yes, this is correct). Beat together cream cheese, sugar, flour and zest with an electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla, then eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated. Scrape bowl down between additions.
Put spring form pan with crust in a shallow baking pan (to catch drips). Pour filling into crust (springform pan will be completely full) and baking in baking pan in the middle of the oven for 12 minutes or until puffed. Watch your cake because some ovens will top-brown very quickly and if yours does too fast, turn the oven down as soon as you catch it. Reduce the temperature to 200 degrees and continue baking until cake is mostly firm (center will still be slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken), about one hour more.
Run a knife around the top edge of the cake to loosen it and cool the cake completely in spring form on a rack, then chill it, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.
You can make it ahead of time: Cheesecake keeps, covered and chilled, 2 weeks.
***You have to be very careful when the cheesecake is baking so that it does not burn. Mine had little evidence that it was starting to burn but I was able to save it on time! Another thing that I learned was that you HAVE to finely grate the orange and lemon zest because if not you are going to be eating cheesecake with ‘big’ pieces of zest in it. I did not mind it but grating the zest finely will help it achieve perfection.