We know lots of people who absolutely love cheesecake, but we don't know that many folks who'll actually make one. Cheesecakes seem to have unrightfully gained a reputation for being difficult, but they're far from it. In fact, they're a piece of cake! Because they hold up well and freeze like a dream, Ann even made a three-tiered cheesecake for her own wedding reception. There's nothing to it! Check out these two divine recipes, and follow these general guidelines:
You'll need to make your cheesecake in a springform pan―a round pan with high, straight sides (2-1/2 to 3 inches) that expand with the aid of a spring or clamp. The separate bottom of the pan can be removed from the sides when the clamp is released. This allows the cheesecake to be extricated easily by simply removing the pan's sides.
When your cheesecake is done, the center will jiggle slightly; this part should be about 3 inches in diameter. Place the pan on a wire rack, run a knife around the outside edge, and let the cheesecake cool completely to room temperature.
Some cracking on the top is normal in a cheesecake and can even make it look prettier. Generally, the slower the cheesecake is cooked, the less the chance of cracking. So that your cheesecake cooks slowly and evenly, use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven stays at the correct temperature.
These recipes were prepared in two types of springform pans: shiny aluminum and those with a dark, almost black surface. If you use a dark pan, decrease the baking time by 10 minutes.
The best way to cut a cheesecake is with a skinny knife―the thinner the better.
Tips for The Perfect Cheesecake:
There are four ways to get graham cracker crumbs:
1. Buy boxed graham cracker crumbs; the work's already done for you!
2. Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until crumbs form.
3. Use a blender instead of a food processor; just do it in smaller batches, and make sure to pulse, not pulverize.
4. Place the graham crackers in a zip-top plastic bag, and roll with a heavy rolling pin or bottle to make crumbs.
Make sure that you're not scooping your flour. Follow our directions to lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup, and then level off the excess with a knife. If you scoop, you can get up to twice as much flour as intended.
One medium lemon will give you 2 to 3 teaspoons of lemon rind. Be sure to wash the fruit prior to zesting. If you have it, use a citrus zester; otherwise, you can use a fine cheese grater. Only remove the colored part of the peel―the white portion is bitter.
If you don't have cheesecloth, you can line the colander with several layers of heavy-duty paper towels.
Since you're using a water bath to cook this cheesecake, line the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent any water from seeping in.
Tips for Banana-Split Cheesecake:
Look for packaged chocolate cookie crumbs either on the cookie aisle or the baking aisle.
The easiest way to toast nuts is to place them in a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Shake the pan occasionally, and toast until the nuts are lightly browned and fragrant (just a few minutes). Don't skip this step: Toasting the nuts adds tons of flavor.