Who could ever forget that pesky tune? …Is life in plastic truly fantastic?
Sometimes I stop and ponder why when we cook and bake we demand perfection. How often do you do that? I baked a cheesecake last week. Not any cheesecake… a superbly cracked all the way down cheesecake!
It wasn’t a case of ‘bad beginner’s luck’. I have baked uncracked cheesecakes before – but I do take the blame for all the cracking. It was in and out of the oven before you could say “what’s that amazing smell?” And without proper cooling down time, cracks were aplenty.
It made me reconsider whether I should take the cheesecake to a dinner I was invited to… and whether I should be posting it here at all. I figured we’ll never truly appreciate perfection without embracing imperfection. And I mean smashingly tasty imperfections.
Although I see the cracks as an added personality to the cheesecake, if you should make this and desire no cracks, let it set with the oven door ajar, then cool out on a bench to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 4 hours to enhance the flavours.
175g plain biscuits
130g butter, melted
1/4 cup desiccated coconut (optional)
500g cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
3 XL eggs, separated (or 4 smaller, separated)
1/2 cup thickened cream
rind of 1 lemon, and its juice OR
1/2 batch of this lemon curd recipe
Coconut – optional, but feel free to add another 1/4 cup into the filling for added flavour
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (160 fan forced) and spray 20cm spring form pan.
Place the biscuits in a food processor and process until finely crushed. Add the butter and process until well combined. Press the biscuit mixture over the inside of the greased pan to evenly cover the base and come 2/3 of the way up the sides. Sprinkle 1/4 cup coconut on base and place in the fridge while making the filling.
To make the filling, use electric beaters to beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until the mixture is light and creamy. Add the lemon rind & lemon juice (if using), egg yolks and cream. Beat until well combined and the mixture is light and fluffy.
Use clean beaters to whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Add to the cream cheese mixture and fold in the same direction (eg. clockwise) until combined. Do not overmix, do not mix in various directions to keep air in the whites.
If using lemon curd, pour the mixture into prepared pan and dollop the curd and use a skewer to swirl through the cheesecake filling.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until golden and just set in the centre. Turn oven off and keep door slightly open to allow it to set further, about 15mins. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours – overnight to firm. Remove from the fridge 10 minutes before serving, and dig in!