Sunday, July 29, 2012

New York Cheesecake

I hadn't baked a New York cheesecake in years, but when my son asked for one for his 8th birthday, how could I refuse?  This cake was a mix of 2 recipes.  The crust is just a basic graham cracker crust, very simple and the cake part I got from a Cheesecake Factory copycat recipe, very delicious.

Here's the recipe:

23 graham crackers, crushed (my kids loved using the rolling pin for this-just put the crackers in a ziplock bag and smash away)
1/4 cup of margarine or butter, melted
Mix the two ingredients together in a bowl.  Once well mixed, use the mixture to cover the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.  Bake at 325* for 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

The Cake:
  • 1 1/2 lbs cream cheese
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  1. Beat cream cheese together (I did all the mixing in my Kitchen Aid)
  2. Add sugar and beat in slowly.
  3. Next add the eggs in one at a time. Make sure each is fully beaten in before adding another one.
  4. Next add flour, vanilla, and lemon juice and mix well.
  5. Add sour cream and beat in.
  6. Pour the mixture into the crust
  7. Place in the oven on the top rack for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  8. Turn off oven, open the door ( just a crack) and leave cheesecake there for one hour.
  9. Place the cheesecake in the fridge for about 8 hours ( the more you wait the flavors will become better).
  10. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cooking With Kids - Homemade Marshmallows

One of my summer goals is to cook more with my kids.  I had them look through a couple of my kid-friendly recipe books and pick the recipes they really wanted to try.  I'm not surprised that their first pick came from the River Cottage Family Cookbook.
This is one fantastic cookbook.  It is written in a way that makes cooking accessible for kids.  Every ingredient and cooking tool you need for each recipe is listed at the top and the instructions are easy to follow.  Although it is kid-friendly, it is not "kiddish".  Meaning that the food inside is something that would appeal to kids and adults alike.  The idea is that you would work together as a family to get to know how to work with food from scratch.  I just love it and everything I've tried from it has been delicious.
I'll give you my simplified directions here - their directions are much more descriptive than mine.

1 tbsp confectioners sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
canola oil for oiling the pan and knife
1 packet gelatin powder
2-3 drops red food coloring (optional)
2 egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water

-sift sugar and cornstarch together into a small bowl.  Rub an 8 inch square pan with a little of the oil, then sprindle some of the sugar mix on top to dust the pan - set both the bowl and pan aside
-bring a kettle of water to almost a boil.  Mix 1/2 cup of water with the gelatin powder and stir until gelatin is disolved.  Add a couple of drops red food coloring to the mix if desired.
-Put egg whites into a stand mixer near the stove
-Put the granulated sugar and water into a medium saucepan.  Put it over low heat and mix until all the sugar granules are dissolved.  Clip a warmed candy thermometer to the pan and raise the heat to boil the sugar and water together.  While this mixture is heating, start mixing the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
-Boil the sugar until it reaches 252* (hardball stage) and immediately turn off the stove
-Pour the gelatin into the pan of syrup and mix with a wooden spoon.
-Turn the mixer back on low and very carefully add the syrup to the egg whites.
-Mix everything together (you can raise the speed a bit here) and keep mixing until everything is thick and bulky but still pourable (if you lift up the beaters a ribbon of marshmallow should sit on the surface for a few seconds before sinking back down).
-Pour the marshmallow into a prepared pan and let set in a cooled place for an hour or two.
-Dust the cutting board with the rest of the cornstarch mixture.  Coat a putter knife with a little oil.  Ease the marshmallow onto the board.  Sift extra cornstarch/sugar mix on if neccessary. Cut the marshmallows into squares (you probably need to oil the knife after each cut)

My kids were very impressed with this recipe and everyone had a chance to pitch in.  Great family project :)