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.

Strawberry Cream cheese Tart

For three years from the age of 20, I had a rigorous internship or articleship as we called in our Chartered accountancy course, based in my hometown Mumbai. It gave me several opportunities of travel all over India for audit including 2 months in Delhi each year. All of us interns, roughly in the same age group, we used to love it. It meant being away from home at client sponsored fancy hotels and visiting local tourist spots on the weekends. And at that age, partly because of ignorance and partly because of the courage youth provides, I was fearless, unabashed.

Once in Delhi, about 5 years back, in the midst of a very hectic working schedule, we interns needed a break. And all we could do was go for a late night movie post work. Of course our seniors were not happy with the idea, but nevertheless we went for the movie. 11pm to 2 am, in the freezing cold of January. Nothing happened, we were safely back in the hotel and it was just a movie night out.

We were thrilled at how we ignored what the seniors said and went for the movie, came back unscathed. But in hindsight it seems we were so stupid.

I remembered that night after watching the documentary India’s Daughter. That girl was gang raped in Delhi at 8.30 pm in a moving bus. And we were so foolish back then that the three of us walked backed from the movie theatre at goddamn 2 am. Was luck on our side? Yes. That must be the reason we returned safely.

I thought that the documentary was well made and it deserved to be seen, however shameful it makes us feel. A lot has been said and written about it and I have nothing more to add. But it makes me introspect my daily life and those of my friends, sisters and nieces. In this day and age, we women are not safe and it is prudent to be wise and act accordingly.

When I saw all the angst and long discussions about the rape incidents in India, it made me more worried about the short term. In the long term as further awareness gets created, we can hope to reduce such incidences, but for now, what else do we do but be careful? In principle I agree with liberal ideas of I will do what I want, but in reality it is not practical.

Somewhere it makes me sad that my subconscious has accepted the dangers because it means I have less energy or zeal to fight the negative elements. But pragmatism sets in as you grow older and now I want my young sister-in-law staying away from home to be safe. Even if it means she has to curtail her activities. I want my cousin to be conservatively dressed and not attract unwanted attention. At the same time time it makes me genuinely sad that I don’t have the guts to tell them ” Do as you wish, don’t be afraid of nothing in the world”, because the world is not so simple. Life is not in black and white.

In Paris when I used to come back home late from school, I used to get scared while walking back from the metro station, because there used to be a couple of drunkards on the streets and metro station. I once asked my host Danielle, if it was safe, and she replied; “Well just dont be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

That’s what it is. Wherever in the world, take care and dont be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And a little caution never hurts.

*******       *******       *******

And while the last of strawberries of the season are still in the market, I made this Strawberry Cream-cheese Tart from my blogger friend Saee’s Youtube stream MyJhola. It is a delightful dessert made effortlessly and the video on Youtube explains it very efficiently. I slightly tweaked the recipe to make it a tad bit sweeter and used chopped strawberries for that brilliant red color.

Strawberry tart

Strawberry Creamcheese Tart

What you will need :

  • 12-15 Digestive biscuits
  • 2 tablespoon melted butter
  • 225 gms or 8oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoon strawberry jam
  • 2 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 10-12 strawberries, cleaned and cut into slices

What to do :

  1. Crumble the digestive biscuits and mix it with the butter. Pulse in the mixer a couple of times till there are no crumbs.
  2. Lightly butter a 8 inch springfoam pan and spread this mixture on the pan and press gently with your fingers. Refrigerate for half hour till it sets.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the cream cheese and add the strawberry jam and icing sugar.
  4. In another bowl, whip the cream to form soft peaks.
  5. Now carefully fold it into the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Take out the biscuit base and fill it with this cheese and cream mixture.
  7. Spread with a layer of sliced strawberries.
  8. Let it set in the fridge for half hour. Serve cold with some mint leaves.

Strawberry cream tart

Strawberry Oreo Cream-cheese tart

I thrive on multi-tasking. Like most women.

In fact many a times I have observed that if I am doing just one thing at a time, I mess it up. And if I am doing multiple things, with arbitrary simulations at the same time, things go well, much to my disbelief. Of course there are stretches of time when there is deep concentration on something at hand, and then I have to disconnect, look for something else, ponder over it for a while, disconnect again and get back to the thing I was initially doing.

So typically my work space, laptop for instance is filled with at least 20 windows or as many as can fit into one screen without having to toggle frequently, and I keep on zooming in and out of each window multiple times throughout the day. And at times I have to de-clutter my working desk, clean of all the items and then begin creating a complex structure with files and papers and notes so that I can begin with a new energy.

