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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year! Time for Dessert!

My dessert offering tonight isn't a family recipe, nor does it really have a lot to do with any of my books. But oddly, it does have a lot to do with my a rather convoluted way...

You see, I don't cook well. In fact, I roasted a turkey for the first time last year. I have a handful of meals my mom and grandma taught me. Oddly, I'm a pretty good baker. But anyhow, I don't cook, but my daughter does. She's a chef, and a pretty elevated chef at that. She feeds the rich and famous, as well as the rich, powerful and less famous. She's kind of a someone in her field and dang. I had nothing to do with her skills. But when I pick up something in the kitchen, I pick it up really, really well. Which really bugs her. ;)

It takes courage to try something out of your comfort zone, and a few years ago, I was fresh off a pressure-filled year of writing and just decided to try making a cheesecake. I'd never made one but I knew my daughter makes a pretty mean dessert and I just wanted to know if I could do it. So when my family was out of town for a weekend, I tried. It was a pumpkin cheesecake and it was...okay. Not that impressive, but eat-worthy. Next I tried a chocolate cheesecake. My sister was taste-testing and absolutely loved it. Next up was the ultimate cheesecake: New York, plain and simple.

I experimented with recipes and finally concocted one I liked, and dang. It was gooooodddd. So I tested it on my youngest daughter, and she was in love. She asked if I'd make enough to do a fund-raiser for her dental hygiene class. (No. Sorry) So I was feeling pretty proud of myself till my oldest showed up for New Years. I urged her to try it and she refused. The next day I offered it again. And again and again, till she finally caved and took a sliver. And I mean a sliver. It was transparent.

She sat, ate it and then just sat there in her chair. She eventually got up, went to the kitchen and came back into the living room with a big, fat slice and quietly ate it. Then she looked at me and said, "Goddamnit, Mom...that's the second thing you make better than me!" (the other is a bread recipe.) I nearly got up and danced! LOL! At that moment, I felt as good as I did with my first ever five star review!

Anyhow, I'm not a good cook but I make a pretty darned good cheesecake and maybe for the New Year, lets all try something out of our comfort zone. :)

So here it is. My personal, private cheesecake recipe. I'm sure its out there in various permutations, but this is how I make it. 

Now the thing with cheesecake is how you bake it. Slow and low. Put a pan of water in the oven to keep it moist. And don't overcook!

Belinda's New York Cheesecake
Your favorite graham cracker crust or:
1/2 cup butter, melted
2s cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs

3 1/3 packages (8 oz. packages) room temperature cream cheese
1 4 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
(Not evaporated milk!)
2 eggs 
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
1tsp lime juice and/or lemon/lime or orange zest to taste
(this isn't a citrus cheesecake, but the juice and/or zest really plays up the tart edge of the creme cheese)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; press evenly on bottom of 2 small springform pans. Bake for about 10 minutes, or till crust starts to brown slightly. Take out of oven to cool.

2. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk, beating until smooth.

3. Add vanilla, juice, zest and eggs, mix well. Pour into prepared pie pans.

4. Lower heat to 300. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, turn off oven but leave cheesecakes in oven with door propped slightly open for an additional hour. Turn off the heat as soon as the center of the cake is solid, but still jiggly. Take it out and let it cool before chilling.

5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours until firm. I suggest you serve with lemon curd, blackberry jam or another tart topping. And whipped cream. Or just serve it naked. 

Variations I've tried:

Substitute juice and zest, using 2 tsps of vanilla
Juice and zest of an orange  
1 tbsp of Amaretto plus 1 tsp almond extract


Jewel said...

I do love a good cheesecake. Pumpkin cheesecake is my favorite, but a good New York cheesecake is a close second. Delicious!

ardent.ereader said...

Hi Belinda, I adore cheesecake and I am adding your recipe to my collection. Look forward to giving it a try. Happy New Year! ardent(dot)ereader(at)gmail(dot)com

Rain said...

I like to bake more I like to cook, although I've been lazy with both lately. It's been ages since I made cheesecake, too. Yours sounds delicious!


CBarton said...

A good cheesecake has never been refused in my house!! I love The Cheesecake Factory and pretty much make myself sick eating a piece of theirs. I will have to give yours a try.

cmucha319 AT yahoo DOT com

Unknown said...

I will have to try this recipe! Sounds yummy! Thank you and Happy New Year!


H.B. said...

I'm not really a fan of cheesecake but a lot of my family is. I'll have t try this for them. Thank you for sharing the recipe =) Happy New year!

humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

Lee Todd said...

I love cheesecake...yummmm


waxapplelover said...

I love to bake, but don't have all the specialized equipment baking really demands. :) I might give this a try anyways, because I think my family would really love it. And great story about your daughter the chef. Thanks for sharing!

Waxapplelover (at) gmail (dot) com

Christy Duke said...

More power to you on taking on the challenge of NY cheesecake! Looks scrumptious!

Marcine said...

I love cheesecake. This sounds so good. The link on ZA's site is not working. I had to surf to find you:)

Thanks for the contest and the recipe.

Anonymous said...

Yum. Cheesecake! Happy New Year. kissedbymidnight AT gmail DOT com

Antonia said...

Love cheesecake! Thanks for the recipe. Happy New Year!

Barbra said...

There's almost nothing I like better than "plain" cheesecake. You better believe I'm gonna give it a try. Thanks!

Jbst said...

How large are your springform pans? Would one large springform pan work? Maybe 9 or 10 inch pan? Thanks for the recipe!
strive4bst(AT) yahoo(Dot) com

bn100 said...

Nice recipe

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I love cheesecake, and haven't made one in ages...hmm...

Trix, vitajex(At)Aol(dot)com

tracykitnreads said...

i am saving so many recipes, it's sad! I'm a fan of cheesecake, though, so it's all good!

tracykitn AT yahoo DOT com

Heather Rawlins said...

I love cheesecake. I will be trying for sure. I'm a trained cook and I've never made a soufflé, so maybe as a New Year resolution, i'll go out of my comfort zone and make one. Hopefully I am as successful as you.
Happy New Year.

Jen CW said...

I love pumpkin and a pumpkin cheesecake would be amazing. Thank you for the recipe.


Dawn Roberto said...

ooohh I love love love cheesecake. Thanks for the recipe.

Denise Dechene said...

I love cheesecake, and my daughter bakes a mean on. I don't make things like cheesecake because...let's just say it's not pretty. Hope your holiday is great

Debby said...

I would like to try your cheesecake but with a different crust.
debby236 at gmail dot com and hotmail

Mari said...

Looks great! Thanks for the recipe!

Unknown said...

Looks good, thanks for the recipe!!

Jen said...

Cheesecake rules! Congrats on your "victory" with your NY Cheesecake. The recipe looks wonderful.

Happy 2015!

jen.f {at} mac {dot} com

Melora said...

I adore cheesecake (I insisted on them for birthdays over the more popular flour-based options) so trying out a recipe that even a well respected chef praises you for will not be a hardship for me.

kaytee said...

I love cheesecake and this one looks great. Thanks

Alishea said...

I've never tried to make a cheesecake.

Mandy said...

I haven't made New York cheesecake in years, and I've lost the family recipe, so thank you for yours! Now I'll have to try it againM

Jillian Too said...

Glad you able to impress your children with your successful recipe!

Juliana said...

Ooo, I lurve cheesecake! I make a pretty good one if I do say so myself! ;) Thanks for sharing!
OceanAkers @