Friday, July 29, 2011

Bronx Cheesecake

My son Matt is crazy for cheesecake, likewise his crew of friends. Matt is a great test taster. He's honest, sometimes brutally and he can articulate what he likes about a dish and what he does like. It took us a few tries to get the Bronx Cheesecake right. Matt prefers things less sweet and not really heavy. On the other hand I've tasted some desserts where you can't tell you've eaten anything, what's the fun in that?
Thru research I discovered that New York style is made soely from cream cheese and occasionaly some sour cream while the Italian version is made with ricotta. All ricotta seemed too light while all cream cheese would add 10 lbs and require excersise...NO WAY...
A blend of the two resulted in a creamy cake, not too sweet, not too heavy. Matt approved whole heartedly and so did his crew. This recipe is easy to adapt as well. I have added cocoa powder and used chocolate cookies/graham crackers for the crust to make a chocolate version as well as adding blackberries to make a summery treat.
The only trick to this recipe is baking it in a water bath. I do this so that the temperature remains pretty consistent preventing sudden changes, which can result in cracking on the top of your cheesecake. If that does happen, don't worry. consider it an opportunity to decorate with some fruit, whipped cream or anything else your imagination inspires you to do.
Like most recipes, they are inspired by others, a persons preferences and creativity. Give this one a go~I made the measurements and ingredient list easy. Eventually you can make it from memory.

Bronx Cheesecake

1/2 box graham crackers (your flavor and brand choice)
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup melted butter

16oz cream cheese (softened)
16oz ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup flour

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Crush graham crackers (I use a food processor), blend sugar and pour in butter. Mix until combined
I use a springform pan. a pie pan is going to be too small, but you might get 2 if you wanna try ;). Pour in crust mixture and pat it into the bottom and up the sides. I use a flat bottomed measuring cup. It works great!
Bake crust in oven for 10-15 min. Just until browned slightly. Turn oven down to 350 after removing crust. Set aside to cool a bit while you make the filling.

In a mixer (by hand is near impossible YIKES) add cream cheese. Blend to make sure it's creamy. Add ricotta, blend. Add vanilla, blend. Add flour, blend. Last thing add eggs, blend until incorporated well. DO NOT OVER MIX. Over mixing leads to cracking.

Take aluminum foil and cover the springform pan bottom to top. This will prevent any seepage of water from the water bath. Now set crust filled springform pan into a large roasting pan, or a pan with high sides that can accomodate the springform pan. This will be your water bath.
Pour filling into crust. Place roasting pan into the oven, middle rack then pour in as much hot water as it takes into the raosting pan to come up 1/2 the sides of the springform pan.

Bake for 1 hour at 350. Turn oven off and leave cake in for another hour as the oven cools. Remove roasting pan from oven. Remove springform from it and allow the cake to cool in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Remove springform and serve.

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