I've gotten to be quite a pro at uncovering expectant mothers. I did it with my daughter in law before she knew it and again this weekend with my young neighbor and dear friend. I don't know what it is that makes it so easy, but I can tell by the look.
As she sat across from me on the boat, this weekend there was a slight gesture she did with her hand, perhaps the way she placed it over her stomach, that made me look at her and say "Are you pregnant?" Boy, talk about going out on a limb! I was the one who was surprised when she nodded her head. Wow, maybe I can make a living at this, a human pregnancy test No, it's just experience, I've seen it too many times.
This couple has been very dear to me and great friends to both of us. He has been like a son to me, she a delightful daughter in law. Unfortunately they are moving, the day after Thanksgiving, and I am going to miss the best part. I would have been a great and willing babysitter as I love babies and live practically next door. I would have killed to have had that when my children were young and I lived in a town where I had no family and no "free" babysitting nearby.
She loves cheesecake...not many other desserts...so tomorrow they are coming for dinner and I am making her one and General Tso's Chicken for him. Not a great combination but each will get a favorite.
This is the first time I've baked a cheesecake and was surprised at how easy they are to make. They just take a long time to bake and cool so plan ahead. I will tell you it did crack, even though it wasn't supposed to. I think I over beat AND overbaked it...I was having such a nice chat with my daughter. But it promises to be divine and nobody will notice the crack because I will cover it with strawberries, just like she likes it. Plenty of strawberries!
I'm telling you this to encourage you to cook and try new things. Even the most professional and experienced cooks make mistakes. It's normal, we learn and go back to bake another day. Just one thing, make it the way the recipe says the first time. Later on you can adapt and make it your own. I hate when I read some one's adaptation before they have even tried the original.
Do try this cheesecake, it is quite a showstopper! They will think you spent hours in the kitchen when in reality it is a little mixing and a lot of waiting. Take it out of the refrigerator at least an hour before you serve it and make sure you plan to make it the day before.
Prep 30 min Cook1 hr 30 min
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
1 cup red jelly (not jam), such as currant, raspberry, or strawberry
3 half-pints fresh raspberries (I used strawberries because that is what she likes and she is expecting!)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.
Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees F and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check 5 or 10 minutes before in case your oven runs hot, like mine. It should not be perfectly set...it should jiggle a bit in the center.
Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.
To make the topping, melt the jelly in a small pan over low heat. In a bowl, toss the raspberries/strawberries and the warm jelly gently until well mixed. Arrange the berries on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Note: Measure your springform pan. The bottom of mine measures 9 inches.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten