New-york style Cherry Cheesecake

New-york style Cherry Cheesecake

baked-cherry-cheesecake

There is a lovely nip in the air and what better time to sit and enjoy a piece of indulgent cheesecake with freshly brewed coffee?! Top it with some fresh fruit of the season – cherries, strawberries or even chopped kiwi. This combination of a tart fruit, creamy cheese cake and a crumbly, buttery crust is very fulfilling.

See notes below for more information about cheesecakes.

For the crust and the cheesecake 

What you will need :

  • 160 gram digestive biscuits
  • 40 grams melted butter (I use Amul)
  • 400 grams cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest/ lemon zest
  • 175 grams castor sugar
  • 55 grams dairy cream (I use Amul 20% fat)
  • 3 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to proceed :

  1. Powder the digestive biscuits in a mixture. Then add the melted butter and mix the crumble with your fingers to form a smooth dough like consistency.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 160C.
  3. Take a springform pan with detachable base and spread the crumb mixture on the pan at the bottom. Bake it for 10 minutes till firm.
  4. Take it out of the oven and let it completely cool.

baked-cheesecake-prep

  1. Meanwhile make the cheesecake filling. Beat the cream cheese well with a whisk or a hand-held blender and add the lemon juice and zest.
  2. Then add the castor sugar, cream, salt and vanilla essence. Beat well to combine all of it together.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and mixing well before each addition. Pour this mixture into the cooled crust and bake in a pre-heated oven at 160C for 40-45 minutes.
  4. The best way to check if a cream cheese is done is if it is jiggly in the centre. If yes, bake it for another 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven once done and let it cool down before frosting.

baking-a-cheesecake

Cream Cheese Frosting :

  • 125 grams cream cheese
  • 50 grams Amul butter. at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon orange/lemon zest
  • 300 grams icing sugar

How to proceed:

  1. Whisk the cream cheese. Add butter and zest.
  2. Gradually add the icing sugar, one cup at a time.
  3. Whisk well.

frosting-a-cheesecake

Decorate :

  • Spread the frosting on top of the cheesecake once it cools and adorn it with drained glazed cherries.

cheesecake-piece

Notes :

  • You can skip this frosting and just line the top with cherries or some jam. I prefer a softer, mushier frosting hence I poured it over the cheesecake. If you want a firm frosting, refrigerate it for 2 hours before frosting on top of the cake.
  • Different brands of cream cheese are available in the market. Philadelphia and D’lecta are two brands I have most commonly seen. The Philadelphia cream cheese is costly (650 for 225 grams), but D’lecta cream cheese is also very good and costs Rs. 650-700 for 800 grams. In Mumbai it is available in Arife and a lot of stores having a cold storage facility.
  • Cheesecakes tend to crack at the top after baking. To prevent this they are baked in a water bath. But to keep things simple, I have avoided a water bath and topped the baked cheesecake with a cream cheese frosting and some cherries.
  • Cheesecakes are dense and continue to bake even when removed from the oven due to the latent heat. So to avoid over-baking it should be slightly moist at the centre when you stop baking.
  • After removing cake from the oven, loosen the sides with a spatula or a knife. It allows it to cool without breaking.

Persimmon Eggless No-bake cheesecake

Pregnancy Blues

Last Sunday, husband and I were sitting in Kala Ghoda Cafe, having their most delicious rösti and hot chocolate, when a group of girls and boys occupied the adjacent table. They were perhaps 3-4 years younger than us, but in an entirely different zone of life. They were chatting, laughing, constantly getting up to take selfies and creating a hullabaloo in the tiny little cafe. While I was clumsily sitting with my 30 week pregnant belly and thinking out aloud ‘We will never be this wild and free again’. The husband heard it and was alarmed at why was I suddenly feeling this feeling of being trapped. I saw the worried look on his face and assured him how I am fine, and I so want the baby and how it is the correct thing to do and the next stage of life and so on.

