Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cheesecake Factory at Home

I was reviewing my blog stats on the weekend, when I found that 16 visits in the last month to my other duller blog with a duller name, came from searches for "low calorie cheesecake!" And the page that these searches led to was Janis Joplin's birthday post. I wondered about the 16 people, not entirely without regret, and hoped that they had found what they wanted elsewhere.  In an act of pointless compassion, I searched for the exact phrase "low calorie cheesecake," and was shocked to find 94,900 results. The internet is truly amazing. You might even come across a "humble blogger" some day. However, it inspired me to finally reply to the two emails that had asked about keeping this blog alive, and to battle my anhedonia with the only known cure for anhedonia - a good cheesecake.

You will need
1/2 kg Cream cheese (fresh paneer blended well before use works fine)
100 g Sugar
3 Egg yolks (use the whites to make one heart healthy omelet for dinner, obviously only for him, who else would you serve that tasteless thing to!)
200 g digestive biscuits (this is how it is traditionally done, but if you want to do it our way, use the chocolate cream biscuits, more of the bad stuff, but tastier, and the chocolate biscuits turn into something altogether different when they are baked a second time)
50 g Butter(chop it into very small cubes while chilled)

The Crust
Throw the biscuits into a paper bag or a ziploc and crush them like Nigella with a rolling pin and put the traumatized biscuits into a blender. Process till crumbly. Take it out in a bowl and add the butter pieces. Rub the butter with your fingers into the biscuit crumbs till they are gone, and keep mixing till it is evenly spread all over the crumbs, Take this mix and press it into the base of the baking tin, making sure to spread it evenly and into the edges. Place the tin in the deep freezer for about 30 minutes.

The Filling
Put the cottage cheese, sugar, and egg yolks in the blender and blend at low speed till smooth. This should not take more than 1 or 2 minutes. Curb the temptation to go to higher speeds or to blend for longer. Take out the tin with the crust from the freezer, and pour the filling into the tin. In an oven preheated to 170, put the tin in the middle rack and bake for 50 minutes.

The Seasoning
The trick of making good cheesecake is to let it season and rest at every stage. Don't open the oven, but let it stay in the switched off oven for another hour. Take it out after that. There is no way you can undo anything that may have gone wrong, so don't even bother with checking. If you are going to be putting a topping, do that now, and stick it into the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. I have found it best to make cheesecake after dinner, since you are full and don't feel bad about putting this devil-sent cake into the fridge overnight.

The topping
You can let your imagination run wild as far as cheesecake topping is concerned. A classic chocolate topping can be made by melting 25 g butter with 50 g of castor sugar, stirred till bubbling and light brown, to which you add 100 g of dark chocolate, and 50 g of fresh cream and lower the heat, and stir till smooth and free from lumps. Pour this over the cheesecake before you refrigerate. You can also do this 30 minutes into the baking, and let it bake with the cake for the remainder of the time.

The Flipping
If you have not used a springform tin or a tin with a removable bottom, you will have to go around the edges with a spatula, nudging each time at the crust at the bottom, kind of pressing the crust and the cake inwards. As you do this all around the edge, you will feel the crust leave the tin, and the cake move freely. Place a plate over the tin, and holding the tin and plate firmly together, flip. Now take another plate, place it over the inverted cake on the plate, and gently holding the two plates together so that they don't press on the cake, flip again.  Done.

The Secrets
Many small secrets go into the perfect cheesecake. Do not overdo the blending of the ingredients. The light and fluffy of a cheesecake comes from the bake and rest time and the ingredients, not the air beaten into it. Smooth the cheesecake down with the back of a spoon after pouring the filling, this will help pop any air bubbles in the filling. Some cheesecake masters bake at 150 for an hour and let it rest in the oven for another hour. Use a springform tin or a baking tin with a removable bottom if you cannot get a springform tin. If you don't have either, microwave a wet kitchen towel on high for 5 minutes and then place it over the bottom of the baking tin after you have flipped it on the plate; this will help melt the butter and loosen the crust up and make it easier for the cake to plop out. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before you start. Cling wrap the cake when refrigerating it so that it does not pick up any odors.

The Truth
There is no such thing as a low calorie cheesecake. Cheesecake was never meant to be low calorie. The ones you can buy commercially are only marginally more dangerous than this recipe. Cheesecake was invented by the devil himself to add those kilos to your weight and test your resolve to have just one small piece and then stop, and there is pretty much nothing anyone can do about it. This is the ultimate proof of human powerlessness!  No point feeling guilty, just give in and surrender.