Monday, March 5, 2012

Cate's First Cheesecake

One of my supreme joys is teaching kids how to cook especially when they show an interest at an early age.  One of my very best friends has two darling daughters: Cate and Paige.  Cate is 9 and Paige just turned 6.   When I arrived in NYC I received a special request from Cate to teach her how to make a cheesecake with double the crust and no blueberries.  I had on a few other occasions made cheesecake with fresh summer blueberries.  Her suggestion was a good one for this time of year.  And this is no ordinary kid. She has a sophisticated palate that rivals my own at her age.  She loves tuna tartare and when I was 9, I loved frogs' legs.  I introduced her to Humboldt Fog -- the ash rich, textured and creamy goat cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and it's now her favorite cheese.  Suffice it to say, after food camp this summer she might be showing me a thing or two in the kitchen. 

So I easily agreed to her request and we set out to make a cheesecake -- that together with a few happy accidents came up with what now believe is the best cheesecake I've ever made.   Thanks Cate!

You'll need:

9" springform pan
For the crust:
2 pkgs. graham crackers
1/2 C. butter melted

For the filling:
2 lbs. cream cheese
1 C. sugar
4 eggs
4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. sour cream
1/4 C. heavy cream
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

While still in their package, hit graham crackers against the counter a few times to break up.  Place broken bits in the food processor.  Pulse until finely ground.  Melt butter and place in a bowl.  Add crumbs and turn until even mixed.  Pat gently and evenly in the bottom of the springform pan.  Place in the oven and let bake for ten minutes.

In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid Mixmaster (regular mixing bowl and hand mixer will work, too) add all the cream cheese.   Mix on low just to break it up.  Add sugar and blend on medium until mixture is smooth.  Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.  Once the eggs are fully incorporated add the vanilla -- this was Cate's addition since no recipe ever calls for this much vanilla and it's genius!  Then add the sour cream and heavy cream.  Mix well.   Now turn in the lemon zest and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula.  

Pour the mixture into the springform pan and bake for 1 hour.  Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the warm oven for another two hours.  Cake will cook perfectly in this manner.  Refrigerate immediately.  Should be ready to serve 2 hours later. 

This is a dense but creamy cheesecake -- a little bit New York but softer and more far more flavorful.  Enjoy!

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