Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cheesecake and Sango... I Dream of Paris

Do you have a favorite dessert? How about a FABULOUS cheesecake recipe?

Well this is something you won't find too too often on my site. A recipe for dessert! Oh I like to eat dessert and sweets (trust me!) but I do tend to favor the savory. Especially when cooking or creating it myself. So often baking and dessert requires precise measurements and following the directions to the "T". Unfortunately this is NOT my style. I wish it were. I have a horrible time just sticking to what's called for. Instead I have to add, adjust and alter things to suit my taste, mood or just these nutty creative impulses. It may or may not make the recipe better but I sure think it adds to the fun!

So here it is: Last weekend was my grandmother's 88th birthday. We celebrated at my parent's house. I have a large family and so it is the custom for everyone to bring a dish to the party. I volunteered for the cheesecake. It happens to be one of my favorites to make and to eat. Other favorites are crème brûlée, chocolate soufflé or almost flourless chocolate cake. But more often than not I just like a really good piece of chocolate while I finish the last of my wine – divine!

But back to the cheesecake. I used a recipe that Tyler Florence deems "The Ultimate Cheesecake." Tyler's recipe has a blueberry topping but I also made my grandmother's "famous" (for our family anyway) raspberry topping. Click on the link above to get the cheesecake recipe from the Food Network site.

Now as I mentioned. I have issues trying to just stick to the recipe. I CAN if I have to but for dessert, cheesecake has a teeny bit of wiggle room. I had forgotten my grocery list when I hit the store so I had more than enough cream cheese. Tyler's recipe called for two 8 oz. packages. I used three. And I had some vanilla beans here so I added the seeds as well. This is about the only place I changed the cheesecake though. Oh I did add a little bit of sour cream on the top after it had cooked and cooled. Many of my family members like it and it makes for a lovely finishing touch. This recipe was tasty and turned out nicely but I do prefer a more dense cheesecake. Florence's was a bit "wet" or something and rather tart too. Next time I will choose a recipe with more cream cheese and a little less sour cream and lemon within the body of the cake itself. If you know a great recipe, please share! I would love to hear from you!

Now for my grandmothers topping! Feel free to modify as needed. The stores used to carry frozen raspberries in a little tin like box. I remember using this so often with my grandmother. These raspberries seemed to be in a syrup or something. Now I only seem to find the frozen raspberries in a bag and they don't have much syrup or extra liquid. I used the whole bag and put them in a colander until they were mostly thawed. Put a bowl or dish under the colander to catch the juice that will drain out. Combine this juice with about 1/4 cup of current* jelly and 1 tbls. of cornstarch in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Well I didn't get much juice from the raspberries so I added a little lemon juice. I think some actual raspberry juice would be good. Cook the juice and jelly mixture until thickened and remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining whole raspberries and reserve sauce for your cheesecake. I prefer to scoop the sauce onto each person's cake when I serve it. Thus not letting the cheesecake get too soft or soggy.

Don't forget your helpers! Whether you have those that cook with you, clean up or just taste test, it is ALWAYS fun to have company in the kitchen.

*So another problem. Current jelly has been getting harder and harder to find too. I don't know why. It upsets my grandmother as it is her favorite jelly for everything from dessert to toast. Well I didn't see it at the market and with two little kids, I wasn't about to tour town in search of jelly. I did notice the store had pomegranate jelly now though! Well as pomegranates are so popular in everything from health food to martinis right now, I chose that. I seemed to taste pretty close to the sauce when made with the current jelly.

So cheesecake and coffee with my Café Paris dishes by Sango. My friend Terri gave me these one Christmas... or was is a birthday? It was so long ago, I forget. Hey Terri... do you remember??? But the nature of the art reminded her of me and our trips to Paris. Oh how I love Paris. How much fun we had loosing ourselves in all the different streets. Finding little cheese stands, boulangeries and cafés and just reading, writing, talking, sitting.... I use this coffee cup almost every day. I love to just FEEL like I am there ... in Paris again.... I need to paint more AND visit Paris or Europe more. I miss it terribly. Any stories of Paris are welcome!


Lulu said...

Oooh, cheesecake! For my birthday one year I went to a Sushi restaurant and my birthday cake was deep-fried cheescake!

Nicole said...

Hi Lulu. Thanks for stopping by. Deep-fried cheesecake! Wow! Now THAT is decadent! How was it?

Oil Wells said...

I remember Paris, and I mostly remember the crepe stands late at night with a little nutella inside. So much fun.

Nicole said...

Yeah Terri! So glad you left a comment! Don't you miss Paris?

Single Girl and The City said...

Hi Nicole,
Just found your blog and am new to the whole blogging thing. I recently tried a banana/coconut cheesecake. It was divine! and reading about Paris makes me want to go there again. Like your friend, Terri, I also remember the yummy crepes from the stands..I liked mine with a little jam and powdered sugar though:)

Nicole said...

Hi "Single Girl"! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am actually very new to blogging myself. I have only been doing it for just over a month now.

Paris.... it is like a lost love for me. I cannot think of it or see photos without a tiny ping in my heart. I MUST go back soon!

Emerald Dragonfly said...

Finally an accasion to try your cheese cake!! i am about to go grocery shopping, may need help with baking and freezing later on.
...hey, I absolutely love the art and writing of your blog's title!

have a good day,

Nicole said...

Hi Lara! Glad you came and left a comment. What is your reason for Cheesecake? Any news??

Glad you like the title. I go back and forth on it. I am not sure. Maybe it should be more simple....???