Cheesecake: trying a new recipe

June 26, 2014

One good thing about baking regularly is that over time, you develop flavor instincts. Sometimes you see a recipe and right off the bat you know that adding something else to it, like for example cacao nibs or chocolate, will enhance the flavors of the cake. Similarly, when you see too much of an ingredient, you know that it is in fact too much and adjust accordingly.

Last night, I was baking cheesecake. I always bake cheesecake at night so it can have its own sweet time to rest in the fridge overnight to develop the flavors. The recipe was enough for just a 6-inch cake and the recipe for the crust called for 1 teaspoon of salt. At the back of my mind, I kind of knew that that was too much salt for a small cake but I still followed the recipe. You know what they say, baking is a science and every recipe should be followed to a "T". Well, I should've gone with my instincts because when I tasted the cheesecake this morning, the salt was very much prevalent and it overshadowed the nice buttery, crispy texture of the crust. It wasn't ruined, in fact I enjoyed my slice of cheesecake but I knew that it would've tasted even better had I followed my gut.

Anyway, this is the lightest cheesecake I've baked so far. All the recipes I've tried before were very rich and dense. This is light and fluffy and not cloying at all. You can eat the entire cake in one sitting without choking. But this is also the first cheesecake that browned at the top. All my cheesecakes before had smooth, shiny tops, save for a few popped air bubbles. The top also collapsed on this one. Next time, I'll cover the pan with foil so there won't be any discoloration.

Cheesecakes were the first things I learned how to bake (even before cookies) because they were M's first request. I won't be posting the recipe for this yet because I still have to tweak it but for now, here's the recipe of the first ever baked cheesecake that I made. This recipe is richer and denser but equally delicious.

Simply Sinful Cheesecake
Recipe from Dessert Comes First, makes one 9-inch cheesecake
  • 2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
  • 2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 3 eggs
  • juice of 2 calamansi or 2 tsps. lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine crumbs, sugar, and margarine/butter; press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. With mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs and calamansi or lemon juice. Mix well.
  4. Pour into prepared pan — it doesn’t matter if crust is still warm. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until center is slightly jiggly but perimeter is set. Cool 1 hour. Chill at least 4 hours to let flavors develop. Will keep in refrigerator for two weeks (but do you really think it will last that long?)

As added bonus, here are some bits and tips I've learned along the way for making cheesecakes:

  1. Baked cheesecakes taste better than no-bake cheesecakes. Way better. Their flavors are richer, more complex, and more decadent than their no-bake counterparts, there is simply no contest. No-bake cheesecakes tend to have a flat flavor profile and their crust just does not compare.

  2. Cheesecakes can be intimidating to make but they're pretty easy - there are only a few ingredients and only a few steps. So have no fear and just do it!

  3. The only two things you need to watch out for are: 1) the batter's consistency, and 2) baking time.

  4. The batter has to be very, very, very smooth before you add the eggs. So mix, mix, mix until all the lumps of cream cheese are gone.

  5. Mix the eggs one at a time just until incorporated. Do not overmix!

  6. Use a baine marie or water bath when baking. You can do away with a water bath (like the recipe above) but if you want your cheesecake to look nicer, stick with the water bath. For the recipe above, bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes using a water bath or just until the center is slightly jiggly.

And that's it. Happy cheesecaking!

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