Just a day back, at our pregnancy and lamaze class, Fit for Birth, the counsellor had advised us to be on a lookout for pregnancy and postpartum blues. Although I have never been capable of having the dramatized versions of “blues”, I knew I was in that zone.

Now my subconscious knows how badly I want this baby and the two-three months that it took us to get pregnant, I would cry like a baby when I got my periods. But still, now it feels like I have been pregnant forever. It is awesome, let me tell you, this whole thing of making a baby inside me, it makes me feel almost God-like. I am making kidneys, brain, lungs, heart, arms, legs, eyes; you name it, I am making it. So that part is amazing. But it is taking a toll on my senses.

There is a constant feeling of tiredness, fatigue, acidity, it feels as if my body is burning at times and uninterrupted sound sleep at night hasn’t been granted in a long long time. When I look in the mirror I can see a lumpy body, lack-lustre hair, mildly puffy eyes and pimpled cheeks. We haven’t been able to get out of the city in the last 3-4 months and it looks difficult for at least another 5-6 months.I long for that Pineapple daiquiri with strong white rum, and a puff of the clove cigarette Gudang Garam I love and indulge myself in once every two months or so.

Strangely, most of my dresses still fit me, with a stretch over the belly, but it makes me wonder what kind of clothes did I wear pre-pregnancy? (Mental note : I need to re-look at my dressing style once back in shape). And thankfully all my medical stats are on track, so I can manage to do most of my daily stuff uninterrupted, albeit with less energy. But the sheer willpower required to get out of bed every morning, make breakfast, get dressed, go to work, attend pregnancy exercise classes in the evening and stay awake till at least 9.30 pm is exhausting. I long to be me, the one with a zillion times more enthusiasm than now.

When my best friend was pregnant and in her last trimester a couple of months back, I remember her telling me how she too was bored. At that time, I thought, ‘Oh, how could you be bored of this miracle?’. But I hear ye now, and I know exactly how it feels.

On the other hand, or may be on the same lines, I am desperate to see my baby now. I want to hold him/ her in my arms, look at that little face and see how it’s little hands hold on to my finger. But yeah, no sooner than full term. I was born about 6 weeks premature, and my momma had a rough six months nursing me to health. So I better wait and carry the baby in my womb to meetings and movies, and not eject it prematurely.

Perhaps once my mom-in-law is back from the US in 15 days, I would feel relief. Relief from the responsibility of running the house, freedom from worrying if the maid will show up, not being in charge of shopping for groceries and having someone experienced to talk to in the middle of the night if the baby is aggressively kicking.

Well, till then, its time to enjoy the different shades of blue.

*******       *******       *******

Meanwhile these gorgeous beauties are in the market. Hachiya Persimmons or Amar-phal, they are exotically delicious once fully ripe, but cut them a day earlier and you will be shocked at their astringence.

persimmons

This fruit can be beautifully pureed. Just unplug the green head, cut it into four pieces and puree it in a mixer. Thats it. With the skin.

Opening a persimmon

I made a no-bake low calorie cheesecake with these beauties and it looked gorgeous!

A slice of cheesecake

No-bake Persimmon cheesecake

What you will need :

  • 3 ripe Persimmons (2+1)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 250 gms paneer (cottage cheese)
  • 300 gms hung curd (about 650-700 gms curd)
  • 200 gms Digestive biscuits
  • 60 gms butter (Amul)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 5 tsp Gelatin (4 + 1)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup water (1 + 1/2)

First layer of cheesecake

What to do :

