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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

happy birthday cheesecake

cheesecake with strawberries

Yesterday was A's birthday, so I knew his "Mama Lynn" would be making him his favorite chocolate kahlua cheesecake to celebrate. Of course there's no way I wasn't going to make him a dessert myself, I just had to do something different (and a day early). I decided to make a standard cheesecake with lots of strawberries and sauce on top, as "refreshing" as a cheesecake can possibly be. I found an Emeril recipe that I took some pointers from as well -- like adding lemon and orange zest, and a splash of bourbon. Other than that, the ratios of sugar to cream cheese, how to make the crust, etc are based on the chocolate cheesecake. It was delicious - and poor A now has to choose between 2 types of birthday cheesecake every night this week.

Grocery list: 24 ounces cream cheese, 1 orange, 1 lemon, splash of bourbon or scotch, 1 package graham crackers, butter, sugar, 5 eggs, sour cream, vanilla.

graham cracker crust

Start with the crust - preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and crush 1 - 1.5 cups of graham crackers. Mix with 3 T of melted butter and 2 T of granulated sugar, and press into the bottom of a spring form pan. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes, then bake for 8 minutes. Lower the oven temp to 350 degrees.

cheesecake base

To make the filling, start with 3 packages of softened cream cheese (I use lower fat neufchatel). With a hand mixer, blend 1 cup of granulated sugar into the cream cheese. Add the zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange, plus 1 T of vanilla and blend until smooth. Next, add the eggs one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, stir in 1 T of bourbon and 1/2 cup of sour cream.

baking cheesecake

Pour the filling into the prepared crust (depending on how much you trust your spring form pan to be nonstick, you may want to grease the sides of the pan with more butter). Place the pan inside a large roasting pan, and fill the roasting pan with water until it's about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

finished cheesecake

Carefully remove the cheesecake pan from the hot water, and allow to cool to room temperature for an hour or 2, then place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. I sliced fresh strawberries and poured 1/4 cup sugar over them, so that plenty of syrup was released. I also made some fresh whipped cream (3/4 c whipping cream + 4 T of powdered sugar, whipped with a hand mixer for 3-4 minutes).

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