I decided on a classic New York styled cheesecake, and since cherries were in season back then, I found a recipe for a cherry topping to top the rich concoction.
New York Styled Cheesecake with Cherry Topping
The cheesecake itself wasn't hard to make. The steps to making the crust were pretty much foolproof - since I dumped the cookies and sugar into the processor and gave it a good whir before adding the melted butter. One comment about the crust - it was not crunchy at all, and I love crunchy stuff. The website I got the recipe off recommended prebaking the crust before pouring in the filling to be baked, which I completely skipped since I missed the line until I reread it again after I made the cheesecake.
With cheesecakes, something that I am not familiar with, I was afraid that I might overbake the filling. Thankfully I didn't, cos it came out extremely smooth and velvety creamy. In fact, it was a true blood richer than rich cheesecake. Trust me when I say a small slice goes a long way.
I love cherries, so the cherry topping was an awesome finish to an already decadent dessert. I did notice that there was a slight "cornstarch" taste to the topping (it could be that I am sensitive to the taste of cornstarch in general - sometimes when I make creme custard I taste it too) which I didn't exactly like. So perhaps I recommend reducing the amount and just cooking the cherries down slightly longer to thicken it? But overall, the taste of the cherry topping was yums!
New York Styled Cheesecake with Cherry Topping (adapted from Joy of Baking)
200g (about 13.5) digestive biscuit
115g unsalted butter, melted
Grease the bottoms and sides of a 7-inch springform pan.
Place biscuits and sugar in a food processor and process to a fine crumb.
Pour crumbs into bowl, add melted butter.
Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up the sides of the greased springform pan, stopping about 2.54-cm (1-inch) from the top of the pan.
Place in the freezer to set while preparing the cream cheese filling.
1kg (4 8oz packages) cream cheese, room temperature
3 tbsp (35g) flour
5 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup (80ml) whipping cream
lemon zest from one lemon
1 tsp vanilla paste
Preheat oven to 175C.
In bowl of your electric mixer place the cream cheese, sugar, and flour. Beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes), scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the whipping cream, lemon zest, vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and pour in the filling. Place the cheesecake pan on a larger baking pan and place in the oven.
Bake for 15 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 120C and continue to bake for about another 60 - 90 minutes or until firm and only the center of the cheesecake looks a little wet and wobbly. (The baking time can vary due to the differences in ovens, so make sure to check that the cheesecake is firm with only the center being a little wet and wobbly.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack.
Cherry topping (adapted from Grace at La Mia Vita Dolce)
22 ml water
350g sweet cherries, divided, fresh or frozen, pitted
60ml (1/4 cup) orange juice
28g (1/8 cup) caster sugar
finely grated zest of half an orange
splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp brandy, optional
Dissolve cornstarch in water.
In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2/3 cherries, orange juice, and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved.
Add orange zest and lemon juice; bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Pour the cornstarch mixture through a small sieve into the cherry mixture; stirring well to combine and cooking over medium heat for 2 minutes.
Reduce to low heat, add the brandy and remaining cherries and allow mixture to simmer, 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from heat; transfer cherry topping to a heatproof bowl. Allow cherry topping to cool completely at room temperature; cover and refrigerate to chill.