The Great Cheesecake Mystery

The Great Cheesecake Mystery

We picked a good day to prune our aged cherry tree. Lots of healthy exercise and well worth the work. After we finished the tree we made the cheesecake.

We did a much better job pruning the cherry tree than we did with the cheesecake!

The Cheesecake recipe that I’ve been making for fifty years was the best, I thought.

Then my almost 24-year-old grandson, Matt, began baking. One Thanksgiving, maybe three years ago, when it was dessert time, he pulled his work of art from the refrigerator and set it on the counter in all its glory, as a centerpiece, like a jewel in the crown, surrounded by dirt cake, thumbprint cookies, tiramisu, and Aunt Madeleine’s handmade chocolates.

 

Working up an appetite before we dig into the cheesecake.

I’ve been baking almost my whole life. I’ve made my share of delicious cheesecakes. Yeah right, my cheesecake is nothing compared to Matt’s. The best I ever tasted. The best. I asked him for the recipe, but alas, he couldn’t tell me, he had made a promise. He said the person who gave him the recipe said that it was an old family secret recipe. A SECRET? Whoever heard of such a thing? And this mysterious person made my Matt promise that he would never reveal the magic ingredients. Imagine that!

“But I’m your Grammy,” I said to Matt. “Surely it would be acceptable to give me the recipe.”

“Nope,” Matt replied. “I’m sorry, Grammy but a promise is a promise.”

A couple of years went by, and I asked Matt again if he would share?

“The person that gave me the recipe has passed away,” he replied. “But nope Grammy, a promise is a promise.”

Well, I resigned myself to my fate. I would never get that recipe. But you know what? Matt impressed me with his solemn vow to the person who gave it to him.

Springform into action!

The other day I FaceTimed with son Rick and Matt was home. I was curious, so I asked Matt what kind of pan he uses to bake his cheesecake.

“Spring-form pan,” he said.

“Oh good, that will be much easier for me than my trusty pie plate.”

I told Matt that I had just made a cheesecake—it was good but the sour cream topping was a little too soft when we ate it five hours later. I refrigerated overnight and it firmed up more to perfect.

I decided to bake another one this week and use my regular two packages of cream cheese but this time I’ll add a cup of sour cream to the mix rather than use it as a topping.”

“That’s what I do,” Matt said.

The ingredients

Aha! He didn’t tell me his recipe, but his agreement got me all excited,

So I tried to guess at his recipe. I tried to solve the cheesecake mystery but unfortunately, I didn’t crack the case! The cheesecake that I took out of the oven collapsed on me. I added the sour cream to the batter instead of smearing it on top. And so it fell in the center and it was also browned the top like a grilled steak. It tasted pretty good but it wasn’t MY usual cheesecake. This is what happens when you try to be a cheesecake sleuth!

My original, trusty, fifty-year recipe is here below for your perusal. Gail’s Cheesecake. I’m not so secretive with my recipes.

GAIL’S CHEESECAKE:

Crust for Cream Cheese Cake

This was my attempt at trying to guess at Matt’s cheesecake and as you can see it didn’t turn out right. I had to cover the top with some fresh sour cream. But it’s tasty.

Poor cheesecake!

Use 9” pie pan

12 full Graham crackers

3/4 stick of butter, melted

Roll out crackers or use a blender, brush some butter on the pan first

then put the crumbs in the pie plate and add melted butter.

Blend with fork and spread. Then take a smaller pie plate to even out shell

If using for other pies: bake 10 min at 400 degrees

There’s nothing like enjoying a bite of cheesecake with your sweetheart.

Gail’s Cheese Cake

1lb cream cheese (2 packs eight oz each)

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg, 1 egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

Mix 15 minutes on 1 speed. Add to pie shell & bake 375, for 20 min

Topping:

½ pint (or 1 cup) sour cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Mix 10 min on 1 speed, add to the hot pie. spread on top. Turn up the oven to 400 degrees, Put the pie in the oven for 5 minutes. Let pie cool. Then refrigerate. Do not cut for three hours. Best if the pie is placed in the refrigerator overnight.

No springform pan, all the butter leaked out leaving the graham cracker crust too hard. I still have my good old 8″ pie pan.

Gail Ingis is an artist, interior designer, and published author. Her historical romances Indigo Sky and The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin are both available on Amazon.

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WHAT’S BETTER THAN 1ST PLACE?

WHAT’S BETTER THAN 1ST PLACE?

Welcome to Junior’s!

Hail a taxicab anywhere in New York City and tell the driver, “Take me to the best cheesecake in New York.” Odds are you will end up at the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues in Brooklyn, at Juniors. Junior’s landmark restaurant is known as the home of New York’s best cheesecake. For decades, Brooklynites (and other New Yorkers) have come to eat, laugh, and kibbitz (argue) over cheesecake. In the 1950’s, an entire generation came of age at Junior’s, that’s me. Their cheesecake was as important as the Brooklyn Dodgers…the Fox Theater…Coney Island…Brighton Beach. Today loyal customers still come –from all over and all walks of life. Famous mayors. Presidents. Hall of Fame athletes. Authors, singers, like Frankie (the crooner) and Eddie Cantor (Mammy), movie stars. In fact, it’s as true today as it was 60 years ago when they started, “You haven’t really lived until you’ve had cheesecake at Junior’s.”
Christmas Swirl

Inside Junior’s at Foxwoods

 

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

All dressed up for the holidays, The Original New York cheesecake swirled with real strawberry puree, topped with red and green chips and wrapped with yellow chiffon cake on the sides with a beautiful Christmas tree pattern. Junior’s and cheesecake are synonymous. You say cheesecake, and you knew you would be dining at Junior’s. You say Junior’s and you knew your would be eating cheesecake.

