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I’m a Bad, BAD Girl April 13, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, Giveaway, random stuff.
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First thing – if you haven’t entered our knife giveaway, be sure to skip on over there and leave a comment for a chance to win the drawing for a Victorinox 8-inch chef’s knife!  Peeps will be firing up the Random Number Generator Thursday at 3PM Eastern time, and he’ll announce the winner Friday morning, so be sure to get your entry in!

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Isn’t that the way you feel after making cheesecake?  Or is that just me?

I love cheesecake – what’s not to love?  One of my favorite stay-as-far-away-as-I-can places in town is a cheesecake shop called Cheesy Eddie’s – I haven’t actually been there in years.  It’s that good!

Then Peeps brought some ricotta cheese home – a salesman had left a sample (several pounds) for his boss, who had no interest in it, so. . . hey, cheese!

And we made lasagna, and I used it as a pizza topping, then I saw a recipe for a cheesecake.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’ve had cheesecake made with ricotta before, and I have a To-Die-For recipe for an Italian cheesecake that calls for a healthy portion of ricotta.

But here’s the thing.  Peeps is from the NYC area and is not a huge fan of ricotta-based cheesecake. (I’m not saying he’ll turn it down or anything – he’s not an idiot.  I’m just saying that there’s a clear preference, that’s all.)

PhotobucketThen it happened.  I found a recipe.

That’s how it always starts, isn’t it?

Fine Cooking published – and emailed to me! – a recipe for cannoli cheesecake.

Let me clarify.

Cheesecake that is based on cannoli filling.  With a crust of vanilla wafers.

I’m going to be honest here.  I’m not the biggest fan of cannoli.

The filling – that I could eat all day, but the pastry?  As often as not, I find it heavy and greasy, and it’s just not worth it.  Sure, every now and then, you find a great cannoli, but usually, not so much.

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But replace the heavy, greasy shell with ‘Nilla wafers?  Dude!  I am all OVER that!

So the better part of a box of vanilla wafers (8 ounces) got Cuininarted, then a bit more sugar (3 Tablespoons), a pinch of salt, and 7 Tablespoons of melted butter, then pressed into a springform pan.

Since the springform pan is (supposedly) non-stick, and since it’s virtually impossible to remove cheesecake from the base of the pan before it’s sliced, I decided to get smart – I layered the base of the pan with a sheet of parchment, then locked the ring on – now, when all is said and done, (and cooled) I’ll just transfer the parchment, cheesecake and all, to a cutting board.  HA!  No more slice marks on the bottom of the pan!

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See, I’m not so dumb as I look!

Oh, but wait.  The recipe calls for 1/3 cup of mini chocolate chips.

Um, here’s the thing.  There’s chocolate chips and there’s chocolate chips.  We use Ghiardelli’s bittersweet chocolate chips, and, to be honest, we’re quite happy with them.  I really don’t care to buy a package of some other, lesser, mini-chocolate chips for just 1/3 cup.  So, since the Cuisinart was still out anyway, well, I just whacked up the good chocolate chips until they were “mini.”

I tried to, anyway.  What I actually got was some severely chewed up chocolate chips and a lot of chocolate chip dust.

Oh well.  By that point, there was no turning back!

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So on to the filling.

Mmm. . . the filling!

A cup of ricotta and 3 8-oz blocks of cream cheese – yeah, baby!  And, because I’m not really completely decadent, I actually subbed (1/3 less fat) neufchatel for one of the cream cheese.

Yeah.  Next time, I’ll try two – it’s the least I can do!

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Once the cheeses, along with a bit of flour and a pinch of salt, were smooth (and I mean  Santana-smooth), in went the sugar.

Beat that until it’s smooth, then add the slightly pulverized chocolate chips, the zest of an orange, and a tablespoon of GOOD vanilla.

I used the vanilla extract we started around the holidays – it was nice and vanilla-y by now!

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Once those items were incorporated, then I just mixed in 4 eggs, one at a time.

And here’s something interesting – the recipe said not to overbeat the batter, or the cheesecake would puff up.

Really?  I mean, I never really thought about it, but if I had, I’d definitely fall into the “a heavy cheesecake is a good cheesecake” camp, you know?  And that’s what makes it puffy – overbeating the eggs?

Huh.  You learn something new every day, I guess.  Huh.

PhotobucketSo.  Once the eggs are incorporated (barely), then I poured it into the baked crust, and into the 300° oven it went, for about an hour – until the edges started to puff up, but the center was still loose and jiggly.

Honestly, you’re best off baking this in the evening, maybe after dinner, so you can let it cool ever-so-slowly right in the oven – temperature changes are not good for  cheesecake.

It’s best to start with room temperature ingredients, and it’s best to let the cake cool to room temperature as gradually as possible before refrigerating.  That is the best way to avoid cracking. . .

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Though I’ve got to say – a little crack in the top of your cheesecake isn’t the end of the world.  I mean, what?

Oh, dear.  There is a crack in that slice of cheesecake.  I can’t serve that. I’d better get rid of it.

Nom nom nom.

There, all gone.

Yeah.  You’re gonna wish for cracks – this stuff is AMAZING!  Yes, even with the hacked-up chocolate chips, and even with the 1/3 less fat cream cheese – it was still absolutely amazing.

So amazing that we cut the cake into 16 pieces, wrapped each piece individually, and immediately stuck them in the freezer – just so we wouldn’t be tempted to try to justify eating cheesecake for an entire meal.

I would suggest you do the same.

Printable version here.

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Comments

1. sjbraun - April 13, 2010

That looks absolutely amazing! Better than the Cheesecake Factory, and that, to me, is high praise! Too bad you don’t live closer, as I’d love to “borrow” you the day we bake for the 4-H fair. My girls would have a much better chance with your expert knowledge …

Darn it! My mouth is watering, just thinking of those mini chocolate chips!!

Aww, thank you.

You know, I’ve never actually been to Cheesecake Factory – there’s one on the other side of town, but, well, I guess I just don’t get out much!

And seriously, that cheesecake was dead easy – it just takes a little patience (and, you know, making sure your ingredients are room temperature when you start). What I’d really love is those little tins with the removable bottoms – how awesome would it be to make wee little individual cheesecakes?

Alas, if I got those, then I’d have to make cheesecake more than once a decade (to justify the cost of the pans, you know), and, well, that would just not be good.

So I suffer.

2. Alanna Kellogg - April 13, 2010

I’m a sucker for instant gratification with recipes too — it takes much restraint to not run to the kitchen RIGHT NOW to make something new. Work? Oh right. Laundry? Tomorrow. Today I must bake!

Exactly! But then I need to give half of it away, and try to hide the rest in the freezer somewhere.

Oh, the self-control!

3. Anna - April 13, 2010

That looks absolutely decadent! Yum. =)

But I used one light cream cheese. . . 😉


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