If you’ve ever been intimated to attempt a cheesecake, don’t worry you are not alone. One bite of that soft creamy filling and that buttery crumbly biscuit and it’s easy to think that it is an impossible feat to recreate.
Northbridge Plaza's food ambassador, Rey is here to demystify the cheesecake and make it as accessible for you as any cake or dessert tart. Once you know a few cheeky tricks, the rest is really a piece of cheesecake!
Cheesecakes will forever remind me of my time in New York. The New York cheesecake is dense and rich but oh-so smooth and creamy. It is made with a combination of cream cheese and heavy cream or sour cream. For this recipe I’ve opted for sour cream as it tends to make the cheesecake a little more resilient and help it keep longer.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Tip 1 : Always make sure that your ingredients are room temperature. That’s the cream cheese, the eggs and the sour cream. When the ingredients are at room temperature they are creamier and easier to blend. If they are too cold, you risk capturing too much air and end up with a lumpy and incohesive batter.
Tip 2 : Always use a springform tin and grease the edges lightly. You want something that is easy to remove and you want to avoid any sticking to the edges. The cheesecake is delicate and ultimately you want to avoid jeopardising its form.
Tip 3 : Avoid overmixing. It is important to mix the filling well to remove any lumps but overmixing will result in too much air which could cause cracks in the cake later. Having the ingredients at room temperature will aid with the blending.
Tip 4 : Add a bit of flour to the batter at the end. The starch in the flour interacts with the egg proteins preventing them from sticking together. It can also prevent those nasty unsightly cracks on the top of your cake.
Tip 5 : Strain your cheesecake through a sieve onto the crust. I can’t stress how important this tip is to achieve maximum creaminess. Even if you have forgotten tricks one through four, this simple step will ensure all the lumps and chunks are removed or at least reduced to a bare minimum.
Tip 7 : The water bath. Cooking your cake in a large roasting tray filled halfway up with water will help distribute the heat evenly during the baking process. It also helps to create humidity during the bake, allowing the cake to stay moist and soft. Be sure to double wrap you cake tin in foil so that no water seeps in.
Tip 8 : Do not overbake. When you remove the cake it make look a bit jiggly. That’s okay. So long as it is lightly browned and slightly firm on the edges you are good to go. It will continue to cook through even as it cools and it will fully set once you put it in the fridge.
My personal twist on the quintessential New York Style cheesecake is the addition of macadamia nuts in the base and a high quality honey in the filling, both of which I have sourced from Naked Foods. The nuts here are truly amazing. If you don’t like macadamia nuts you can easily substitute with pistachios, almonds or hazelnuts, all of which work deliciously well with this recipe. Just keep the ratios the same. The nuts really help elevate the base and take the biscuit to that next level.
Finally, for the topping I’ve chosen a jar of Amarene cherries in syrup which I’ve sourced from Simon Johnson. I love these cherries because they have a tartness that beautifully complement the sweeter base. They also look sensational. I’ve also tried this recipe with Bonne Maman Raspberry Jam (which you can find at LoSurdo's) and more simply with fresh berries; both fantastic alternatives to the cherry jam.
125g salted butter
1 ½ cup of Digestive cookie crumbs
½ cup of blitzed raw macadamia nuts (sourced from Naked Foods)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
750 g full fat Philadelphia cheese
1 ½ cup sour cream
1 cup icing sugar
¼ honey (sourced from Naked Foods)
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons of white flour
1 jar Amarene sour cherries in syrup (sourced from Simon Johnson)
Fresh berries to serve (sourced from LoSurdo's)
Fresh flowers to decorate (sourced from Floressence)
Start with your base. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. In a small saucer melt your butter over the stove. Blitz your macadamia nuts and digestive biscuits.
In a large mixing bowl add the blitzed Digestives, macadamia nuts, brown sugar and melted butter. Mix well with your hands. It will start to resemble a sandy mixture of crumble.
Line a 19cm springform cake tin with baking paper and lightly grease edges. Cover base with crumble mixture. Gently spread the mixture out to edges and a little up the side to form a lip for the cake. Once the base is fully covered firmly press down the crust with your hands and push it slightly up the side of the tin. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Remove the crust and turn oven down to 160 degrees Celsius.
Fill a large roasting tray halfway up with water. Place in oven and allow water to warm up. The tray should be large enough to fit your cake tin. This will be used later for the water bath.
While the crust cools prepare your cheesecake filling. In a stand mixer with paddle, cream the cream cheese (room temperature) on medium low speed for 2 minutes. Avoid high speeds because this will get too much air in the batter. Scrape the cream cheese from sides whenever necessary. Add in sour cream (room temperature), icing sugar, honey and vanilla and beat for another minute. Add eggs one by one and mix in completely. Remove from stand and sift in flour. Mix in with spatula.
Next cover the base of your cake tin with two layers of tin foil. Wrap tightly around the base and edges. This will protect it from water when you cook the cheesecake in the bath of water.
Strain the batter through a mesh strainer or sieve over the prepared crust. This will remove any lumps and make it SUPER creamy. Bang the cake tin on counter a few times to remove air bubbles.
Place cheesecake gently into your water bath and place in oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cheesecake will be slightly gold when your remove but still pale. Allow to cool for 1 hour before placing in fridge for another 3 hours to cool completely.
Top with sour cherry jam and decorate with roses. Serve with fresh berries. And there you have it, the creamiest cheesecake you have ever tasted!