Monday, July 30, 2012

National Cheesecake Day

That's right, today is National Cheesecake Day.  In honor of this very important holiday, I decided to make a cheesecake yesterday.

"Wait, you made a cheesecake the day before National Cheesecake Day?"

Why yes, that's right.  I made it the day before the day of celebration.  After all, it takes about 8-10 hours to make my cheesecake!  I typically use blackberries in my cheesecake, though it's much better with marionberries.  I've made it with raspberries too, but it wasn't nearly as good.  I made one without any berries for a friend of mine who is allergic to all berries (so sad!).  He wrapped and froze that thing, and he ate it over the course of a month.  He even hid it in his freezer when his family stopped by to visit.  He didn't share one bite!  Haha!  His name is remaining anonymous for fear of retaliation by his family members.  The cheesecake does magically taste better when it's frozen.  The wonderful berry flavor permeates! 

"Will you give us your cheesecake recipe?"

Ha!  No.  Even if I did, who amongst you would dedicate an entire day to making a cheesecake?  Wait?  No one?  That's what I thought.  I've given my recipe to a few friends who have asked, and I've never had anyone come back and say "I made it, and it was a hit!" ... because nobody's ever made it!  Let the record show that my dedication to food is pure and strong!

Yesterday afternoon when I finished mixing the cheesecake batter, I called out to my dude so he could come downstairs to lick the mixing blade.  I turned around, and he was already patiently and quietly waiting behind me like a cake batter ninja.  Very, very sneaky, sir!

At one of my old jobs, I had brought in some cheesecake to share with the office.  I offered some to our building maintenance guy since he was always helping us out with favors around the office.

After he took a bite, he said "Oh my god... that's a good cheesecake.  Now ... why are you still single?"  Haha!  It always makes me feel good to turn cheesecake non-believers when they say "I like that cheesecake!"  I certainly can relate.  Don't even get me started on the Melting Pot's cheesecake.  It's just so gross!

Alright, enough about my cheesecake.  Since I'm not going to share my recipe, it's time to talk about how you can make your cheesecake perfect!  First of all, no-bake cheesecakes don't count.  Sure, they're fine in their own right, and they come in handy when you don't have a lot of time or energy to invest into a cheesecake.  A true cheesecake is baked!

The two main elements to a good cheesecake are: temperature and a well-aerated batter.

First of all, you need to start off with all of your cold ingredients are at room temperature. That means the eggs, cream cheese, and anything else that would normally be in the fridge.  "Cool" doesn't count; it has to be room temperature.  Using a water bath is also a great way to ensure a proper temperature for your cheesecake.  I bake mine in a water bath for about an hour and a half at 325 degrees.  Then I turn the oven off, leave the door propped open, and I let it sit in the water bath inside the oven for an hour.  After that, I put it on a rack and let it cool to room temperature for a few hours.  Then it has to go into the fridge to chill for another 4 hours minimally.  When you follow these steps, it helps ensure that your cheesecake won't crack or cave in.  Cheesecake takes a lot of time to prepare!  I usually set aside at least 8 hours for my cheesecake, and that doesn't include refrigeration time. 

For a well-aerated batter, you have to make sure your cream cheese is nice and fluffy.  You have to be careful to not over-fluff it!  A good 4 minutes on medium speed is a good start.  Then add your sugar, and whip at medium for another 4 minutes.  When you add your eggs, whip at medium speed for a full minute after you add each egg.  Of course this largely depends on the ingredients you are using for your cheesecake.

All in all, today's cheesecake was a hit!  I wished I had a blow dryer to help get it out of the spring form pan for a smooth finish.  Of course it tasted just the same.  I'm just glad I came home with a leftover slice!

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