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Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cheesecakes galore 3 - New York Cheesecake

I love blueberry cheesecakes! I love the combination of the cream cheese and the sweetness of the blueberry syrup on top. It has always been my favourite. And whenever I’m out for a cuppa, a slice of blueberry cheesecake is always the one and only accompaniment to my coffee.

I've made blueberry cheesecakes before, using the recipe from the Filipino Kitchen Library - Desserts, which was a "no-bake" recipe. The core ingredient that held the cake together was the inclusion of a packet of Knox unsweetened gelatin, dissolved in milk. It is a great recipe, and a fairly easy one to prepare too. But I’m yet to perfect the results. Like all tasks, it does take a lot of practice. And I’m yet to discover your love for cheesecakes, so its not always in my regular baking schedule unlike your chocolate crinkle favourites and brownies.

For daddy’s birthday, I’ve prepared his favourite – blueberry cheesecake, with the recipe taken from a recipe book given to me as a birthday present - My Recipe Keeper. The recipe was the simplest I’ve done so far. Thanks to the technology of food processors. If there were no food processors today, we’d probably be using the good old Osterizer (which is the brand that initially introduced the blender), like how Julia Child did it in France during her few years of cooking – an equipment that looked like a stainless steel or copper made colander with another pot at the bottom, and you need to wind the top handle, similar to mashing vegetables such as pumpkins and potatoes.

This cheesecake recipe though, is best kept chilled as it contains straight-forward cream cheese and sour cream, and the only ingredient holding it together is the addition of eggs. Because I prepared this right in the middle of summer, it took a lot of refrigeration to make it perfect. And it is the perfect cheesecake recipe. Easy to make and tastes great.

New york cheesecakes are actually plain cheesecakes. The options for toppings is endless. Simple cocoa dusting, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, crumbled cookies, etc. etc. Maybe like the place itself. Where the possibilities are endless. And the excitement just as great. I haven’t been to NY nor have set foot on any US soil. But I have high hopes that I will soon be walking on the sands of Hawaii. Not that there’s any cheesecakes named after Hawaii. But I’ve done Hawaiian inspired recipes which will be for another time, another post.

In this post, I went for the blueberry topping which was part of the recipe. In the past, I’ve used Comstock Blueberry Filling, which is a US brand not available in Australia. I’ve tried using a local grocery brand (Aldi's American Foods brand and Woolworths Select) in previous tries, but the consistency of the blueberry was not up to my standards. Both brands turned out pale-coloured blueberries and lacked in sweetness. Fresh blueberries are great eaten fresh and one of the best anti-oxidants in the fruit world. But fresh blueberries don’t look good nor taste good as a cheesecake topping. Fortunately, this new recipe included a recipe for blueberry topping. A great experience for me. Turns out, all it takes is arrowroot + caster sugar to make a good sweet-syrupy-shiny-blueberry topping, from yes…. You guessed it right. Fresh blueberries. It was amazing. The transformation of fresh matt skin of the blueberries, to a syrupy translucent shine made me ecstatic. I went from room to room with the warm pot showing everyone how great it looked. I was beaming. The taste was fantastic! So good I wanted to make more blueberry toppings the next day, and the next, and the next.

Of course I didn’t, but in my mind I did. It was just one of those simple culinary milestones that drives me to want to cook more, to try and bake more and to show you how easy it actually is. I’m not a Julia Child/Julie Powell to de-bone a duck, but surely, there must be a time and space for that in the future. Meanwhile, here is the recipe for daddy’s favourite cheesecake.

Read on, try, bake, eat and enjoy. Don’t worry if the cheesecake doesn’t turn out good the first time – the topping will always be the show stopper here. Here’s to arrowroot and all its glory!

New York Cheesecake

Serves 8-10


sunflower oil, for brushing (I used regular vegetable oil spray)

85g / 3 oz butter

200g / 7oz digestive biscuits, crushed (I used the store-bought Nice biscuits)

400g / 14 oz cream cheese (I used 2 packs of Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese)

2 large eggs

140g / 5oz caster sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

450ml / 16 fl oz sour cream (I used the store bought 300ml tetra pack sour cream)

Blueberry topping:

55g / 2 oz caster sugar

4 tbsp water

250g / 9oz fresh blueberries (I used 2 punnets of fresh blueberries)

1 tsp arrowroot

Pre heat the oven to 190 degrees C / 375 degrees F / Gas Mark 5. Brush a 20cm/8inch springform tin with oil. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the biscuits, then spread the mixture over the base of the tin. Place the cream cheese, eggs, 100g/3.5oz of the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla extract in a food processor. Process until smooth. Pour over the biscuit base and smooth the top. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes until set. Remove from the oven and set aside for 20 minutes. Leave the oven switched on.

Mix the cream with the remaining sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl. Spoon over the cheesecake. Return it to the oven for 10 minutes, leave to cool, then cover with clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

To make the topping, place the sugar in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of the water over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat, add the blueberries, cover and cook for a few minutes, or until they being to soften. Remove from the heat. Mix the arrowroot and remaining water in a bowl, add to the fruit and stir until smooth. Return to a low heat. Cook until the juice thickens and turns translucent. Leave to cool.

Remove the cheesecake from the tin 1 hour before serving. Spoon the topping over and chill until ready to serve.

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