Here come the cheesecake

Here come the cheesecake

Junior’s is a restaurant chain with the original location at 386 Flatbush Avenue Extension at the corner of DeKalb Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn, New York City. Other locations include Times Square area and the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel in the Foxwoods Resort in Ledyard, Connecticut. The restaurant was founded by Harry Rosen in 1950. According to the restaurant, it was named Junior’s after Rosen’s two sons, Walter and Marvin.

Coney Island mural

Coney Island mural inside Junior’s

According to GO Brooklyn, “At that corner of Flatbush and DeKalb avenues in Downtown Brooklyn, there has been a diner run by the Rosen family since 1929. In 1950, the name was changed to Junior’s, and it has been serving its famous cheesecake and other goodies ever since.”

Bakery

Bakery

Rosen worked with master baker Eigel Peterson to create the cheesecake known today as “The World’s Most Fabulous Cheesecake”, based on a recipe that was in the Rosen family for three generations. In addition to cheesecake, Junior’s features deli sandwiches (particularly corned beef and pastrami), ten ounce steakburgers, cheese blintzes, and unique onion rings. Fans of the restaurant are not limited to Brooklynites. A Kuwaiti prince was known to have taken several of Junior’s cheesecakes back with him.

So what’s better than 1st place? Cheesecake at Junior’s, that’s what’s better than my dance competition placement. Well, almost. I had no idea there was a Junior’s restaurant at Foxwoods. Tom, my hubby said, “We’re going to have breakfast at Junior’s. I had no idea that was the famous Junior’s, and neither did my mid-western husband. We rounded the bend from the smoky casino, and low and behold, right in front of me was my most favorite New York restaurant that I ate at for years and years and years.

The waiter gave us menus. I looked it over and with sad eyes, I looked up and asked the waiter, “Where’s the potato pancakes?” He said, “On our lunch menu.” I named lots of other dishes that I remembered. He said, “You know Junior’s. Impressive!!!” I kid you not, I remember it well, just like the song sung by Maurice Chevalier. They have Junior’s in Florida and of course I ate there too. So I asked him if I could have a potato pancake with my breakfast, with sour cream. A big breakfast later, I asked, “Will you wrap up cheesecake to take away, and how about one of your New York bagels with cream cheese and tomato?”

logo

logo

bagels bagel-w-stripes

Happy Thanksgiving! Remember to have cheesecake.

 

 

 

 

 

Now that the holidays are here, maybe you will have time to enjoy a good book. Here’s a little bit about my novel:

If you like romance, and you like rip-roaring adventure, Indigo Sky is for you! Shopping at Tiffany’s, getting caught up in the New York Draft Riot, the Civil War, and the wilds of the Great Plains. Enjoy the holiday with Gail Ingis’s Indigo Sky. Sign up for my weekly blog by December 17th, and three of you will win a copy of my ebook.

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CHEESECAKE STRUCTURE

CHEESECAKE STRUCTURE

Cheesecake Factory creamy-rich frosty glass box

Cheesecake Factory changing skylines: creamy-rich frosty glass box

The perfect cheesecake is an art form built upon a structure of physics, architecture and technology. Granted, your grace with a spatula and deft sense of flavorings can mean the difference between a run-of-the-mill cheesecake and an ethereally light monument to decadence. But first you need to master the basic skills — proper ratios of ingredients, the role of a fine crust, the importance of the right pan, correct timing in the oven, proper cooling and all the rest.

You have last week’s recipe . . . now here’s ‘how to’ techniques from a variety of sources:

* Use the best ingredients: Cheesecake is, by nature, a rich and lavish dessert. It also is fairly time-consuming and on the expensive side. Resist the urge to cut corners: Use only ingredients you know and trust, experiment with other brands only when time permits and you can risk less-than-stellar desserts.

* Choose the right equipment. Here are some of the more important items:

Springform pans provide the best mold for cheesecake. The tender, sticky cake is less apt to remain adhered to the edges of this pan.

Paddle-type beaters are better for making cheesecakes because they tend to incorporate less air into the batter than the “balloon whisk” variety. (If you have conventional beaters, don’t overbeat; see tip below.)

A jellyroll pan with a lip placed underneath the springform in the oven will help minimize the cleanup from an occasional leak, says Susan G. Purdy, in her book, A Piece of Cake (Atheneum,1989).

A long, thin spatula (from a cake-baking store or kitchenware shop) is useful both for loosening the cake from the edges and removing the chilled cake from the base.

* Work with proper temperatures: Cream cheese should be at room temperature for more complete blending and silken results. Remove eggs from the refrigerator just long enough in advance to remove the chill. Let mixtures cool as directed (usually to room temperature if no other specific temperature is noted.)

Invest in an oven thermometer to double-check your range.

You can soften cream cheese in your microwave, according to Kraft/General Foods. Place a single unwrapped (8-ounce) package in a microwave-safe container. Then microwave on high about 15 seconds. You may need to give the container a quarter-turn, then microwave for another few seconds. Add 15 seconds for each additional package. (Timing will vary, depending upon the power of your machine.)

* Prepare the pan: You’ll get nicer slices of finished (baked and chilled) cheesecake from the pan — and leave less of the crust on the springform base — if you follow this advice from Kraft/General Foods:

Turn the bottom section of the pan (the base) rim-side-down before inserting it into the springform pan (the side mold). Secure the latch, making certain the base is securely inserted. Grease and flour the pan (check the recipe to see if this is required).

Did this advice mean anything to you, or did you already know the delicacy of cheesecake preparation?

Next week we talk about cheesecake and changing skylines!

 

 

 

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