Baking 101: Cheesecake

I used to hate cream cheese. Thus, the only cheesecake I had ever baked before teaching Baking 101 was a banana cheesecake for an ex-boyfriend with a penchant for cheesecake.

That was a disaster best left untold.

Several versions of the cheesecake that we made in class may be considered sacrilege by true cheesecake devotees. But you know what? I don’t like cream cheese. So I consider it my prerogative to not use it the way I consider it my prerogative not to eat mushrooms unless they are cooked just right or to loop terrible, horribly popular viral songs while I write blog posts.

Several cheesecakes may have gotten slightly overcooked...

Notes

Oh, but you know what I hate more than cream cheese?? Sour cream. So we didn’t even use that in the “traditional” cheesecake. Because I am a diva.

We also had a fresh and juicy lime, so we used that instead of the traditional lemon juice and they turned out tangy with an extra whisper of almost key-lime-pie-y, margarita-y highlight.

Cheesecake #1 (Traditional)

Adapted from JoyofBaking.com

16 oz. full fat cream cheese, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lime juice (can use lemon)

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 tablespoon sugar

4 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

1) For crust: In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press a heaping tablespoon of crumbs onto the bottoms of the 12 muffin cups. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.

2) For filling: Beat the cream cheese on low speed until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and salt and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, lime juice, and greek yogurt and beat until incorporated. Remove the crusts from the refrigerator and evenly divide the filling among the 12 muffin cups.

3) Bake for about 18 -22 minutes or until firm, but the centers of the cheesecakes still wobble a little. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Let cool and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (a few hours or even overnight).

These cheesecakes can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for several days.

Yield: 12 individual cheesecakes.

*The steps for each recipe is pretty much the same, so the directions are not listed for the next two cheesecakes. For Cheesecake #2, cream the room temp cream cheese first before adding sugar, salt and greek yogurt. For Cheesecake #3, the greek yogurt does not need to be creamed. Simply add the sugar and salt and stir!

Cheesecake #2

 8 oz. full fat cream cheese, room temperature

8 oz. plain greek yogurt

2/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lime juice

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup crushed Fiber 1 cereal

1 tablespoon sugar

4 tablespoons butter

Cheesecake (Modified #3)

16 oz. plain greek yogurt, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup crushed Fiber 1 cereal

1 tablespoon sugar

4 tablespoons butter

Results

You must be asking: “But which is the winner??” Cheesecake #2 won by popular vote within the class, but my personal favorite must go to (surprise!) the cream cheese-less, all greek yogurt cheesecake. It still had that creamy, slightly gritty texture when sliced and the natural tanginess of the yogurt was only enhanced by the zippy lime.

AND the yogurt we used was nonfat! Do you know how much fat is in one brick of full-fat cream cheese? (APPROXIMATELY 72!!!!)


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