Monday, April 19, 2010

Sharon's Cheesecake

My friend Sharon Garcia is famous in our little town for her cheesecakes. For our R.S. cooking class we asked her to teach us and she so kindly shared her recipe, so now I'm sharing with you. It is delicious.

She makes a raspberry swirl, which I find heavenly. I tried making one with raspberry topping rather than swirling in and I have to say the swirl tasted so much better, so I'm doing that next time.

She prefers using coconut cookies for her crust. I didn't have those and ran out of graham crackers so used animal crackers for mine and I actually like them the best. So play around and vary your crust for fun flavor. Oh, and I used two fat free cream cheeses and one full fat- and all generic brands- so you can play around with the level of fat and not have to feel quite as guilty when you eat six pieces (I promise you won't be able to stop at one).


1 1/2 cookie crumbs (I like animal crackers)
1/4 cup melted butter (add more if crumbs don't stick together)
1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 8oz packages cream cheese, softened (can use generic and 1/3 fat)
5 eggs
16 oz sour cream
3 tablespoons lemon juice (don't omit this- it really adds awesome flavor)
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla (or pure vanilla extract)

Use a food processer to grind crumbs, or just place cookies in a ziploc freezer bag and roll with rolling pin. Mix cookie crumbs with sugar then add melted butter (if crumbs don't stick together, add more butter). Cover bottom of springform pan with wax or parchment paper so cheesecake can easily be lifted out of the pan. Firmly press cookie crumb mixture on bottom and sides of pan.

For filling: place softenend cream cheese in large glass mixing bowl. Add sugar and mix until smooth and creamy. Add eggs one at a time just until well blended and creamy (over mixing incorporates too much air in the cheesecake and can cause cracking. Sharon's tip for getting bubbles out is to pound the bowl against a table until the bubbles pop). Stir in sour cream just until blended.

In a separate bowl mix lemon juice and corn starch until smooth, add to cream cheese mixture. Add vanilla and mix just until combined, pour over crust. If you're going to swirl berries in- you can use jam or just take some frozen berries with jam or 1/2 cup sugar (or to taste) and heat over stove until syrup forms (see below for more details & pics). Using a knife, gently swirl berries into cheesecake using soft up and down swirling motions.

Bake at 350 for one hour. Do not overbake. If the cheesecake begins to inflate or "poof" on the edges, it is done. The center of the cake (approximately 2" diameter) will look soft or damp and may be like thick jello, but not liquidy. Let cool for about an hour before placing in the fridge (I turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool- it usually takes an hour and then I don't see and smell the cheesecake and be tempted to cut into it early). Chill before serving, best if chilled overnight.

I found that unless the cheesecake was chilled overnight in the fridge it was too soft- so you can either cook it a bit longer and risk cracking, or be patient and wait. I personally don't mind cracks in my cheesecake- as long as it tastes good. But the flavor is better the next day too.

If you'd prefer to serve it with sauce rather than swirl in, it's just as easy to do. Use frozen raspberries (or any fruit) and heat in saucepan- add strawberry jam to sweeten them up, or about 1/2 cup or more sugar, the sugar in either form will cause the fruit to "bleed" making it a thin syrup- if you want it thicker just sprinkle a little flour or cornstarch in and mix until it reaches desired thickness.
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