New York Style Cheesecake

Alana

Last year Mike and I drove out to Vancouver to visit Roopa, which included classes at the Pastry Training Centre of Vancouver. I have to admit that I haven’t really practiced many of the recipes other than apple pie. Some of the recipes I’m a bit intimidated by (like the strudel), whereas others I simply lacked the right equipment (ie any of the cheesecakes we made). Lucky for me, Mike is an awesome boyfriend and got me two 6×3 pastry rings for Christmas! Last year he hosted a wee celebration for his birthday (see last years Cinnamon Bun Cake), but this year the timing was a bit awkward with other events. I told him I would make him a cake either way. I didn’t hassle him very much this year about what kind of cake he wanted, because he requested a cheesecake right away!

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Chef Marco, if you’re out there, I need you to know that my cheesecake is not cracked because I over baked it or used Philadelphia cream cheese. It is cracked because it was really jiggly and I poked it too many times.

The first step to making this cheese cake was to make the graham crackers for the crust. The graham crackers are really easy to make ahead of time; I whipped them up the day before the rest of the cheesecake, so they had lots of time to cool/set.

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The next step was to prepare the pastry ring. It has no bottom to it so you fold parchment paper around the base, then repeat with tin foil.

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Mixing all of the ingredients together was also quite easy. I think of the whole process, the first thing I would like to comment on is how much water you need to bloom the cocoa powder; it is not much. Add just a little bit at a time, because you really don’t need much and you don’t want it to get too liquidy. This just dilutes your cheese cake batter.

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The one thing that I think I found the most intimidating about this recipe, especially considering pastry school was a year ago, was the baking time for the cheesecake. I was checking the cake intermittently, just like you should, to watch for the coagulation process. It was taking longer for the outsides to poach that I thought it should, so I was getting quite nervous. I thought that perhaps I totally screwed up my cheesecake because the Island Farm cream cheese that you can get in Edmonton is the “spreadable” kind. I figured that cream cheese was cream cheese, but Sarah Tea Girl has had cheesecakes take a turn for the worst using the same cream cheese. I thought that perhaps my cheesecake was doomed from the beginning. Turns out I just had to be patient, because once the cheesecake started to poach, it went relatively quickly. 

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Anyways the cheesecake turned out well, and Micheal really enjoyed it. It’s nice and creamy, and not too sweet 🙂

Graham Crackers

Ingredients

  • 70 g unsalted butter (relatively cold)
  • 20 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 g molasses
  • 80 g whole wheat flour (I used bread flour)
  • 2 g baking powder
  • 2 g cinnamon
  • 20 g almond powder

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and molasses until there are no lumps. Add in the egg yolk and mix well.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Using your hands, mix until combined. Do not overwork it.
  4. Chill in the fridge.
  5. When your almost ready to bake the crackers, preheat the oven to 315 degrees C.
  6. Remove dough from the fridge, and carefully roll it out on a floured surface. Transfer onto a baking sheet lined with silicone baking mat or parchment paper. (These don’t rise or spread, so they can be quite close together).
  7. Bake for ~18 minutes, or until golden on the edges. Remove from oven and let cool.

New York Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • graham cracker crumbs (1 batch)
  • 30 g honey
  • 50 g butter, melted
  • 340 g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 80 g sour cream, room temperature
  • 60 g granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs

Directions

  1. Wrap the bottom of a pastry ring with parchment paper and aluminium foil, and place on a baking sheet with edges.
  2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, honey, and melted butter. Press the graham mixture down into the cake ring. Bake for 5 – 10 minutes until dry.
  3. Mix the cream cheese and sugar well. Add in sour cream and mix, then add eggs and mix (using a spatula).
  4. Pour most of the cheesecake batter into the cake ring, leaving a few tablespoons aside.
  5. Mix 1 tbsp. of cocoa with a small amount of cold water to bloom it (make a paste), and mix a little bit in with the leftover cheese mixture.
  6. Spoon some of the chocolate mixture into the cake ring, and use a small stick to marble the top.
  7. Bake the cake with water in the tray at 300 F until firm (with no colour and no cracking).

Notes:

  • The crust can be baked at a variety of temperatures. It’s just about baking until it’s dry. The crackers are already baked, so you want to avoid browning them anymore.
  • Don’t use a whisk for the cream cheese, as it will whip unwanted air inside.
  • You want an even, coagulated jiggle across the top of the cheesecake. Check the cake every 5-10 minutes to monitor the baking progression. A cheesecake doesn’t rise, so it isn’t negatively affected by opening the oven door.
  • If you add cocoa to the cheesecake mixture without blooming it, it won’t mix in properly.
  • If the top cracks, you’ve probably baked it for too long, used too high a baking temperature, or used Philadelphia cream cheese.

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