Warning: You are about to venture into a territory never before seen. You are about to witness what many said could never be done. You are about to enter the ultimate cheesecake zone!
It is the most popular dessert on the restaurant menu throughout the world and often times, the most expensive. It has a history which goes back to ancient Greece and is the only culinary creation which boasts its own version in every ethnic cuisine. As a matter-of-fact, so popular is cheesecake in America that it even has its own day of recognition -- July 30th!
There are essentially two types of cheesecake: baked and un-baked. The un-baked variety is really nothing more than a cheese pie. This is the type of cheesecake most people are used to and the type you buy in supermarkets or get in restaurants which don't want to take the time to actually prepare something worth the money they are charging you. The baked cheesecake, or European-style, is time consuming to make but the taste, texture and presentation are very much worth the time. In any case, both are extremely easy to prepare and really do not take as many ingredients as you might think. The only special tool you will need for either of these types of cheesecake is a 12-inch springform pan (a pan which has a hinge on the side and springs open when unhinged) and they can be purchased in any store that has a kitchen section and are rather inexpensive.
If you happen to be on a diet, cheesecake may not be the best thing to slip between your lips -- especially this recipe called Ultimate Cheesecake. With this original European cheesecake recipe the body of the cake will consist of three pounds of cream cheese and one pound of sour cream, not to mention five eggs and 2 cups of sugar -- which is why it has been deemed "The Ultimate Cheesecake!" When Chef Larry Edwards created this recipe, he had two things in mind: He wanted the ultimate in cream cheese texture and taste and he wanted the presentation to be unlike any other cheesecake. As you will see once you have prepared and tasted this cheesecake, he did indeed succeed.
If you should have any leftover cream cheese batter from this cake, put it into an ice cream machine for the ultimate in Cheesecake Ice Cream!
Ingredients needed to make the Ultimate 3-Pound cheesecake (makes 1 cheesecake):
- 3 pounds cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 pound sour cream
- 2 Tbs. vanilla
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Into your mixer and using the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and mix until very smooth (about 7 minutes).
- While the mixer is going, add the eggs one-at-a-time, making sure each is well incorporated into the batter before adding the next one.
- While the mixer is going, add the cornstarch and beat 3 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and then add the sour cream and the vanilla. Turn the mixer back on and beat 5 minutes.
- Remove the paddle attachment from the mixer and place on the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer on and whisk the batter, at medium-high speed, for about 7 minutes (this will add air to the batter and make for an even smoother texture in the cheesecake).
- Let the batter rest while you prepare the bottom crust.
The most popular bottom crust for a cheesecake is a graham cracker crust. It is also the easiest to prepare. Simply take some graham crackers and 1/4 cup brown sugar and process them in a food processor until smooth (about 1 package will do the trick). Melt 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) and then mix the two together. Place in the bottom of a springform pan and pat down to make it firm. Now you are set to spoon in the batter!
Now here comes the secret to perfect cheesecake! Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees. Take a large roasting pan and fill it half way with water. Once you have spooned your cream cheese batter into the prepared springform pan (and smoothed it out), wrap the outside of the pan in foil and place the pan into the water in the roasting pan and place in the oven. Let the cheesecake bake for 90 minutes (DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR). Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake sit in the oven until it has cooled to the point where you can grab it with your bare hands. This subtle cooling of the cheesecake along with the slow (meaning low temperature) cooking method will result in little or no cracks to the top of the cake. Now, place the cheesecake into the refrigerator and let chill at least 6 hours (if there are cracks in your cheesecake, often times the chilling will seal the cracks) before slicing and entering culinary heaven!
It might take a few attempts to perfect this cheesecake in your kitchen but once you do, the chances are very strong this will be the only cheesecake recipe you will ever again use. Its taste, its texture and its appearance make this cheesecake one of the jewels in the crown of great desserts!
The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."