  1. Hang 700 gms curd so that the water drains. Roughly it will reduce to half the volume.Take 300 gm of such hung curd.
  2. Break digestive biscuits into a crumbly powder . Soften the butter and mix it with the crumbs to form an even paste. Then cover the bottom of a 10 inch springform pan with it and press down really hard. Refrigerate for an hour till it sets.
  3. Combine the grated hung curd and grated paneer. Add powdered sugar. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix well to remove all clumps. Set aside.
  4. Puree 2 ripe persimmons.
  5. Add 4 tsp gelatin in 1 cup water and keep aside. This process is called blooming.
  6. Prepare a double boiler. Essentially a large utensil to boil water and a smaller utensil which can be placed within. Heat the gelatin-water mix in this double broiler. Do not let it boil. Boiling destroys the thickening capacity of gelatin.
  7. Heat the persimmon puree in a separate bowl. Then add the heated gelatin with the persimmon pure, and take it off heat.
  8. Lightly mix the persimmon and gelatin mixture with the hung curd and paneer mixture, till fully incorporated.
  9. Take out the chilled biscuit pan and pour the cheesecake mix on it. Press evenly and again chill for sometime.To make the persimmon glaze :
    1. Make a puree with 1 persimmon. Put on gentle heat.
    2. Bloom 1 tsp gelatin in ½ cup water and heat over double broiler as earlier.
    3. Add to persimmon puree. Mix well.
    4. Pour over the chilled cheesecake.

    Chill the cheesecake again for an hour, un-mould and serve!

Side view of Persimmon cheesecake

Notes :

  • This is not a very sweet dessert. But the mild tartness of the fruit goes very well with the hung curd and paneer to produce a delicate light dessert.
  • You can add some cinnamon and honey to with the paneer and hung curd to give it a spicy autumn feeling.

With my dad in Dharavi and Oreo cheesecake

About ten years back, my dad, a cop with the Mumbai police department, was in-charge of Dharavi police station. Every night, or every morning (if it was a night duty), he would come home distressed and in a generally foul mood. Dharavi does that to you. Back in those days,  when the Hindu-Muslim communal tension was very high in that area, he would be constantly on the edge, on or off duty. He recalls an incident when two “warring” communities, killed a guy in a gang war like situation, and they told the police that they would sort it out themselves. The police need not intervene! These so-called ‘bhais’ or hooligans were always ready to take law in their own hands.

Fast forward ten years, and on last Sunday he went to Dharavi with his daughter. In his entire police career of 25 odd years, I had not seen any of his police stations. When at home, he is a milder and warmer person. But in essence, he is quite a strict fellow. His voice turns hoarse, brisk and commanding when talking to his fellow comrades. I love to see that part of him. Love to see the power which he commands, even now after retiring from the department. So when I said that I want to visit Dharavi with Akshay’s aunt Sonali (a terrific writer), he was taken aback. Or may be not. He forever knew that I have this keeda in me, and that someday his little daughter is going to do such ‘outrageous’ things like visiting places he kept us far away from. Nevertheless, he agreed to come with us. (There was no way he was going to let us go alone.)

Dharavi, is entirely different now than the glorified slumdog kind of place. It is so much better than what we have seen in the movies. I can go on and on about Dharavi, but in the next post.

For now, I was seeing my dad in a different light. A Dharavi fixer (Dharavi resident who takes you on a tour for a fee), Mr. Peter accompanied us on the three-hour walk. We shopped insanely at the Kumbhar wada (potters corner), walked down the narrow alleys, watched Lijjat papad making women, and chatted along all the way. He was telling us anecdotes and incidents which had happened when he was there and was marveled at the changes that had occurred in the last ten years. It was Dussehra, and everyone was dressed pretty and doing pooja of their tools of work. We would stop and talk to the residents, click photos, and be a part of their lives for a few moments. Some of them even invited us in their home to be a part of their pooja and to take blessings. It was a very heart-warming experience.

Now if you know my dad, you know he is quite a no-nonsense person. For the entire time I kept thinking, now he is going to ask me to stop talking to random people, or stop taking their pictures. He is going to get disturbed with the fact that his daughter is in such an infamous part of the city and, would ask us to turn around and head back home. Strangely, none of that happened. He enjoyed every minute of it. And once or twice I even saw him looking proudly at me. (Yay!)

