Saturday, November 30, 2013

New York Style Cheesecake- Wow!

I love New York Style cheesecake, but I had only heard horror stories of it sinking and cracking while baking, so I never had the courage to make it myself. Until this week. And am I glad I finally gave it a try as it turned out absolutely spectacular! True, I followed all directions closely, to avoid any failures but I was really rewarded for sticking to them. The cheesecake was picture-perfect and amazingly delicious: creamy, light and decadent! I hope you give this awesome recipe a go- it really isn't as challenging as it is usually made to sound.

The most important tips to remember:
  • use ingredients at room temperature
  • grease bottom and sides of pan to avoid cracking
  • do not overbeat
  • bake in water bath (read below)
  • do not overbake
  • allow enough time to cool in oven

Graham cracker crust:

  • 1-1/2 packed cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (about 12 cracker rectangles)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted; plus 1 teaspoon melted butter for the pan


  • 4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • cranberry-cointreau sauce (see below) 

Set out the ingredients:

At least 4 hours before you begin, set the cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream on your kitchen counter because it’s essential that the ingredients be at room temperature before you mix the batter.

Make the crust:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir in the 5 Tbs. melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Dump the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan that’s about 2-1/2 inches deep and press them firmly into the bottom and about halfway up the sides. Bake until the crust is fragrant and warm to the touch, 5 to 7 min.; it’s fine if the crust starts to look golden, but it shouldn’t brown too much. Let the pan cool on a rack while you prepare the cheesecake batter.

Make the cheesecake batter:

With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the sugar at medium-low speed until the mixture is smooth and somewhat fluffy, about 2 min. Scrape the bowl. On low speed, beat in the flour. One at a time, beat in the eggs on low speed, mixing the batter for only 15 to 20 seconds after each egg is added, just until it’s incorporated, and scraping the bowl each time. Don’t overbeat. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat at low speed until well combined, about 30 seconds. The batter should be smooth and have the consistency of a thick milkshake.

Bake the cake in a water bath:

Wrap the outside of the pan tightly with two sheets of extra-wide (18-inch) heavy-duty aluminum foil to make the pan waterproof. Brush the inside rim of the pan with a light coating of the remaining 1 tsp. melted butter, taking care not to disturb the crust.

Pour the batter into the prepared crust; it should cover the crust completely and come to within about 1/2 inch of the pan’s rim. Put the springform pan in a roasting pan and carefully pour hot water into the roasting pan until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake at 350°F, without opening the oven door for the first hour, until the top of the cake is golden brown and doesn’t wobble in the middle when the pan is nudged (a little jiggle is fine), about 1 hour 10 min. to 1 hour 15 min. (The cheesecake will be gooey in the middle; don’t worry, it will set as it cools.)

Let the cake cool:

After turning the oven off, leave cheesecake in the oven and crack oven door a little bit. Let cheesecake rest and gradually cool in the oven for about an hour.
Remove the cheesecake pan from the water bath, remove the foil wrapping (you may need an extra set of hands for this), and set the pan on a wire rack. Run a thin-bladed knife around the inside rim of the pan to free the cheesecake from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool on the rack until barely warm.
Refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours or overnight. The cheesecake will firm up during chilling.

I also made the Cranberry cointreau sauce but did not serve it on top, as was suggested in the original recipe since there were children at the party. Instead, I served it in a separate dish on the side so the grown-ups could help themselves to it as a garnish. The combination is truly delicious!

Cranberry-cointreau sauce:

  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 12-oz. package fresh cranberries, rinsed, dried, and picked over
  • 2 Tbs. Cointreau
In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, honey, and 3/4 cup water to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the cranberries. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the foam has turned fuchsia and many of the berries have popped, about 5 min. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the Cointreau. Pour into a heatproof bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours, but preferably overnight. The sauce can be made two days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Serve the cheesecake:

I decorated my cheesecake with small rosettes of whipped cream and cranberries on top of them. You could most certainly leave it plain. It is delicious either way! :)

Run a thin-bladed knife around the inside rim of the pan again—taking care not to disturb the crust—to loosen the chilled cheesecake. Unclasp and remove the side of the springform pan, and then use a wide spatula to transfer the cake to a serving plate.
Right before serving, use a slotted spoon to scoop the cranberries out of the syrup and let them drain briefly before spooning them onto the top of the cake. (Save the leftover syrup for pouring onto vanilla ice cream or mixing with seltzer to make cran-berry spritzers.)
Before slicing, rinse a long, thin-bladed knife under hot water. Wipe the blade between slices and rinse it under hot water again as needed.
Wrapped and refrigerated, the topped cheesecake will keep for a week.

