June 11, 2011

Midnight Cheesecake

The difference between store-bought and homemade cheesecake is probably the biggest of any dessert out there. I was never a fan of cheesecake until I tried the real stuff. It really isn't difficult to make either. So why do people buy that hard, fake-tasting, three-times-sweeter-than-it-needs-to-be cheesecake from the store?

Kiwi Cheesecake is my favorite. The first time I made it was for my 8th grade English class. I gave a presentation on the New Zealand holiday, Waitangi Day. New Zealanders love their kiwi, in fact they use the word to refer to their national bird, themselves, and anything else from New Zealand. The tangy fruit goes gorgeously with the sweet cheesecake and the tangy/sweet sour cream topping.

I decided I wanted cheesecake at about 10 pm one night and had most of the ingredients on hand. I pulled a recipe off of a website and tweaked it. Here's what I ended up with around 12:30...

Unlike other cooking, baking requires precision in measuring ingredients (that's why it's not my forte.) So unless your a brilliant chemist, you will probably need some kind of recipe. Now, that doesn't mean you can't play around with it. Just don't change anything that will change the composition. Here is the basic recipe:


*1 1/2 cup graham crackers
*6 tbsp butter
*1/4 cup sugar

*1 1/2 lb. softened cream cheese
*2 tbsp milk
*1/2 tsp. salt
*1 tsp vanilla
*4 eggs beaten
*1 cup sugar

*1 cup sour cream
*3 tbsp powdered sugar
*1/2 tsp vanilla
*3 kiwis

I didn't have graham cracker crumbs when I made this, so I used pretzels instead.  I just threw some in the food processor, ground them to about the same size as graham cracker crumbs, and made an exact substitution.

I then mixed the ingredients of the crust together and pressed them into two pie plates (springform pans are preferrable, but I didn't have them on hand). Put the crusts in the oven for 10 min at 350 degrees. 
Then, I beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. I added the eggs, milk, salt, and vanilla. I poured the batter into the crust.

I baked for 35-40 minutes until it looked like this. As soon as all the jiggle is gone and it is slightly brown over the top, it is done.

While this was cooling down a bit, I made the sour cream topping by combining the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. I spread this over the cheesecakes and returned to the oven. I cooked it for 10-15 minutes. The topping will get a sheen to it and will begin to cook into the cake. I then sliced up the kiwis and put them on when the cheesecake was completely cool.

Side Note:
I had some frozen raspberries on hand, so I decided to make a compote for my cheesecake. I put them on the stove to start cooking them and surprise! I realized we had no cornstarch. Adding enough powdered sugar to get the right consistency would have made it way too sweet, and obviously flour would have made it taste nasty. I was looking around desperately for a substitute and found this:

I have no idea what this is normally used for or why somebody in my house chose to buy it, but I figured it would have a thickening agent in it. I just added around 2 tablespoons of it to the fruit, some water, and about a quarter cup of sugar. It worked beautifully! This raspberry compote idea is a totally optional part of the recipe, but I like to see what happens when I add new things like this.

Let cool completely before you add to the cheesecake.

Once the cheesecake was completely cool and assembled, I put it in the fridge until it was cold.

In the end, I do prefer the graham cracker crust and raspberryless Kiwi Cheesecake... but this goes to show that you can almost always make substitutions and add new things. Even in baking!

I will admit that this was not the best Kiwi Cheescake I have ever made. The kiwis were harder than they should have been and the crust got a little burnt. I'm not perfect, okay?