Say cheesecake!

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When cream cheese goes on sale at the Teeter, I can't help but buy four blocks. Why four? Four is the necessary amount blocks to make a big, honkin', at least 10-pound cheesecake.

For me, a good cheesecake is defined by a crushed cookie or cracker crust, a creamy baked middle, and THICK tall slices – no puny slices allowed. And none of that no-bake stuff either. If you are gonna make cheesecake, might as well go big or go home.

Cheesecakes are finicky things. One of the challenges of making a cheesecake is getting a smooth top. In the baking and cooling process, cheesecakes tend to split down the middle like the Grand Canyon, leaving it to you to come up with a creative idea to hide the crack. Also, it tough to achieve a creamy silky cake – sometimes they come out thick and dry. Some recipes require water baths, leaving the cake sitting in the oven for hours, sour cream topping, pre-baking the crust, etc. Blech, who has time for that?

Well, here is a simple, straight-forward recipe that yields a tall, creamy cake that comes out crack-free.

This plain vanilla cheesecake has a gingersnap crust and a blueberry lemon topping. Strangely, it's the easiest cheesecake recipe I've made and the results are the best yet. For a more traditional cake, feel free to substitute in graham crackers for the crust or to use canned cherry topping.

cheesecake

Perfect New York Cheesecake

Ingredients:

2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies

2 tablespoons butter, melted

4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese (room temperature)

1 1/2 cups white sugar

3/4 cup milk

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 inch springform pan.

2. In a medium bowl, mix cookie crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom and sides of springform pan. (Tip: Use the bottom of a glass to press and flatten the crumbs in tight.)

3. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. (Tip: I use the paddle attachment on my Kitchen-Aid, not the wire beater. Also, don't mix too furiously. Beating in too much air contributes to collapsing, cracking, and a ruins the dense texture you are trying to achieve.) Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 1 to 2 hours; this prevents cracking. Chill in refrigerator until serving. Top with blueberry topping if desired.

Blueberry Lemon Topping

1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

1/4 sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in a few tablespoons cold water

Boil blueberries, sugar and water until blueberries soften. Add in enough of the cornstarch mixture to thicken topping to desired consistency.


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