One of the first grown-up desserts I ever made was a cheesecake. Some people think they're hard to make (maybe because you can't buy a mix in a box?), but they're a cinch. You can vary the crusts (Oreo, graham cracker, gingersnap, vanilla wafer), fillings and toppings almost endlessly. Hey, guess that's why someone built a whole restaurant chain around them. They impress, for sure. Creamy sweet filling paired with a slightly crunchy crust. It feels decadent and indulgent. This variety is one of my favorites. It has a dense texture and not-too-sweet plump cherries on top.
14 sheets graham crackers
1 stick melted butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/16 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350º. Finely grind crackers, salt and sugar in a food processor. Drizzle in melted butter while the processor is running. You should have a wet sand texture. Press firmly into bottom and up sides of a 9 "springform pan ( I like my cheesecake with high sides so I go up to an 1/2 inch from the rim). Try and spread it as evenly as possible (so you don't have a thick crust in the corners and super thin in the middle). Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool. Wipe down food processor bowl and blade for filling prep.
3 packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
Blend cream cheese and sugar in processor until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and blend. Add flour, sour cream and vanilla and blend once more. Pour into cooled crust and bake at 350º for 45 minutes. Some brown spots may appear on the top. This doesn't bother me as I prefer a somewhat dryer texture and I cover them up with cherries anyway. Cool on rack for 30 minutes, then cover loosely and refrigerate for 1 hour before adding topping. Carefully run a sharp knife around pan to loosen any stuck crust (don't worry if if some falls off ) and release sides of pan.
5 cups frozen dark sweet cherries
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 tablespoons water
Put gelatin in small bowl, pour water over and let sit to soften. Put cherries (un-thawed), sugar and lemon juice in saucepan and bring to a boil, gently stirring. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes until cherries are warm all the way through. Remove from heat and take out 1/4 cup of cherry juice (save and combine with sparkling water for a tasty beverage). Add gelatin mixture to cherries, stir gently to dissolve and let cool down for 15 minutes or so. Carefully spoon cherries on top of cooled cake, then drizzle juice over the top evenly. Cover and chill for another 2-3 hours or overnight. Take out of refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.
|Not the neatest slice, but you get the idea.|