Wednesday, July 8, 2009

As Close to Flan...

... as one gets on an island.
Cream cheeseLet's all just assume you read my Enchilada Casserole post and make nice about it. I brought the recipe with me on my first visit to Maine seven years ago. You should have seen the looks of utter skepticism on the faces of the younger Webb Cottage denizens as I chopped black olives and prepared the chili sauce. They'd never seen anything more alien. Had there been a McDonald's within swimming distance, I might have been the only one eating Mexican food that night. Open revolt hung in the balance. Luckily for me, good nurturing parents won out and everyone agreed to try a bite before passing judgment. Well, as I stated in that earlier post, I had a houseful of new converts on my hands. The casserole now makes a command performance every year and I have an army of eager helping hands in the kitchen.
But what to do about dessert? In case you haven't noticed, sweets are a highly charged subject within the Chebeague clan. Muffy, High Priestess of the Menu, put the kibosh on flan as too impractical and totally un-islandish. I have to say I agreed. Cheesecake was the populist compromise.
Three Cities of Spain Cheesecake – adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook
  • 3 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 1Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1lb sour cream
  • Crumb crust (recipe to follow)
Preheat oven to 350°. Beat cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Put 9” spring form pan with crust on a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust. Bake until cake is set 3 inches from edges, but center is still slightly wobbly, about 45 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.) Stir together sour cream, remaining sugar and remaining vanilla in a medium bowl. Drop spoonfuls of topping around edges of cake and then spread evenly over the top. Bake cake an additional 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, and then let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Refrigerate cake, loosely covered for at least 6 hours. Remove side of pan, transfer cake to a plate and bring to room temperature before serving.
Graham Cracker Crumb Crust
  • 1½ cups finely ground graham crackers
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1⁄3 cup sugar
  • ⅛ tsp salt
Stir together all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Press into bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a buttered spring form pan. Fill with cake batter immediately, or keep crust refrigerated for up to 2 hours.
Box of graham cracker crumbsForming graham cracker crustAdd eggs to beaten cream cheese
Pour cheese batter into spring form moldGently tap pan to release any bubbles in batterCheesecake rising in the oven
Cheesecake, and not apple pie, ought to be America's dessert. There are dozens of variations and we love them all, but there's nothing quite like fresh berries adorning a fat slice of cheesecake to get the mouth watering and forks whirring.
Cheesecake and fresh blueberries
I am fast becoming a dessert man, and am now leaving room for something sweet after dinner. There goes my girlish figure.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

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