Monthly Archives: March 2018

Cheesecake

Do you like cheesecake?  I do and will quite often order it as a dessert when eating out.  I had never baked one until just recently.  I thought making a cheesecake would be too difficult and time consuming.  After baking one, I don’t think that cheesecakes are that difficult to make.

Cheesecake is a sweet dessert usually consisting of two layers.  The main layer and also the thickest consists of a batter of soft fresh cheese, cream cheese or ricotta, eggs, vanilla and sugar.  The bottom layer is made from crushed cookies, usually graham crackers.  Cheesecake is normally baked and after cooling can be topped with many different delicious toppings.

William Lawrence, an American dairyman, of Chester, NY is credited with first producing and selling cream cheese.  This was in 1872.  Lawrence later sold the Philadelphia trademark to the Phoenix Cheese Company which was purchased by Kraft in 1928.  Kraft still produces the cream cheese today.  Source

I used a recipe from Kraft and original recipe can be found here.  The recipe doesn’t call for a water bath but I baked my cheesecake in one.  I also added one tablespoon of flour to the cheese mixture.  A water bath and flour are supposed to help prevent cracks in the cheesecake.  The prep time for this recipe is only about 30 minutes but several hours are required for the cooling process.

Cheesecake

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Graham Cracker Crust:

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

For the Filling:

3 pkg. (8-oz each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon four
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and 1/4 cup sugar.  Pour the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan.  Press the crumbs firmly into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the pan.  Bake until the crust is fragrant and warm to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes.  Let the pan cool on a rack while you prepare the cheesecake batter.

With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy, scraping down the side occasionally.  Beat in the sour cream, sugar, flour, and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended.

Wrap the cooled springform pan with foil, over bottom and sides, making sure it comes to the top edge so water from the water bath won’t leak in.  Double wrap if necessary.  Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust.

Place the wrapped springform pan in a boiler pan or shallow-sided roasting pan.  Place in the preheated oven.  Pour enough hot water into the pan to come about 1 inch up side of foil wrapped springform pan.

Bake in center of preheated oven for about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until center is almost set.  Remove pan to a rack.  Run a knife around inside of cake pan to help prevent cracking.  Let stand until water cools, about 30 minutes.  Remove pan from the water.  Discard foil.  Cool completely to room temperature.  Chill the cheesecake, uncovered, for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.

After chilling, unlock the spring on the springform pan and carefully lift off the outer ring.  Cut into slices and serve.  Serve with raspberry sauce if desired.

Notes:
1.  All ingredients for the cheesecake should be at room temperature.
2.  For great tips on making cheesecake visit thekitchn web site.  A great site for answers to any cooking or baking questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Cheese Manicotti

Winter doesn’t want to end its grip on us.  We did have one nice day in February when it actually seemed like Spring.

I suppose the winter weather gives us an opportunity to cook up some comfort food.  One of my favorite Italian-American comfort foods is manicotti, and it is also very easy to make.

Manicotti are a cheesy stuffed pasta and usually topped with a tomato sauce.  Spinach is quite often added to the filling.  Some cooks like to make homemade crepes to stuff the filling in.  This recipe uses the dry manicotti shells that are typically boiled before filling.  The filling can vary but I prefer one made of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses.  The pasta is then baked in a homemade or jarred tomato sauce.  I used my homemade tomato sauce for pasta and the recipe can be found here.

Manicotti are similar to cannelloni in Italy.  DeLallo, a US company that produces specialty Italian food, has an interesting article on the two pastas here.

Three Cheese Manicotti

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 box (14 shells) manicotti
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3-4 cups tomato sauce, homemade or your favorite jarred sauce

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Cook the manicotti shells in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Drain and lay on baking sheet lined with parchment paper to dry and cool.  Cover with paper towels while cooling.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce along the bottom of the dish.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese,  parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, salt and pepper until smooth.  Fill each cooked manicotti with the cheese mixture.  (Use either a disposable pastry bag or ziplock bag (quart or gallon size) snipped at the corner to fill the manicotti.)

After filling each manicotti, place it into the sauce-lined baking dish.  Pour the remaining sauce over the shells.  Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling.  Uncover, top with the remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.  Bake for another 10 minutes.  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with additional tomato sauce if desired.  

Notes:
1.  I divided the manicotti between two baking trays and froze one for later use.
2.  When you boil the manicotti shells, don’t over cook them.  They will be less likely to tear when filling them.