Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cherry Cheesecake for Joe!

Photo by Meg McCluskey
Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Joe!  This Saturday my friend's husband, Joe, celebrated his 35th birthday!  Joe and Leann are very special people in our loves, and I was honored when Leann asked me to make his birthday cake!
Joe and Leann have been blessed with two  beautiful children.  Zach, and their most recent addition, Jaden.  Jaden is an ultra premie, and his mommy has her own blog where she shares their journey.  It has been a struggle for all involved, but everyday God gives them more blessings and Jaden gets bigger and stronger, and dare I say even cuter!  Leann is an amazing writer, and she is great a capture the entire experience!
Anyway, so needless to say, Leann is a little busy to be spending the day in the kitchen making Joe's birthday cheesecake.  Lucky for her, I bake every now and then ;)
When I asked Leann specifics about what Joe liked in a cheesecake, I discovered that he likes cherry flavor, but doesn't really like cherries.  He "is fine" with whipped cream, but not store bought (no big deal, I never use store bought).  So, I decided to make a new york style cheesecake with cherry syrup incorporated into the cheesecake.  Not only will using the syrup capture that cherry flavor that he loves, but it will give me a great excuse to make pretty patterns on top of the cheesecake.  Score!!!

Graham Cracker Crust
8 graham crackers (broken into rough pieces and processed in food processor until uniformly fine)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
5 Tbsp unslated butter, melted, plus 1 Tbsp melted butter for greasing pan

2-1/2 lbs cream cheese, cut into small pieces and left to soften for 30 minutes
1/8 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar (10-1/2 oz)
1/3 cup sour cream (2-1/2 oz)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
6 whole large eggs
1 can cherry topping

1. For the crust: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar in medium bowl; add 5 Tbsp melted butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened. Brush bottom and sides of 9 inch springform pan with most of remaining melted butter, making sure to leave enough to brush pan in step 3. Empty crumbs into spingform pan and press evenly into pan bottom.

bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around edges, about 13 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling. 
2. For the cheesecake filling: increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. IN standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula; add salt and about half of sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined about 1 minute. Scrape bowl; beat in remaining sugar until combined about 1 minute.  Scrape bowl; add sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla, and beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl; add yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl; add whole eggs two at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, and scraping bowl between additions. 

4. Seperate cherries from syrup. Add syrup to pipping bag fitted with a round tip (I used a 230). 
3. Brush sides of springform pan with remaining melted butter. Set springform pan on rimmed baking sheet (to catch any spills if springform pan leaks). Pour  1/2 of filling into cooled crust. Pipe several straight lines across the cake.  

Then place a toothpick perpendicular to the lines and run the toothpick through quickly. Repeat several times.  

Fill the pan with the remainder of the filling and repeat the cherry piping and design. Bake 10 minutes; without opening oven door, reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until instant-read themometer inserted into center of cheesecake registers about 150 degrees, about 1-1/2 hours. Transfer cake to wire rack and cool 5 minutes; run paring knife between cake and side of springform pan. Cool until barely warm, 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours (Cake can be refrigerated up to 4 days.)
4. To unmold cheesecake, remove sides to pan. Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto serving plate. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.  

Photo by Meg McCluskey

Source: Cook's Illustrated