Saturday, 1 September 2012

New York Cheesecake

   It has always surprised me that cheesecake has such popularity in this country, when quite frankly I have never tasted a cheesecake worth remembering. I think the problem is that a lot of our food has become Americanised , but we can never recreate American food properly, our burgers are always shockingly bad and the cheesecakes are mass manufactured and lacklustre at best. I have terrible memories of frozen cheesecakes from certain place, named after a country and apparently "mums shop there". The toppings are always gloopey tinned fruit and the cheesecake is usually no higher than a pancake. I'm sure that what we class as cheesecake in this country is an insult to the original. New york cheesecake is a very dense, egg rich cake that helps create the smooth, fudgey texture. I'm sure throughout America cheesecakes vary from region to region and cheesecakes will vary from country to country, but this is my take on a classic, with a little twist at the end that is purely optional.

You will need:
For the filling
6 large eggs
1 vanilla pod, split open with the seeds scraped out
900g soft cheese (the cheaper the better)
300ml sour cream
300ml double cream
the zest and juice of a lemon
3 tablespoons of flour
300g of caster sugar

For the base
75g of ginger nut biscuits crushed to a powder
200g of digestive biscuits crushed to a powder
50g caster sugar
a large pinch of salt
2 tablespoon of toasted ground rice or corn meal
100g of melted butter

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Line a 9 inch spring form cake tin with a disc of greaseproof paper in the bottom.
In a food processor blend the biscuits, salt,sugar, melted butter and ground toasted rice (all you have to do is toast a couple of tablespoons of white rice in a dry frying pan and grind in a pestle and mortar), the rice absorbs any moisture so the base remains crisp. Pour the crumb mixture into the cake pan and press down to create a layer in the bottom and begin to work the rest of the crumbs up the side. Bake this in the oven for ten minutes and then allow to cool thoroughly.
In a large bowl mix all the ingredients for the filling until fully combined, scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod and mix until fully distributed. Do not over mix the filling as you do not want to incorporate air, a cheesecake is not light and airy, it is more dense.
Pour the filling into the cake tin and cook at 180 degrees c for 10 minutes and cook for a further hour at 140 degrees c. Switch off the oven and allow to sit in the oven for a further 3 hours, refrigerate overnight.

I have simply decorated my cheesecake with a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkle of salt for an extra dimension.

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