I found this recipe here:  New York Style Cheesecake

Friday, November 29, 2013

Key Lime Pie

If you love citrus flavored desserts, this pie is the thing for you! It is unbelievably easy to make and with minimal effort, it looks- and tastes- like a gourmet dessert. It is out of this world delicious! There was not a single person at the party I brought it to that did not love it. Definitely going in my arsenal of quick, effortless and sublime desserts- for any time of year!

As a note of clarification, although the name of the pie is "key lime", you can most definitely make it with regular large limes. In my neck of the woods, it is rather hard to come by key limes, so "slight" substitutions have to be made when necessary. :) I assure you, although the taste may not be exactly the same as the original "key lime pie", it is not compromised one little bit by the use of regular limes. You will just have to trust me on this one. :) Now, go ahead and make it, so you can see what I am talking about!


  • 1-1/2 packed cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (about 12 cracker rectangles)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

  • Filling
  • 1 tbsp (heaping) lime zest
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For the crust:
Crush crackers in a food processor or Ziploc bag. Pour them into a bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter. Press into a pie pan and bake for 5 minutes or until golden and set. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. (Alternatively, as I did in this case since I was pressed for time, use a ready-made, store-bought graham cracker crust: it's not exactly the same, but works well when you are in a pinch.)

For the filling:
Mix lime zest, lime juice, and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Add in condensed milk and mix on high until smooth and thick. Pour mixture into crust and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour—more if possible.
Serve with sweetened whipped cream and more grated lime zest- it makes for a great presentation and adds an extra luscious level of creaminess and super yumminess. :) Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Pioneer Woman's Key Lime Pie recipe

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

This beautiful festive cranberry upside down cake is the ideal dessert for this holiday season. The fresh cranberries add delicious tartness balanced wonderfully with the caramel glaze and the rich, buttery taste of the cake. A great alternative to pumpkin desserts (which my family happens to hate :). 

5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) (70 grams) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (140 grams) light brown sugar
8 ounces (2 1/4 cups) (227 grams) fresh cranberries

Cake Batter:
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (or lemon juice)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter a 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pan.

Topping: Place the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking for a few more minutes until the sugar starts to brown (caramelize). Then remove from heat, and pour into your prepared cake pan. Sprinkle evenly with the fresh cranberries.

Cake Batter: In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the egg yolks and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture (in three additions), alternately with the milk (in two additions), ending with the dry ingredients. 
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar just until the whites hold a firm peak. With a large spatula gently fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter in two additions. Pour the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the top of the cake has browned and it just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and then invert the cake onto your serving plate. 

This cake is best served shortly after baking, while it's still warm. But leftovers can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat.

Makes about 8-10 servings.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Cake

When I saw this recipe posted on Facebook, I immediately thought, "This is perfect, I am sooo making it!". My son is the ultimate apple fan, eating an average of 3-4-5 apples each day, so apples are a staple in our kitchen. Plus, at this time of year, they are delicious! Whipping the cake together was a snap- it is a true one-bowl recipe. My cinnamon-loving family absolutely loved it! It makes a definite cinnamon statement and it's also very moist and full of apple flavor.

2 eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
6 medium apples (I used Red Delicious because this is what I had on hand)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, cinnamon and oil. Peel and slice the apples and add to mixture in bowl (coating as you go to keep apples from turning brown.) Mix together the baking soda and flour and add to the ingredients in the bowl. Mix well (best with a fork) until all of the flour is absorbed by the wet ingredients. Pour mixture into a greased one 9x13" or two 9″ round pans. Bake for approximately 55-60 minutes in 9x13" pan or about 30-35 minutes in 9" round pans, or until cake tests done. Cool on racks. Slice and enjoy! :)

Note: The batter for this cake is very dense (it initially freaked me out a little bit) but the apples release a lot of moisture during baking and it actually turns out really moist and utterly delicious!

Original recipe re-posted on Facebook:

Print recipe

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