And sometimes it is just for appearing busy and important that I keep my desk cluttered. Just to show off how complicated my work is. Which most of the times it is not.

But one thing I am sure is that the multi-tasking chip is absent in the men folk’s brain. Most of the men I have known are absolutely incapable of doing two things at a time. My husband finds it difficult to even eat when he is talking on the phone. And my dad would have a list of things to buy and just go to one shop and come back before embarking on the rest of the list, again one shop at a time.

The flip side to multi-tasking is that you over-estimate your capacity, in areas where you should concentrate fully. For example while unmolding this cheesecake, I thought I could continue talking over the phone being pressed against my ear, but to my dismay this is what happened :

smudged oreo cheesecakeWell, yeah, but most of the times it gets rewarded and I can accomplish three things in the time of two. So its well worth a shot.

strawberry cheesecake

Strawberry Oreo Cream-cheese tart

This is not a tart in the strict definition of a tart, but the crushed oreos baked with butter render a very flaky, crusty tart feeling to the base. It tastes great when coupled with the smooth rich cream cheese filling.

What you will need :

  • 28 Strawberry 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
  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam/ strawberry crush
  • 1 egg
  • 70 gms fresh  cream

What to do :

  1. Grease an 8 inch springform or tart pan. Pre-heat oven to 130°C.
  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. Bake at 130°C for 3-4 minutes till the crust sets. Remove from oven and cool completely in the refrigerator.
  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 strawberry crush and mix well.
  5. Pour this mixture over the crust in the cake pan. Tap a few times to release the bubbles.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 130°C for 35-40 minutes. The centre should still be a soft to touch, but the edges should be set.
  7. Cool in a refrigerator for at least an hour before slicing up. It tastes much better when cool.

slice of cheesecake

Enjoy this mouthful of goodness, sliver by sliver till there is none left 😛

Or share it with a friend while eating it, while taking pictures while writing. Multi-tasking, there you go!

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

Muffin Cheesecake

I am back after a long two week vacation in the US of A. It also meant a long break in posting anything on SnD. And boy, I did miss my blog. Its amazing how addictive cooking and blogging can be! My mind wandered to the blog several times, hands twitched to go to the nearest laptop and write, but there was too much going on. Family and friends and a lot of traveling. Not to forget chatting, laughing, gossiping and girly giggling. And yes! Poker nights! It was a good vacation, to say the least! 🙂

Ameericaaa is a great place in terms of  the variety of ingredients available. It is a land of extremes, with soo many options in everything. To the point that it gets annoying. Say you went to a local deli to grab a Vegetable sandwich. Now how complicated can ordering a sandwich be?! Believe me when i say VERY complicated. Look at the questions I was asked :

  • Which bread would you like? White/brown/gluten-free/oregano spiced/oat bread/rye bread
  • Would you like the sandwich toasted? If yes, lightly toasted or deeply toasted
  • What type of cheese? American/Provolone/Swiss
  • Which sauce? Barbeque sauce/Garlic?
  • Pickles?
  • French fries or potato wedges on the side?
  • What would you like to drink with it? Any cookie to go?

I am not kidding. After answering her litany of questions, finally I was able to get a simple vegetable sandwich!

But anyway, the options are astounding. A cook’s delight. So many fine details are easily taken care of. For instance one butter stick is 8 tbsp, with marking for each tbsp of butter. Or there are already several different types of milk : whole fat, reduced fat milk, evaporated milk, half and half milk, fat free milk etc. Just choose whatever suits you and use it. Elaborating the different types of cheeses available would  be a different blogpost altogether. Many shops like Walmart and Meijer are open 24*7 in most states! I was quite impressed. Looking forward to the day when so much variety and flexibility will be available in India.

Now back to the Muffin cheesecake. I have been wanting to make the actual “cheesecake” for a long time. Rich creamy goodness of baked cream cheese with a crisp buttery crust. Aah! Deliciousness.

We made this cheesecake at my sister-in-law’s house in Detroit and she is such a darling. She had some beautiful blue rimmed plates I fell in love with, and their patio was an excellent place to photograph the cheesecakes and of course sit in the comforting morning sun and gorge on the cakes! Yes, talk of dessert early in the morning.

Cheesecake in a cup

Prep time : 1 hour Baking time : 30-40 mins Makes : 12 cupcakes

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