Friday, April 9, 2010

Another Baby's Birthday

Yesterday was my third child's (A.J.'s) 11th birthday. I knew he was growing up when he requested Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake for his birthday dessert; instead of the usual overly decorated birthday cake (Sniff! Sniff!). Cheesecake has been raised up on a pedestal at our house. It has become a much coveted dessert. The only time I make it is when I have been asked to bring dessert for a family of church activity, or I am taking a special birthday treat to a friend. Needless to say, my family rarely gets to imbibe (so to speak!). I tweaked a recipe I found in my Better Homes and Garden Cookbook. I am not a big New York Style Cheesecake fan (to dry and heavy for my tastes), but this recipe is light, fluffy, and moist. It is also very versatile! So today, I am going to share my secret family cheesecake recipe (Don't tell my hubby. He thinks I should keep it a secret!).

Heavenly Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir in melted butter until well combined. Press unto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a greased Springform pan. Wrap two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil around the bottom and up the sides of the Springform pan. Make sure the foil is wrapped tightly around the pan to make a waterproof seal, and set aside.

3 (8oz) packages cream cheese; softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 vanilla
1/4 milk (or half and half)
3 eggs (slightly beaten)

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar and flour. Mix in vanilla and milk. Mix in eggs and beat until smooth. Pour into graham cracker crust. Place the Springform pan in a roasting pan (or cake pan several inches larger than the cheesecake pan). Pour enough water in the roasting pan to reach halfway up the Springform pan. Place in the center rack of the oven and bake at 375 for 45 to 55 minutes. The cheesecake is done when a 2 1/2 inch section around the outside edge of the cheesecake appear set when gently shaken. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes loosen the crust from the sides of the pan with a sharp knife. Let cool for 30 minutes more, then release the side of the Springform pan and remove from cheesecake. Let cool completely and then refrigerate.

1. To make Strawberry (Raspberry) swirl cheesecake drop six heaping tablespoons of freezer jam on the top of the batter and swirl into it with a butter knife (bake an extra 5 - 7 minutes).
2.To make Chocolate swirl cheesecake stir 1/2 cup melted semi sweet chocolate chips into half of the cheesecake batter. Pour the plain batter into graham cracker crust (use chocolate graham crackers instead of honey graham crackers). Pour chocolate batter over plain batter and swirl fillings together with a butter knife.
3. Squirt strawberry, caramel, or chocolate ice cream toppings over individual slices of cheesecake. Top with a few raspberries, or sliced strawberries.

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