Cheesecake: The Dessert of Unity

I’m pretty sure that I mention this every April, but it’s BIRTHDAY MONTH (for another few hours anyway)! And while there are multiple people to celebrate, I only made a few desserts this time around.

We kicked off the April celebrations with dinner at one of our favorite places. We filled up on appetizers (alligator bites and cheese curds), drinks (coffee brown ale and vanilla stout), and dinner (burgers for Andy and me, of course). And while I’m sure Stone Arch serves a decent dessert, there was no way I could have eaten anything else by the time we were done with our meal. Plus, I knew that there was cheesecake waiting for us at home.

I’d been monopolizing the library’s copy of “Just Add Sauce,” and what I really wanted to make was the chocolate-caramel pecan pie from the book. However, it has peanut butter in it, and Arron, for whatever reason doesn’t like peanut butter. Weirdo… And then there’s Josiah, who claims to “not like dessert.” Also a weirdo. However, both of them love cheesecake, so when I saw a cheesecake recipe in the back of Just Add Sauce, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. (My other choice was going to be the New York style cheesecake from Cook’s Illustrated, but it looked like a much bigger project, and I didn’t have time to tackle that one.) 

This cheesecake was pretty easy to put together (everything gets made in the food processor!), and because ATK includes weights, I was able to use minimal measuring cups. It took a while to bake and cool, which kept me up later than I would have liked, but the results were well worth it. There were no unsightly cracks in the top of my cheesecake, and it had a rich, creamy texture. We all loved it. In fact, Andy liked it so much that he licked both his plate AND Josiah’s plate clean. The dessert of unity, indeed. 😀

CheesecakewithBBcoulis
Minimal effort went into these pictures. We all just wanted to eat cheesecake. 
JustAddSauceCheesecake
No cracks, and just a few bubbles! It’s a looker for sure. 

Cheesecake with Blueberry Cinnamon Coulis

For the crust: 
6 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces
2 1/3 ounces sugar
2 1/2 ounces AP flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake: 
2 pounds cream cheese
8 3/4 ounces sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the coulis:
15 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup water
5 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make the coulis: 
Combine the berries, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the berries are heated through.

Use an immersion blender to process the mixture until it’s smooth. Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl and strain the blueberry sauce through the strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much puree as possible. Stir the lemon juice into the strained puree. Taste the mixture and adjust with additional sugar if needed. (I didn’t think mine needed any extra sugar.) Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least an hour. Stir to recombine before serving, and if necessary, thin with water before serving. (I also didn’t need to thin mine out.) 

 

To make the cheesecake: 
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 325°. Grease a 9″ springform pan.

In a food processor, combine the graham cracker pieces and the sugar for the crust. Process until the graham crackers are finely ground, which should take about 30 seconds. Add the flour and the salt, and pulse a few times to combine. Then, add the melted butter to the bowl and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened, about 10 pulses.

Spread the crumb mixture in the bottom of the springform pan. Use the bottom of a dry measuring cup, firmly press the crust into the pan. Bake until the crust is fragrant and begins to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool completely. (This will take longer than you expect. Trust me. I put it on the front porch to help speed things up.) Reduce the oven temperature to 250°.

When the crust is almost cool, make the filling. In a clean, dry food processor bowl (yep, you need to wash it between steps), process the cream cheese and the sugar until it is smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the  bowl as necessary. With the food processor running, add the eggs, one at a time, until they are just incorporated, which should take about another 30 seconds. (I found it helpful to crack the eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl so I could easily transfer them to the food processor while it was running. If I tried cracking them into the food processor, I figured I’d get shells in my cheesecake!) Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the cream, sour cream, and vanilla. Process to combine, about 30 seconds.

Pour the cheesecake mixture onto the cooled crust, and then gently tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Use the tines of a fork to gently pop any bubbles that rise to the surface.

Make sure that your oven is at 250°, and then place the cheesecake on the middle rack. Bake the cheesecake until the edges are set and the center jiggles slightly when shaken. If you have an instant-read thermometer, the internal temperature should register 155°. The bake time will probably be somewhere between 1 hour and 20 minute and 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool completely, about two hours. Refrigerate the cheesecake until completely cold, at least six hours. (Mine was in the fridge for about 20 hours.) 

To remove the cheesecake from the springform pan, run a paring knife between the edge  of the cake and the side of the pan. Then, unclamp the ring and remove the sides of the pan. Slide a thin, metal spatula (I used my large offset spatula here) between the crust and the bottom of the pan to loosen it, and then slide the cheesecake onto a serving platter.

Before serving, let the cheesecake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Use a warm, dry knife to cleanly slice the cheesecake into wedges. Serve with the coulis. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

From Just Add Sauce

Click here for a printable version.

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