Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Best Cheesecake? ... so says a friend

Here's what a friend says is an amazingly good cheesecake recipe.  If you try it, leave a comment.  I hope to make it sometime soon!

Janet’s Cheesecake Recipe and Baking Instructions
This recipe came to me from a woman who had the nerve to walk into a Christmas party at my sister in law’s house after I had spent hours making apple pie from scratch.  I was sure my dessert would be such a blessing to everyone there.  However, when this lady walked in with this beeeeautiful cheesecake with cherries on top, all heads turned and mouths gaped.  Turns out this lady was a former caterer and this was her best recipe.  By some sort of luck, I managed to wrestle the recipe out of this lady, and have used it so many times to bless my family and others.  It is such a blessing to be able to truly make a wonderfully delicious and beautiful dessert like this.  It’s not hard, but just a little fussy. 
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup melted butter
1/3 cup sugar
3 Pounds Cream Cheese softened
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla
6 eggs
15 oz can sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup lemon juice

Optional Toppings:
Cherry Pie filling
Cool Whip or frosting
Melted chocolate chips
Take your springform pan and find a larger pan that is at least 2-3 inches deep that you can set your springform pan down into for baking.  I use a large aluminum 10x13 pan.  This is called a ‘water bath’ and isn’t totally necessary, but helps make a smoother, less dry cheesecake.  Wrap a double layer of heavy duty foil around the springform pan, to prevent seepage of water into the pan. 

Grease springform pan. (note to self:  didn’t I put waxed paper down in a circle the first time?  Helps it come out easier to transfer, or reduces cut marks on my pan when cutting) Mix crust ingredients in the pan and press up the sides and bottom of pan to make the crust.  Keep in mind this will be visible when you serve the cheesecake, so try to make the sides as even as you can.  I just put my crust a tiny bit up the side and that was great.  Put your springform pan down into your larger pan to prepare for the ‘water bath’.
With electric mixer, beat all cream cheese until smooth.  Add sugar and vanilla and beat till creamy.  Add 6 eggs and sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice.  When mixture is creamy, pour into crust. NOTE: The cheesecake batter makes a lot more than fits into my springform pan so I make some cupcakes with it.  I might even be able to make two smaller cheesecakes if I had another springform pan. 
Put 1-2 inches of water (your ‘water bath’) into the larger pan that surrounds your springform pan.  Be careful not to let any water seep into your cheesecake pan, nor spill in as you are putting it in the oven.

 Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 min to an hour (maybe longer), OR until the cheesecake begins to rise a bit and a little bit of browning on the edges.  Do NOT let it rise too much or it will crack.  The cheesecake will be almost set.  Let it cool at room temperature and then chill overnight (or a couple of days). It will come out of the pan easily when it’s cold. 
Before serving, you may add a border of Coolwhip with a pastry bag around the edges to make a pretty border, and add a can of cherry pie filling in the middle.  Or you can drizzle melted choc chips over the top (if they don’t melt well enough in your double boiler, add a little bit of Crisco).  This looks fancy but is really easy.  The cherries also hide any imperfections on the top of the cheesecake, and they look beautiful and very festive!

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