About Me

My photo
Lansing, Michigan, United States
I am a Lansing townie, lawyer, and restaurant reviewer for the City Pulse. I love traveling, reading, yoga, and baking, but my favorite hobby is stuffing my face.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fourth best thing I made this year: cheesecake

It's no secret that my younger brother and I are very close. We are three years apart and grew up spending our time running around at the family cottage, laughing at my mother, and swimming for hours in our high school pool. When his wife gave birth to their little son two weeks ago I was sitting at the hospital, waiting for the news, with a tin overflowing with cookies.
My brother is a cop- the Thin Blue Line is an organization that provides assistance to the families of officers killed in the line of duty. And the hat that the hospital provided was too small for baby's head.
While I love the guy, it hurts me that he doesn't have much of a sweet tooth. I'm constantly bringing him cookies, cake, sweet rolls, like these ones from Christmas morning. Mom still didn't have power, but brother had a generator so we all convened at his house in the country.
He said the rolls were "ok." I stared daggers.

When he asked me last March to make him a cheesecake for his birthday, I was tickled that he requested a sweet. I got to work and started churning out New York-style cheesecakes, recipe from my trusty America's Test Kitchen Family cookbook. I eventually got the hang of it.
I do realize this is an awful photo. Please accept my apologies.
Cheesecake isn't incredibly difficult to make. You make the graham cracker crust first, baking it in your Springform pan, which is crucial to making a cheesecake. While you let that cool, you beat together five packages of cream cheese, some sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. You beat, scrape the bowl, beat, scrape the bowl. The last thing you want is to start to pour the filling onto the crust and find an unmixed wad of cream cheese.

You bake the cake at 500 degrees for the first 10 minutes, which darkens the top (and sets off your smoke alarm.) Then the temperature is reduced to 200, which makes the filling velvety and smooth.

I've made cheesecake several times since March. For Thanksgiving I did a plain cheesecake (my preference) with a bowl full of caramel sauce that I whipped up on the stove. For our powerless Christmas I had a cheesecake in the freezer, thankfully, because after several days of sitting around in the dark and cold we needed a treat. This one had an extra layer of holiday pizzazz- a few weeks ago one of my batches of peppermint sugar cookies ended up just a little too crispy, so I kept them in the freezer for a rainy day. When I started to make my cheesecake I forewent the plain graham cracker crumbs and instead ground up the cookies in my food processor for the crust. The result was a slightly pepperminty crust- not overtly flavorful but enough so that, when my sister-in-law took a bite of her cake, she turned to me with a quizzical look.
The Christmas Cheesecake warmed us up, mellowed us out after so many stressful days, and sweetened us up, just enough to play a few rounds of Taboo.

No comments: