strawberrycheesecake1border.jpg

I recently tried two desserts that I’d previously made for a second time and I wanted to blog about it, because they were both, if possible, even better the second time around.

The first dessert in quesion is Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake, which was the April 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge. I made the cheesecake but didn’t get to try it because I gifted it to some coworkers that helped me through a particularly busy period at work. After reading about how everyone loved the cheesecake, and loving it myself, I decided to try it again so that I could taste it.

strawberrycheesecake2border.jpg

In one word, this cheesecake is sublime.

It really and truly is the best cheesecake I have ever made. I followed the recipe without making any alterations (recipe below), and I made a very quick strawberry sauce using fresh strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and water.

I am not ashamed to say that I ate 97.6 per cent of the cheesecake on my own. The other 2.4 per cent is unaccounted for.

I suspect Mama Cream Puff.

triple-layerlemoncake2border.jpg

The second dessert that I recently tried again is the Triple-Layer Lemon Cake that I made for my Zia Don’s 50th birthday late last year. When I made it for the birthday party, I had to increase the cake size and make other variations to the recipe so that it would feed a much larger group of people. This time around I made the cake as per the recipe and it was just delicious. The recipe is from Issue #63 of Fine Cooking, unfortunately, it’s no longer available free on the Fine Cooking site. However, you can sign up for a free trial and print a copy of the recipe.

triple-layerlemoncake1border.jpg

I sometimes find that recipes don’t stand up to second and third attempts. In this case, these are two recipes that will likely stand up to the test of time.

Ciao!

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake

For the crust:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cheesecake:

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil “casserole” shaped pans from the grocery store. They’re 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!