Wednesday night the parents (read: MOM’s) held a taco-feed team & family dinner at Heppner High School for the varsity girls’ basketball team. Each mom brought something to contribute, and I volunteered to bring dessert (I kind of like sweet things just a little.). Emma wanted be to bring cheesecake, which was okay except for one problem. I’ve never made a cheesecake that didn’t come out of a box and was no-bake.
No problem, right? Sure, Emma, if you say so.
I began today by getting out my handy-dandy all-time favorite cookbook: The Best Recipe Book by the Editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine. It had a perfect recipe for cheesecake with three or four different variations. I elected to make the “light and fluffy” version. I did not, however, follow their directions to bake the cheesecake in a water bath, which I believe is supposed to prevent the top from cracking, but for my first try, I wasn’t going to get that complicated. The recipe is delightfully easy to make and turned out well.
The best advice they gave was to wrap the bottom piece of your springform pan with tin foil BEFORE adding the crust because it helps with removal of the cheesecake to a serving dish when it’s all cooled.
Press a graham-cracker crumb crust into the bottom of a springform pan. I like a thicker crust, so I used one whole package of graham crackers (the plastic package, not a box) and 4 tablespoons of butter.
This is the point that the “light and fluffy” recipe differs from the “dense” recipe.
Now the recipe does something a little odd. It gives you two options for baking – one was a steady temperature for a fixed amount of time, and the other was two separate temperatures for different times. I chose to bake the cheesecake using the differing temperatures method.
Unfortunately (Fortunately for me because now it gets to stay here for us! 🙂 ), the cheesecake did not cool completely before we had to leave for Heppner, so I made a different one to take there. It is a super easy no-bake recipe I got from my mom, and even though I didn’t take pictures, I’ll post it anyway.
Donna Betts’ Easy Cheesecake Recipe
- 1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese
- 1 – cup powdered sugar
- 1 – cup cool whip
- 1 – topping off choice
- 1 – ready-made crust (for Wednesday, I made my own similar to the other recipe)
Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat mixture until completely incorporated. Add cool whip. Spread mixture into ready-made crust and refrigerate 1/2 hour. Pour topping over top of mixture and refrigerate until ready to serve. I used a huckleberry topping I bought in Montana when I was there last Spring, but any fruit topping would work. Emma loves it plain.
The Best Recipe Book by the Editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine
- 2 – pounds cream cheese (4 – 8 oz. packages)
- 1-1/4 – cups sugar
- 4 – large eggs
- 2 – teaspoons vanilla
- 1 – teaspoon lemon zest minced
- 1/4 – cup heavy cream
- 1/4 – cup sour cream
Line bottom of springform pan with foil, folding extra over the bottom of pan. press graham cracker crumbs and butter into bottom of pan to desired crust thickness. Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add sugar and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla and lemon zest. Add 4 large egg yolks one at a time, scraping bowl sides between each yolk. Remove bowl from mixer and stir heavy cream and sour cream in by hand until completely incorporated. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and fold them into the cream cheese mixture. Pour mixture into springform pan.
Bake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes! Open oven door and reduce heat to 200 degrees (once oven is cooled down, close door) and bake for an additional 45 minutes. The cheesecake will be done when the sides are set and the center jiggles like jello when the pan is tapped. LEAVE THE CHEESECAKE IN THE OVEN. Turn off the oven and brace the door open with a wooden spoon handle and let it sit for one more hour. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Once the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator to cool completely.
Remove from springform pan and serve with topping of choice.