Ed and his family love cheesecake so I made him one for his birthday in January 2010. I like cheesecake too, but only in small amounts because I find it always sits heavily in my stomach. So you can imagine how happy I was when I found a cheesecake recipe that’s light and rich without the heaviness. I went through 3 other recipes before I fell in love with this one. I especially like that you can get a smooth top on the cheesecake without using a waterbath. If you prefer New York style cheesecake (ie. a dense cheesecake, like Ed does, simply omit the sour cream). Also, note that this recipe uses a shortbread crust as opposed to the more commonly used graham cracker crust. I prefer the shortbread where Ed prefers the graham. I tried both and found that the graham cracker crust burnt more easily and was more likely to get soggy.
from King Arthur Flour
for the shortbread cookie crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg at room temperature
for the filling
2 pounds (four 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
for the fruit glaze:
1 or 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) tart cherries in water (*Note: could substitute with 1 quart fresh or frozen fruit of your choice*)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 drops red food coloring (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan. (*Note: I also line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper that has been cut to fit.*)
For the crust: In a mixing bowl with a paddle, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Mix until the mixture is crumbly, then add the egg and continue to mix until a soft dough forms. Press the dough on the bottom and an inch up the sides of the prepared pan; dock with a fork, and bake for 15 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Reduce the oven temperature to just under 325°F.
For the filling: Place the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl with a paddle. Add the sugar and flour, and mix at Low speed until there are no lumps. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix again at least twice during this process, to be sure no cheese is sticking. Add the salt (1/4 tsp), and vanilla, and mix to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated and scraping the mixing bowl between additions. Add lemon zest. Stir in the sour cream.
Pour the filling over the crust. Smooth out with offset spatula and bake for 45 to 50 minutes (check it 10 minutes earlier), until the edges of the cake are set one inch in from the edge. The middle should still jiggle when you nudge the pan; in fact, the cake will look underbaked. Measure the temperature of the cake an inch (to an inch and a half) from the edge: when it reaches 175°F (160 on my candy thermometer), turn off the oven. Blemish from where you took the temperature will get covered up with berries. Top will seem juicy about 3 inches across the centre. If it is too hot, cake will crack and be too dry and grainy.
Prop open the door (with oven mits, for example), and let the cheesecake cool slowly in the oven for 1 hour (set timer). During this time the center will finish setting. Cooling the cake slowly will keep the top from cracking and ensure a smooth, even texture inside. Refrigerate cheesecake while you make the topping.
For the glaze: Whisk together the water, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan until the cornstarch dissolves. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils, becomes clear, and thickens. Remove from the heat and add the food coloring and the drained cherries. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then spoon it over the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate the cake until you’re ready to serve.