The Perfect Cheesecake: Four Tips and TricksJune 18, 2014
Cheesecake, although one of the most decadent and visually stunning desserts, can also be a baker’s worst nightmare. The pricey ingredients are as temperamental as they are time consuming, and after hours in the kitchen working on a cheesecake, the last thing anyone wants to do is bake it all over again if the first one flops.
There are a few major reasons why cheesecakes don’t come out, but those reasons are not hard to fix. Using Almond Ricotta Cheesecake as an example, here are four tips and tricks to baking the perfect cheesecake every time:
Fresh ingredients are always best, for they offer the maximum flavor. Look for fresh Sargento ricotta cheese, fresh eggs, and fresh whipping cream, which are the base ingredients for your filling. Cold ingredients should always be brought to room temperature when baking because they combine together more smoothly.
2. Follow the Recipe
With cooking, straying from the recipe yields fine results. In baking, however, straying from the recipe can tremendously hurt the final outcome. It is essential to follow the recipe, especially the measurements, exactly as the recipe calls for.
Most cheesecakes use a traditional graham cracker crust, as does the Almond Ricotta Cheesecake. To make a 8-inch cheesecake, use a 1 cup graham ratio to ¼ c butter and ¼ c sugar. The sugar sweetens the crust while the butter holds it together. Form the crust into the bottom of a springform pan, and prebake the crust for 10-12 minutes. Prebaking ensures the crust will hold together when sliced.
Next, since creamy cheesecakes have the best, smoothest texture, be sure to use a standing mixer or hand mixer for the filling. Blend 2 cups ricotta, ½ cup whipping cream, ¼ cup flour, 2/3 cup sugar, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ cup water, and 1-1 ½ tsp almond extract. Whip until the mixture is fully combined. Add in the 4 eggs, one at a time, and whip after each addition. Stir in ½ c almonds, and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Chill for 4 hours (chilling the cheesecake allows for it to release from the springform pan with ease).
When baking, temperature is extremely important. The importance of room temperature ingredients was stressed above, and the oven temperature is just as important. If your oven temperature is even slightly off, your cheesecake will most likely crack. Cracks are not the end of the world, but if you are looking for a perfect presentation, calibrating your oven to the right temperature can prevent cracking.
Sometimes, even if you do everything right, a cheesecake crack still happens. However, it is not the end of the world. Using a topping such as whipped cream, sour cream, chocolate ganache, caramel sauce, or fruit, etc., can cover a multitude of baking sins. In the case of Almond Ricotta Cheesecake, you can use a covering of whipped cream and lightly toasted slivered almonds to cover the top.
Sargento covered the costs of the ingredients used in this recipe, but the opinions are my own.
Author Ted Levin is a food lover and cheese aficionado always searching for the newest recipe craze. You can connect with Ted on Twitter.
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