Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Happy Birthday, Lee Ann (but no cake)!

I posted yesterday WITHOUT a recipe, which simply won’t do. So I have one for you today. It was my officemate and dear friend Lee Ann’s birthday today. Interestingly, she’s not a cake person. In fact, instead of cake, she and her husband had an ice cream sundae bar for their wedding. People after my own Breyer’s-saturated heart—although have you folks tried Edy’s DOUBLE VANILLA? Incredible! Anyway, I decided not to make a cake to celebrate her. (Too bad for her, as I was going to make Chocolate Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese-Butter Pecan Frosting! YUM! I'll get around to posting that one eventually...) Well, it wasn't all that bad for her, because I decided to make a cheesecake instead. And as she loves lemon, I thought I might adapt a regular cheesecake recipe into a Ginger-Lemon version. If I do say so myself, it turned out FABULOUS! It looked lovely, too, and I did try to take a picture to share, but the vultures at my workplace had already hacked into the poor beastie, rendering it quite…un-photogenic! But it was delicious, and despite popular misconceptions about cheesecake, not hard to make. Let me know what you think…

Ginger-Lemon Cheesecake with Honeyed Sour Cream Topping

The Crust:
10 ½ oz. (2 packages or about 60) Swedish ginger thin wafers, crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick of (unsalted) butter, melted
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients for the crust and press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan. (Tip: Use a metal measuring cup to help you press and shape the crust in the pan.) Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until slightly brown. Cool the crust while you prepare the filling.

The Filling:
2 lbs. (4 eight-ounce packages) of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons (unsalted) butter, melted
4 eggs
zest of two lemons
1 tablespoon lemon extract
pinch of salt

Place cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-low speed for a minute or two until completely creamy. Add sugar and butter, and mix again until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, just until blended. Add zest, extracts, and salt, and mix just once more, briefly. (You don’t want to overmix and incorporate too much air into the batter.) Pour filling into the cooled crust, and return to the oven for 40-50 minutes or just until it’s no longer wobbly in the center. Remove cheesecake from the oven and let it cool a little bit and settle back down into the pan while you make the topping.

The Topping:
1 ½ cups sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons honey

Mix topping ingredients by hand, then carefully pour over the cheesecake, covering the entire top. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes. Let cheesecake rest until fairly cool, then cover and refrigerate for several hours, or preferably, overnight. (The flavors get better the next day! This can easily be made a couple of days ahead of time, too.) Run a knife around the edge of the springform pan before removing the ring. Garnish with candied ginger before serving.

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