Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! In honor of the holiday, I decided to do a dessert you’d find at most romantic restaurants – and a personal favorite of mine – cheesecake! Best part is, it’s really not that hard to make at all. Don’t believe me? Keep reading and see for yourself – King Arthur Flour’s recipe is the perfect balance of creaminess, tanginess, and sweet, all baked up in cake form.
Let’s start out first with the recipe from the King:
Crust (Pâte Sucrée):
- 1 and 1/4 cups (5 and 1/4 ounces) pastry or unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon nonfat dry milk (optional, but helpful for browning and tenderness)
- 1/4 cup (1 and 3/4 ounces) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces) cold butter
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon water
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then cut in the cold butter. Whisk together the egg yolk, vanilla, and water and stir into the dry mixture; the dough should be crumbly but hold together when squeezed. Press the pâte sucrée into the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Use a piece of plastic wrap to cover the dough while pressing it into place. Prick the crust all over and bake it for 12 to 15 minutes
Ingredients for cheesecake filling:
- 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/4 cups (8 and 3/4 ounces) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons (1 and 1/2 ounces) freshly squeezed lemon juice, or 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) heavy cream
Directions for the filling:
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft and no lumps remain, stopping to scrape down the bowl once or twice. Do this using the slow speed; you don’t want to incorporate air into the mixture. Add the sugar and salt and mix until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth before adding the next egg, and scraping the bottom of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the lemon, vanilla, sour cream, and heavy cream. Stir just until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 to 50 minutes; the edges of the cake will look set and be a light golden brown and the middle should still jiggle when you nudge the pan. The internal temperature when measured an inch from the center should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Turn the oven off, open the door slightly, and let the cheesecake cool slowly in the oven for 1 hour. During this time the center will finish setting. Cooling the cake slowly will keep the top from cracking and ensure an even, smooth texture inside.
After an hour, remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the edge to allow the cake to contract as it cools. Refrigerate overnight before serving. Top with fruit or whipped cream, if desired.
As usual, the recipe seemed much easier than what I had imagined it took to make a cheesecake. Here’s exactly how I was able to make mine.
I first started by preheating the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and began making the crust. To do that, I dumped all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then whisked them together.
Next, I took the cold butter and cut it into the whisked dry ingredients using a pastry cutter.
I then took the water, vanilla, and egg yolk, placed them into a separate bowl, and whisked them together.
I took the whisked liquid and poured it into the dry ingredients and butter, stirring it all together. I squeezed the mixture with my hands to make sure it held together. Here’s what it looked like:
I then lightly sprayed my springform pan with some non-stick baking spray and pressed the raw crust into the bottom of the pan and slightly up the sides.
I then took a fork and pricked the dough all over. Next, I popped the pan into the preheated oven and baked it for 12 minutes until it was browned.
I set the baked crust aside, reduced the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and started on the filling. I placed the three packages of room-temperature cream cheese into the bowl of my Kitchen-Aid mixer and using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on low until it was nice and smooth. I stopped twice and used a spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure it was all smoothly beaten.
Next, I dumped in the sugar and salt and turned the mixer back on low until it looked like this:
I then added in the four eggs, one at a time. After each egg was added, I scraped the bottom of the bowl with the spatula to keep ensuring everything was smooth.
After the eggs were added, the filling looked like this:
I took the heavy cream, sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla and added them to the mixture. I mixed it again on low until everything was combined and smooth.
Next, I poured the filling into the springform pan on top of the crust.
I then popped the pan into the oven and baked it for 45 minutes. After the timer buzzed, I shut the oven off and cracked the oven door. I let the cheesecake sit in the oven for an hour, where it continued to bake as the oven cooled. Once the hour was up, I took the cheesecake out and placed it in the refrigerator to cool overnight. Here’s how it looked after I pulled it from the oven:
After it had cooled overnight, it looked like this:
Thanks to a gift from my brother and his wife, I had a pie server, so I used that to slice and serve the cheesecake. It worked great!
So, it was really not a hard one to make at all, and let me tell you, it was fantastic! Since it was Valentine’s Day, I had some strawberries and strawberry glaze that I used to top the slices, and I think it turned out pretty darn great.
If you need a reminder of what the final product looked like, here you go:
Give it a shot and let me know how it goes for you! Happy Valentine’s Day and happy baking, everyone!!!