March 25, 2015 --- Leave a Comment
With Easter coming up I needed a new dynamite dessert with which to end the meal, and decided on Lemon Cheesecake.
Gluten-free cheesecake presents several baking challenges, not the least of which is inherent in the cheesecake itself. An under baked cheesecake is a double disaster: gooey in the middle and not food-safe because of the uncooked eggs in the batter.
A slightly over baked cheesecake is a lesser problem because the issues can be appearance (a dark brown crust and sides) but don’t affect the texture or flavor of the cake itself. But, of course, a badly over baked cheesecake becomes dry and crumbly.
A second cheesecake problem is flavor; it should be pronounced enough that you know you are eating, for example, lemon, but not so strong it overwhelms the rich cream cheese, which has its own sweet flavor. I found what I think is the perfect lemon balance in this recipe.
The third cheesecake problem, in my opinion, is the top of the cake, often sunk or cracked, and the sides, which appear strangely “naked.” I addressed these issues by using a very lightly sweetened, stabilized, whipped cream to frost both tops and sides. When I say “stabilized” I mean whipped cream that has been infused with a little unflavored gelatin. When whipped it magically holds its form and shape and does not wilt or weep (see recipe instructions). I use Knox Gelatin unflavored gelatin packets, and ½ of one packet is about 1 ¼ teaspoons gelatin, just the right amount for 2 cups of heavy whipping cream. And what else would one use for color, flavor and pizzazz but fresh raspberries?
A gluten-free cheesecake needs a bottom crust and we all think graham cracker crust. Fortunately there is a reliable, tasty brand of gluten-free graham-style crackers that I use all the time: Kinnikinnick S’Moreable Graham Style Crackers. One 8-ounce box makes the perfect size crust. The same brand offers Graham style cracker crumbs as well.
A few tips: Always fold lemon zest into cheesecake or any batter at the end and by hand; otherwise it tends to clump around the beater blades. Always line the bottom and sides of the cheesecake spring form pan with parchment paper cut to fit; this makes removing the baked cake quick and easy.
I make the cake one day in advance, refrigerate it in the pan overnight, and frost and decorate it on the following day. And if you are wondering how to store a cheesecake in the refrigerator (already crowded with edible Easter preparations), refer to the recipe tip. By using parchment paper (the baker’s best friend) and plastic wrap, you can wrap and store a frosted, decorated cheesecake on a shelf space that is 10 inches wide by 4 inches tall.
Yield: 1 (9-inch) cake, 8 to 10 servings
- For the crust:
- 1 (8-ounce) box Kinnikinnick S’moreables Graham Style Crackers, pulverized in the food processor
- 1 ¼ cups Kinnikinnick Graham Style Cracker Crumbs
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon cocoa
- 6 tablespoons melted butter or nondairy alternative
- For the cheesecake:
- 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- For the frosting:
- 1 ¼ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- To make the crust: Combine crumbs and all remaining crust ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Spray a 9-inch spring form pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom and sides with parchment paper cut to fit. Transfer crumb mixture to pan, level the bottom and using a flat-bottomed glass, pat down crumbs gently but firmly, but do not press down hard. Refrigerate pan with crust. Reserve.
- To make the cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese on medium speed until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium between each addition and scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the sugar and beat on medium for 5 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary.
- Add lemon juice and vanilla and beat to mix well. Remove bowl and paddle from mixer. Scrape down paddle. Stir in the lemon zest by hand.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Using a silicone spatula, scrape cheesecake batter into the prepared spring form pan with the chilled crust, and level the top. Set the spring form pan on a baking sheet to catch any butter that often drips out from the crust.
- Bake until the cheesecake is cooked through, between 1 hour and 1 hour and 10 minutes. (One way to judge is if the cake has risen, then begun to sink slightly and pull away from the sides of the pan).
- Remove pan from the oven and set on a rack. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- To make the frosting: The next morning, pour ½ cup of the cream in a microwavable safe 2-cup bowl. Sprinkle in 1 ¼ teaspoons unflavored gelatin. Let soften for 15 minutes. Then whisk to mix and microwave to melt, about 1 minute. Stir and let come to room temperature. Do not refrigerate or chill.
- When gelatin-cream is at room temperature, place remaining 1 ½ cups heavy cream in a chilled 2-quart bowl with powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat on low until cream becomes light and slightly fluffy. With beaters running on medium, slowly drizzle room-temperature gelatin mixture into the cream, beating constantly. Beat on high until cream forms stiff peaks. Scrape down beaters, cover bowl and refrigerate.
- To frost cake: Remove cake from the refrigerator and run a thin spatula around sides reaching down through the crust to the pan bottom. Release the spring and remove the ring. Slide a large thin spatula carefully underneath the parchment paper lining the bottom crust. Transfer parchment and cake onto a platter.
- Frost sides and top of cake with whipped cream. Decorate with fresh raspberries.
- To refrigerate cake: line cake sides with 2 strips of parchment cut ½ inches taller than cake. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
March 16, 2015 --- Leave a Comment
St. Patrick’s Day and Easter are two holidays calling for lamb stew, a dish that presents several challenges. First and foremost is the browning step. Many stews (correctly) call for browning the cubes of meat in fat in a stew pot, but even the deep sides of an eight-quart stewpot do not keep the fat […]
March 11, 2015 --- Leave a Comment
Cauliflower Steak is what the caption on the innovative picture of a caramelized, juicy-looking thick slice of cooked cauliflower said. So, why not? I asked myself. I’m always tempting my husband and kids with innovative vegetables. There are so many reasons why not! First of all, do not say “steak” to a man and serve […]
March 4, 2015 --- 1 Comment
Winter weather still holds the Midwest captive, and our family still craves hearty fare, so pasta fills the bill. There are so many good gluten-free pastas on the market these days that it is possible to pick and choose: brown rice or corn? Artichoke or quinoa? Gluten-free flours in combo? There are dozens of choices […]
February 24, 2015 --- Leave a Comment
Cooking at college has been a challenge for my oldest daughter and will certainly be one for my youngest daughter who leaves for college this fall. I continue to develop recipes that the college daughter can cook and the soon-to-be-college daughter can practice at home. Restuffed potatoes cooked completely in the microwave turned out to […]
February 16, 2015 --- Leave a Comment
With one girl away at college and a second going next year my recipe development recently has been about what my girls can cook for themselves at college with limited equipment and facilities and maybe a shared kitchen and fridge. In an upcoming blog I will write more about the logistics of planning and shopping […]