As the Thanksgiving pre-prep rolls on, I was feeling a bit odd about not having a cheesecake in our dessert menu. It’s been on the menu almost every year since I started hosting in the 1980’s, with all-time favorite being Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust and Bourbon Sour Cream topping.
There were some years when my dear friend Deb would bring an enormous cheesecake from J&S Watkins in Clifton Park, NY, so I’d make a fruit-based tart or pie instead, always gravitating to the more complex and/or labor-intensive choices.
This year Deb is bringing their Chocolate Decadence Torte and I have planned an Apple, Pear & Cranberry Crisp culled from Ina Garten’s website. But this morning the absence of cheesecake hit me with a pang of guilt, and so I set out to make a smallish one – in a 7″ springform which, thanks to high school geometry, I knew would require just half the ingredients of a 9 or 10″ cake, and a slightly shorter baking time.
Using an Epicurious recipe for starters, we now have this addition to the menu for Thursday. It just finished cooling and is resting in the fridge until the big day:
7″ LEMON GINGER CHEESECAKE
Crust – 1 cup finely ground Trader Joe’s Triple Gingersnaps combined with 2 T sugar, 1/4 t ground ginger, and 2 T melted butter
Filling – 2 8-ounce pkgs Philadelphia cream cheese at room temperature; 1/2 C + 2 T sugar; 2 large or extra large eggs at room temperature; 1/2 C Daisy Lite sour cream; 1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger (as I’ve mentioned before, Reed’s is the best…from Australia); 1 T grated gingerroot; 1 T fresh lemon juice; grated peel of one lemon
Preheat oven to 325. (Used my Breville countertop oven for this)
Butter a 7″ round 3″ high springform pan and double wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Press the crust crumb mixture onto the bottom and 1/2″ up the sides. Bake for about 10 minutes and allow to cool while you make the filling, keeping the oven at 325.
In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese to fluffiness, then add the sugar and beat until fluffy again. Add eggs 1 at a time and beat thoroughly. Then beat in all remaining ingredients and pour the filling into the pan. Place the wrapped cheesecake into a roasting pan at least 1-1/2″ high and pour very hot water around it to about 1″ in depth. Bake cheesecake in center of oven 50-55 minutes, until filling is set and top is golden brown. Turn off oven and leave the cheesecake inside, keeping the door propped partly open with a wooden spoon. This will keep it from cracking as it cools down slowly.
After about 30 minutes, remove from oven, remove foil, and allow to cool completely on a rack. It helps to gently run a butter knife around the edge to further prevent cracking as it finishes cooling. When completely cool, cover pan with foil or plastic wrap and chill overnight or up to 4 days before serving.
Remove from fridge about an hour before serving – transfer cheesecake to a cake platter and garnish with lemon curls or very thin lemon slices.
Haven’t tasted this yet, but I did lick the spatula and the filling was outstanding, so I’m optimistic about this one.