02 May 2011

Cheesecake Wars: Martha vs Oprah

It's Oprah's fault I messed up my cheesecake. There, I said it.

I'm not a big fan of Oprah. I think she's a terrible interviewer and awfully self-absorbed (anyone else notice that even when she's sympathizing with people it's still all about her and what she's been through?) But I do like to have the TV on in the kitchen when I'm working in there. Unfortunately, with just an analog antenna we get limited channels on that TV. And at 4:00 pm it's a choice between soap operas, really bad re-runs, or Oprah. Since she occasionally does cover interesting topics (I admit--I was glued to the show when she reunited the cast of The Sound of Music) I choose to watch the lesser of all evils.

So there I was, the day of the Royal Wedding, making a cheesecake and semi-watching Oprah's Royal Wedding special. Maybe I shouldn't blame Oprah. Really, it was Kate Middleton's dress that grabbed my attention. But having managed to avoid all RW coverage until then, you can't blame a girl for being curious. (By the way, what is it with Americans and the Royal Family? You guys realize you fought tooth and nail to kick them out of your country, right? Canadians didn't go half as crazy over the wedding and that's our monarchy!) Anyway, with my focus on Oprah and all the hoopla in England I only used the half the amount of cream cheese I was supposed to. I didn't even realize it until the cake was baked and I happened to spot the other two packages of cheese in the fridge. I guess Martha's recipes are no match for the power of Oprah.

I'm going to have to start leaving the TV off when I'm baking...

On to the recipe!

The ingredients...most of them, anyway:


The springform pan, wrapped to prevent leakage. Someone needs to invent a better cheesecake pan:

Classic combination: graham crumbs, butter, and sugar...

...mix together...
...and press onto bottom of the pan. Voila: graham cracker crust!

Raspberry puree. Also good to have on hand for your next vampire-themed party:

Straining out the seeds. Not difficult but time-consuming:

The fatal flaw: 1 lb of cream cheese instead of 2.

Mixed until light and fluffy:

The top dotted with raspberry puree. It did seems like a lot of puree, but it still didn't occur to me that there might not be enough filling:

Swirly and pretty:

Baked. Um, what happened to the swirls?:

A tasty mistake:

Raspberry-Swirl Cheesecake

[My notes/changes in brackets]
  • 1 cup finely ground graham crackers [I used store-bought crumbs]
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 ounces raspberries [I used the recipe from the magazine and it lists 1 1/2 cups of raspberries, which would be closer to 12 oz--I guess there was another reason mine ended up so red]
  • 32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature [My recipe lists it as 2 lbs of cream cheese]
  • Pinch of salt [1/8 tsp]
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Boiling water, for roasting pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap exterior of a 9-inch springform pan (including base) in a double layer of foil; set aside.

Stir together cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Process raspberries in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pass puree through a fine sieve into a small bowl; discard solids. Whisk in 2 tablespoons sugar, and set aside.

Put cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in a slow, steady stream. Add salt and vanilla; mix until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing each until just combined (do not overmix). Pour cream cheese filling over crust.

Drop raspberry sauce by the teaspoon on top. With a wooden skewer or toothpick, swirl sauce into filling.

Set cake pan inside a large, shallow roasting pan. Transfer to oven. Carefully ladle boiling water into roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of cake pan. Bake until cake is set but still slightly wobbly in center, 60 to 65 minutes.

Transfer cake pan to rack; let cake cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, 6 hours or overnight*. Before unmolding, run a knife around edge of cake.

[*For the instructions highlighted in red I used Alton Brown's cheesecake method instead. Bake for one hour without opening oven door. Turn off oven. Open door for 1 minute before closing again. Leave cheesecake in oven for another hour (don't open door during this time). Remove from oven. Let rest on counter one hour. Then refrigerate 3 hours-overnight.]

Serves 6 to 8

Original recipe here.

My Verdict

Well, obviously I wish I'd used more cream cheese and less raspberry puree. As it was the cake is super creamy, not too cheesy (my cream cheese- and cheesecake-hating SO almost likes it!), and very sweet. The crust also ended up somewhat soggy due to the overly liquid filling. It tastes good but not quite right for a cheesecake. If the urge to make another cheesecake overcomes me I'd definitely make this one again (only I'd pay better attention!) On the other hand, if a creamy, less-cheesy cheesecake appeals to you then by all means, try making it with half as much cream cheese. What's the point of baking if you can't experiment a little?

Want to see what else I've made for my 2011 baking project?

January: Double-Chocolate Brownies
February: Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Sauce
March: Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies

Photos by Domicile

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