It was a beautiful day, and a walk that I will cherish for a long time to come. Do you have some favourite days with your dad? Do write in, I would love to read.

In the meanwhile, I made this Oreo Cheesecake for my best friend’s brother. It looked beautiful. Black and White. With just one 8oz pack of cream cheese, it is frugal and still very delicious. I used Philadelphia cream cheese which I stock up on my monthly trip to Crawford market.

Oreo crust cheesecake

What you will need :

  • 28 Oreo cookies, ground to a powder in a mixer
  • 3 tbsp regular butter
  • 1 pack / 225 gms  / 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 70 gms powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 70 gms fresh  cream
  • 2-3 Oreo cookies, chopped up

What to do :

  1. Line an 8 inch pan with parchment paper, both base and the sides. This step is very crucial as the cheesecake cannot be inverted and has to be pulled out of the pan and parchment removed. If you have a springform pan, feel free to use it.
  2. Mix together the ground oreo cookies and melted butter and press it into the pan. Smoothen it out with your fingers and press it tightly in.
  3. Whisk together the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl until smooth.
  4. Then add the egg, followed by fresh cream until it forms a smooth mixture.Add the vanilla extract/ essence.
  5. Pour this mixture over the crust in the cake pan. Top with a few more Oreo cookies.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 160°C in a water bath for 35-45 minutes. The centre should still be a little jiggly. The water keeps the heat in the oven gentle.
  7. Once cooled, refrigerate the cake for at least 3-4 hours before slicing up. It tastes much better when cool.

Look out for:

  1. It is somewhat tricky to unmold the cheesecake from the springform pan or from the parchment paper. Be careful while doing so, and do it only after chilling it for an hour.
  2. For the waterbath, fill a bigger vessel (which fits in your oven) with hot water and place the cheesecake filled pan in the water filled vessel. The water should come upto about half inch of cheesecake pan. This prevents the cheesecake from crumbling and getting dry.

p.s : The cheesecake slipped from my hand while unmolding, and this is what happened : Smudged.I remolded it and gave it to my friend. Got reports that it tasted awesome. Now don’t fret, sometimes such accidents happen. 🙂

Oreo cheesecake

No bake Mango Cheesecake

Mango Cheesecake

My grandmother was visiting us for a couple of days, and we had a great time chatting about life, spirituality and everything in between. And of-course playing cards (All grandmothers love it, don’t they?) She was also was quite impressed by my blog (Ahem!). It featured one of her specialty desserts, The Homemade Chocolate (one which caught her eye in a magazine when she was newly married.) She was quite happy about the fact that her grand-daughter who wouldn’t even want to make tea as a kid and a teen, is now suddenly (since the last two years) cooking a lot and “putting” it on a “computer” 😀

Well, having said all that it was becoming imperative that I would have to make something for her, which she has not had before. She is not very fond of eggs. Plus she has stayed in different Indian states and learnt to cook and enjoyed their cuisine. It was definitely a challenge to make such a never eaten before eggless dessert.

Meanwhile, I had recently become a member @ Chef At Large (CAL). Browsing through their website I found this no-bake cheesecake recipe by Harpreet Bedi Chadha. It sounded great and looked awesome. It was definitely shortlisted.

Another big bonus was a bag full of luscious just-ripe Alphonso mangoes from our native place in Konkan area in coastal Maharashtra delivered to our house by my dad. Now this mango cheesecake was a must do!

I tweaked Harpreet’s recipe to adjust to my springform pan, and made it one evening and chilled it overnight.

Mango cheesecake in the making

Ingredients :

  • 3 ripe Alphonso mangoes
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 250 gms malai paneer (cottage cheese)
  • 300 gms hung curd (about 650-700 gms curd)
  • 200 gms Digestive biscuits
  • 60 gms butter (Amul)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 5 tsp Gelatin
  • 1 and 1/2 cup water

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