Monday, June 18, 2007

Sherri's Helpful Hints

Making a Perfect Cheesecake

Cheesecake is a rich, luscious dessert and when decorated with whipped cream, fruit or berries or a glaze, it can be an elegant accompaniment to a wonderful meal. Though colorful when topped, cheesecake is rich and delicious enough to stand on its own without any topping. If you love cheesecake, but are intimidated by an ill-conceived notion of complexity, you can relax - it is a very easy dessert to prepare. Just follow these tips:

Baking Techniques:

Use a springform pan, which has a mechanism that allows the bottom to separate from the sides. This makes removing the cake much easier.

Place a shallow pan of water in the oven during baking. It keeps the cheesecake from drying out and cracking.

Tricks of the Trade:

Ingredient information: Let all of the cheesecake ingredients stand at room temperature before blending. This ensures easy mixing and a much smoother batter.

You may top a cheesecake with anything that appeals to you, but do not substitute any of the main ingredients. The balance of wet and dry ingredients must not be compromised.

Traditional cheesecake is well-suited to fresh fruit toppings. You can experiment with an assortment of colorful fresh fruit to create your own beautiful garnish.

Preparing the Perfect Cheesecake:

Beating the cheese: Once the cheese is beaten until smooth and creamy, gradually add the other ingredients by beating or stirring gently. If too much air is incorporated into the batter, the cake may crack.

Making the crumb crust: When making a crumb crust, it is important to finely grind the graham crackers or cookies for a more uniform crust. Pat the crumb mixture firmly and evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Ricotta cheese tip: If you are making a cheesecake with ricotta cheese (which is delicious), you will have better results if you remove all the excess liquid from the cheese by draining it in a colander set over a bowl.

Removing the pan: Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven with the door ajar for 1 full hour before taking the pan out. Run a thin-bladed knife around the cheesecake to loosen from the pan.

If you do make mistakes: Sometimes things happen; if you do have a cheesecake that has a crack or two, don't panic. Cover the top with fresh fruit and mint leaves or a pie filling such as cherry, blueberry or blackberry.

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