Cheesecake Recipe from King Arthur

z3rihusRpSnpD2mnBIthGTHDV6i4Wex565rojIGlmjegFmsjmCZSwaJjcYXerb2HcQQywPeJR_0KYe5qCXBqQyoBsOTojfCk0drquPbYLbpIg0uCX0FyTVRzUIcQigVAwIM90e826K1H_H1ZuxbN0qxDM9a8Qxb2m1wed0oXONHiOlHgu7FFTaSPDlAs obsessions go, cheesecake is not one of mine. But, recently, I had a cheesecake that I actually liked. Here is the recipe from King Arthur’s Flour. I encourage you to read it out loud so you can enjoy saying “zwieback” — just because. Also, for the optional topping, I would simply cook some fresh berries with a bit of sugar. Keep it simple. Or serve fresh berries and not bother with making a sauce.

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs OR zwieback crumbs
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (1/3 cup) melted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 2 cups (2 large packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping (optional)

  • 12 ounce bag frozen raspberries, a scant 3 cups
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons sugar, to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Pie Filling Enhancer; use 1 tablespoon for a looser sauce, 2 tablespoons for thicker
  • pinch of ground cinnamon, optional

Instructions

  1. Select a pie pan whose inside top dimension is at least 9″, and whose height is at least 1 1/4″. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Make the crust by stirring together all of the crust ingredients, mixing until thoroughly combined.
  3. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan, making a thicker layer on the bottom than on the sides.
  4. Make the filling by mixing together the room-temperature cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the eggs and vanilla, again mixing until smooth. To avoid beating too much air into the batter, use a mixer set at low-medium speed. To avoid lumps, make sure the cream cheese is softened, and/or at room temperature.
  5. Set the pie pan onto a baking sheet, if desired; this makes it easier to transport in and out of the oven, and also protects the bottom of the crust from any potential scorching. Pour the filling into the crust.
  6. Place the cheesecake in the oven. Bake it for 20 minutes, then add a crust shield; or shield the crust with strips of aluminum foil. Bake for an additional 10 minutes (for a total of about 30 minutes). An instant-read thermometer inserted into the crust 1″ from the edge should read between 165°F and 170°F; the filling won’t look entirely set in the center.
  7. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, and set it on a rack to cool while you make the topping. Once the cake is cool, refrigerate it, covered, until you’re ready to serve it.
  8. To make the topping, place the frozen raspberries in a bowl to thaw. You can hasten the process with a quick trip through the microwave, but don’t let the berries cook.
  9. Add 1 tablespoon Pie Filling Enhancer, and stir until well combined. Is the topping as thick as you like? If not, stir in another tablespoon Pie Filling Enhancer.
  10. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, to taste. Stir in a pinch of ground cinnamon, if desired.
  11. Spoon the topping over the cheesecake, and cut slices to serve. Alternatively, cut slices, and top each with a dollop of topping.

The Great Bagel Hunt in Bogota

A bagel with lox from Fratelli's.
A bagel with lox from Fratelli’s.

What I consider a real bagel is actually a “New York style” or a “Montreal-style” bagel. The Montreal style is more freestyle in appearance (according to Wikipedia). The major characteristic of these two types of bagels are that they are round breads with a whole in the center with a stretchy and dense dough. I have been on the hunt for a decent bagel here in Bogota.

Capital Bagels on Calle 95.
Capital Bagels on Calle 95.

I went to the international chain, Capital Bagel. Their bagel was not doughy and it had a weird taste. Then someone told me that the best one was at Fratelli’s. So I went there. It was the best one I’ve found here so far. While it was not doughy, at least the flavor was not bad. But it was not a New York style bagel. So ends my hunt. Clearly, this is not the place or the time for bagels. Instead, I’ll enjoy the fresh orange juice I can find on every street corner.

No Baking At Altitude – No Bake Dessert

Hand blown glass from the glass factory in Bogota.
Hand blown glass from the glass factory in Bogota.

So I used my oven for the first, and last, time. I tried to bake something for a holiday party, a giant meat pie with phyllo pastry. It’s been months since I moved to Bogota, yet I couldn’t find my rolling pin, so I cut the pastry up into squares and placed them on top of the meat filling. My oven is a combination gas and electric oven. I couldn’t figure out which of the knobs I’m supposed to turn as the markings make no sense to me (plus some are worn off). So I turned everything. There was a hiss and then a few minutes later, the blue flames danced along the bottom. I put the pan in the oven. I watched. Eventually, I took it out. None of the pastry had risen. Some of the pastry had turned a dark bark color. At the other end of the pan, the pastry lay like uncooked lasagne sheets. I gave up.

For another holiday party, I made an artsy no-bake dessert. Here’s how I made it:

Marinate some dried cranberries in tequila (or rum) for a few days. Cook them with some sugar. Puree these with softened cream cheese and sour cream. Put in a ziplock bag for ease of transport. In a pan, toast some walnuts. Put aside. Melt some sugar (okay, lots) in a pan. Add a touch of butter to make a caramel. When the sugar is a liquid caramel, add dried cranberries and the walnuts. Put on a silicone sheet (or a greased surface) to cool. Smash the brittle into bits and put into a bag. At the party, assemble by cutting a hole in one corner of the cream cheese bag and pipette (fancy pouring) into hand blown glasses from Colombia (or a glass from anywhere). Add whipped cream if you want, or just put the brittle on top.

From now on, my desserts will all be brittle based.