My family rang in the New Year last night with a fabulous meal and a most delicious dessert. Australian grass-fed beef tenderloin cooked to perfection on the grill, creamy au gratin potatoes, tangy Greek salad and soft, buttery poppy seed rolls. It was all very delicious and every single bite of beef was eaten -- not an easy feat with 5.5 pounds of beef (there were 12 of us for dinner).
To top off all that was a cheesecake that was as beautiful to behold as it was delicious to eat. My sister-in-law said she thought it was the best cheesecake she had ever eaten. That's quite a compliment. It was pretty darned good, and just about the simplest cheesecake to make. It's often the simplest recipes that are the most pleasing. Appropriately, the recipe came from Real Simple magazine. I made it exactly as directed, except I opted to serve the cherry preserves on the side for those in my crowd who prefer unadulterated cheesecake. As for me, give me the cherries. I used my very favorite cherry preserves and they didn't disappoint.
I think the key to this very creamy cheesecake is not over baking -- stick to 45 minutes max. It should be set, but not cracked. Too often folks over bake their cheesecakes and that's what leads to cracking.
Gingersnap Cheesecake with Cherries
3 cups ground gingersnap cookies (this was a one-pound bag for me)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
three 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar (divided)
2 large eggs
2 cups sour cream (divided)
2 t. vanilla extract (divided)
1/2 cup cherry preserves
Heat oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, combine the ground gingersnaps and butter. Using a straight-sided dry measuring cup, press the mixture into the bottom and 2 inches up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and 1 cup of the sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in ½ cup of the sour cream and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla.
Pour the mixture into the crust and bake until just set, 40 to 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 ½ cups of sour cream, ¼ cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Spread over the hot cheesecake and bake until set, 3 to 5 minutes more. Let cool in the pan, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake before unmolding.
Spread the preserves over the cheesecake before serving (or serve on the side).
Source: Real Simple Magazine