There are few desserts as rich and delicious as cheesecake. Personally, I prefer cookies, but Piyush–who swears he does not like sweets!–is definitely a “cheesecake man.”
In fact, he likes it so much that it’s all he wanted for Christmas. No presents, just cheesecake. Heck, that’s easy enough!
I first made this particular cheesecake during the last season of Master Chef. There was a pressure test where the contestants had to bake a cheesecake in an hour. I was stunned! At that point I had never actually baked a homemade cheesecake before, but I knew it had to take longer than an hour!
Piyush, spotting an opportunity, told me that he didn’t think I could bake a perfect cheesecake on the first try. He always uses this kind of “reverse psychology” on me when he wants me to do something for him, and because I like a challenge…I always succumb to it! I suppose you could say he’s got me figured out.
Anyway, I did some research. I checked out different recipes and got the basic idea of what to do. Nowhere did I find a recipe that took less than 1.5 hours, and most took closer to 2.5 or 3 hours to ensure a perfect, crack-free cheesecake. Master Chef must have used a little TV magic… (if you have any inside-knowledge on how they baked those gorgeous cakes in an hour, please let me know in the comments. I’m truly interested!).
I knew I didn’t want to mess around with a water bath because I didn’t want to take the chance of my pan leaking or me spilling boiling water all over myself (which was more likely to happen!). Because I didn’t use a water bath, I lowered the oven temperature and increased the baking/cooling time. This worked fabulously!
So I settled on basic cheese cake recipe from allrecipes.com. I liked that the recipe seemed simple enough and there was a lot of room to change things up and really make it mine.
I started by throwing together the crust. This was really easy and it came together quickly. I tossed some ground walnuts, ground Biscoff cookies, chai masala and butter into a bowl. I mixed everything together and pressed it into the bottom and up the sides of my springform pan (10 inch pan).
I decided to use the Biscoff cookies instead of regular graham crackers because they have such a delicious, spicy flavor to them. I wanted something a little different than normal. If you don’t have Biscoff, graham crackers (or any other dry cracker-type thing) would make a great substitute.
Also, when I’m grinding my walnuts and biscoff, I do the walnuts separately. I like my crust to have a little texture. You’ll notice when you see the completed cheesecake, there are decent size chunks of walnuts in the crust.
I tossed the crust in a preheated oven for about 12 minutes, just long enough for it to slightly darken and set.
While the crust was baking, I whipped together the filling. Literally. I whipped it! 😀
Because I wanted my cheesecake to be flavored with lemon, I tossed in the zest from one small-medium lemon and 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice.
I mixed it all together, being careful to only mix until it was incorporated. From everything I read, I learned that over beating the cheesecake filling is one of the top reasons why such a delicious cake will turn out with giant, ugly cracks on the top.
After the filling was mixed up, I transferred it into the prepared crust. At this point, you could swirl in some of the Blackberry and Ginger Spiced jam, if you’re looking for a swirled cheesecake. I’ve done it before, and it looks beautiful!
If you notice the top of the cheesecake turning too brown, quickly toss a sheet of aluminum foil over it. This will keep it from taking on any more color.
After 1 hour and 20 minutes passed, I turned off the oven but didn’t open the door. I set the timer for 1 hour and let the cheesecake rest. Once the timer went off, I cracked open the oven door and let the cheesecake cool for about another hour–or until it was cool enough to take apart the springform pan.
Then I slid the cake onto a pretty cake plate (also removing the bottom of the springform. If you can’t remove this plate or you are scared the cake might break, you can leave it on. No problem).
Cheesecake tastes better once it’s been well rested and chilled, so I popped it into the fridge overnight.
The next day we had a snow storm, so Piyush worked from home. He had cheesecake for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner! Delicious!
If you’re on the fence about making this cheesecake because it’s so many calories or the recipe makes more than you could possibly finish (trust me, it’s quick to finish!), fear not! This cheesecake freezes wonderfully! Take what you want and save (or share!) the rest.
I froze a few pieces in plastic containers. Once they were froze solid, I removed them and wrapped in plastic wrap before tossing them back in the containers–just to ensure they stay as fresh as possible.
I know this cheesecake may look a little overwhelming and intimidating, but I promise you that it’s really quite easy to make, just time consuming. And really, once the cake is in the oven you can finish up the dishes or toss in a load of laundry. Maybe even watch the Steve Harvey Show or take a nap? Whatever you want!
I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as my family does! Let me know if you give it a go. I’d love to know how it turns out!
Lemon Cheesecake Recipe
serves 16 (at least!)
recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com
If you choose to make this exact cheesecake, you’ll want to get the jam started just before you begin making the crust. If you don’t want to go through all the trouble, but still like the sound of the blackberry jam, no worries! Read on:
Buy a jar of the store-bought stuff. Get something good though, the cheapest probably isn’t the best option here. Toss it in a medium saucepan along with 1/4 tsp. dried ginger powder, 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom, a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of black pepper. Be sure to taste the mixture and adjust spices to your personal preferences.
Allow the mixture to come to a boil and then remove from heat. When poured on the cheesecake it should be mostly cooled, maybe ever-so-slightly warmed.
It won’t be the same, but it will be good. And you will be happy!
- 3/4 c. coarsely ground walnuts
- 1 1/4 c. ground biscoff cookies
- 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
- 1/4 tsp. chai masala (substitute a mixture of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Once the mixture is slightly damp from the butter, press it into the bottom and up the sides (going as far up as you can with what you have) of a springform pan. My pan is 10 inches.
- Bake in pre-heated oven for about 12 minutes or until the crust begins to take on a little color and it seems set.
- Remove from the oven and set aside.
Don’t be tempted to use “low-fat” versions of the following ingredients. Those products never quite bake the same. Besides, this is a really rich and delicious cheesecake. Enjoy it.
If you’re watching your waistline–as I am–I suggest cutting the slices small and enjoying a sliver rather than a slice.
- 1 c. sugar
- 3 packages cream cheese (8 oz. packages)
- 1 c. heavy whipping cream (heavy cream)
- 1 c. sour cream
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- zest of one small-medium lemon
- 3 tbsp. flour
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. and place your springform pan with the prepared crust onto a cookie sheet. This will help with transferring the cake in and out of the oven.
- Beat together the sugar and the cream cheese until the mixture is well combined. Add the heavy cream and the sour cream. Stir to combine.
- Using a mixer, on the lowest speed possible, beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the lemon juice, zest, vanilla and flour. Beat until just combined. Be careful not to over beat the filling!
- Pour the filling into the crust. Give it a good shake to get any air bubbles out of the filling. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Then turn off oven. Keep the oven door closed and allow the cheesecake to rest in the oven for another hour.
- Crack open the oven door and allow cheesecake to cool completely inside oven. Once the cheesecake is cooled, remove from oven and run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cheesecake from the mold.
- Remove the side of the springform pan and slide the cheesecake off the bottom plate if you are able (if it doesn’t want to budge, that’s okay. Serve it on the plate, no problems).
- Top the cheesecake with the Blackberry and Ginger Spiced Jam and put in the refrigerator to chill overnight.