I had four requests for cheesecake recipes this past week, which set a record for the number of times the same kind of recipe was sought in the same week. Coincidentally, my Wilton springform pan I used for more than a decade “sprung its spring” from overuse back in early fall. I immediately searched for and found a new Wilton pan just in time for the holiday baking season. With my new pan needing to be “seasoned,” I worked a bit to change my classic cheesecake recipe to omit the sour cream, which had no flavor but affected the texture. I found over the years that many folks throw up a red flag when they see “sour cream” as an ingredient in a “baked good.” With only some fine tuning in the ingredients and a slight alteration in the baking temperature and time I was able to make a “basic” cheesecake that can be topped with about anything your heart desires.
Too, I dug in my correspondence files back to February 2007. That year I wrote about cheesecake just prior to Valentine’s Day and it resulted in a flood of emails from wonderful readers. Among those kind readers was Nadine Gramling of Orangeburg, with whom I have corresponded with. She received a recipe packet from me via mail and sent me a few recipes of her friend's via email.
So alas, in response to readers’ recent requests, I am debuting my "new” basic cheesecake recipe and rerunning the brownie cheesecake recipe that Nadine shared. Not only are they delicious, but they make really great gifts.
‘New’ basic cheesecake
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, softened
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the four crust ingredients. Press this mixture firmly onto the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan that has been “lightly greased” with butter.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, flour and vanilla extract. Mix until these ingredients are fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating at low speed just until the ingredients are blended. Stir in the milk until the batter is of even consistency. Pour this mixture into the crust. Place the springform pan on cookie sheet or other shallow pan and place the cheesecake into the preheated oven.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes. Cheesecake is done when it springs back when lightly touched in the center (cheesecake will shake slightly when moved). Remove the cheesecake from the oven and gently run a knife around the inside edge of the pan.
Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack at room temperature for one hour. Chill the cheesecake for at least four hours so that it cools to the very center. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and release the spring to separate the sides of the pan from the bottom. This recipe makes 10 to 12 slices. Top the cheesecake as desired.
1-1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (about 45 cookies)
6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons baking cocoa
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1-1/2 cups crumbled brownies
Whipped topping and pecan halves, optional
In a bowl, combine the wafer crumbs, confectioners’ sugar and cocoa. Stir in the butter until well combined. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan.
In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla extract and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix well. Beat in the eggs just until combined. Fold or stir in the brownies. Spoon this mixture into the crust.
Place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Cool for one hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with whipped topping and pecans if desired. This recipe yields 10 to 12 servings.
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