Blueberry Cheesecake

For the first 19 years of my life I disliked cheesecake; well it was more like cream cheese in baked goods.  Cream cheese frosting?  NO thank you!  A cake made almost completely of cream cheese?  Not a chance!!  But my sophomore year at Johnson & Wales University we had to make cheesecake in one of my classes.  We made multiple different kinds for about a week and I learned that cheesecake can be delicious and recently I’ve even realized cream cheese frosting isn’t so bad either!

This cheesecake is silky and light!  It has a blueberry sauce swirled into the batter and extra to be spooned over each slice.  There is the addition of nutmeg into the crust because the best blueberry pies have some nutmeg in the filling so why not have it with a beautiful blueberry cheesecake too?!

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Let’s talk about some cheesecake chemistry and tips!  Cheesecake relies on eggs as the thickener in the cake, there is no flour in most cheesecakes.  The emulsifiers in the eggs yolks gives the cake its silky texture.  Since cheesecake is basically a custard, it should be baked gently like one.  The water bath technique is (in my personal findings) the best method to bake cheesecakes.  The cheesecake is baked in the mold and the mold is placed on a tall rimed tray with boiling water added inside the tray.  The oven is set to 350 degrees and the water never exceeds the boiling point transferring heat more evenly than air.

Cheesecakes can come with a few issues.  One common problem is cracking.  There are many things that cause cracking of cheesecakes.  Over baking it can cause cracking because the extra firm, over-baked egg proteins firm up pulling the cheesecake apart.  Gentle baking by the water bath method helps to stop cracking because it’s hard to over cook a cheesecake in such a gentle environment.  Also make sure to cool the cake to room temperature first before refrigerating!

The history of cheesecake goes back to the ancient Greeks. It’s believed that cheesecake was served to the athletes of the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C.  The first published cheesecake recipe was found in a cookbook from 1545 where cheesecake was described as a “flour-based sweet food.”  In the 1800’s people started to use eggs to make cakes rise rather than yeast.  Cheesecake recipes spread from the Greeks to Europe then immigrants brought it to America.  In 1827 a dairyman from Chester, NY accidentally made cream cheese.  He realized a need for it and distributed it under the company “Philadelphia”.  (Current day Philadelphia cream cheese is made by Kraft).  American’s added cream cheese to their cheesecakes and have never looked back!

Now New York style cheesecake has a story too. If you’re not familiar with New York cheesecake it’s taller, has a golden top, is made with more eggs and rarely has any toppings on it.  It’s said that Arnold Reuben, the creator of the famous sandwich shop, also created the first New York style cheesecake!

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Enough background talk, let’s make a blueberry cheesecake!

 

Blueberry Cheesecake

Blueberry Sauce

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  1. In a small saucepan add blueberries and sugar.
  2. In a small bowl combine cornstarch and warm water, mix until cornstarch is dissolved and add lemon juice.  Pour into saucepan with blueberries. img_2606
  3. Cook sauce, mashing berries until thickened. img_2608
  4. Pour sauce into blender (or use immersion blender) and puree sauce.  Place in bowl and refrigerate.

 

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients.
  3. Line cheesecake spring form pan with aluminum foil add crumbs and press down and up sides. (Use a glass cup)

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  4. Bake for 10 minutes.

Cheesecake Filling

  • 24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat warm cream cheese until smooth. (Make sure cream cheese is not cold!  There will be lumps!)
  2. Add sugar and beat together until smooth.
  3. Beat in sour cream and vanilla.
  4. Add eggs one at a time.  Don’t over mix, once combined you’re good!
  5. Pour cream cheese filling into crust.  img_2612.jpg
  6. Dollop blueberry sauce over top of filling (I saved some to use later after it’s cooked as a topping), use a knife to swirl through cheesecake.
  7. Place spring form pan on a high rimmed tray and pour boiling water into pan (1 inch tall).
  8. Place in 350 degree oven and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden and the center barely jiggles.
  9. Take pan out of water and cool to room temperature than move to fridge and let chill for 6-8 hours.               img_2618
  10. If you want, add the remaining blueberry sauce to a saucepan with 1 tablespoon water and 1/2 a cup blueberries.  Cook until it simmers.  Use as a topping for cheesecake slices!

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