Its everyone’s favourite time of year once again – EXAM TIME. The weeks leading up to exams mostly consist of me trying to figure out when I should start studying and asking everyone if they’ve started, rather than actually studying myself. There’s only less than 2 weeks until the start of exams, then the end of the school year, and then finally, the start of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims. For the first time, Ramadan is happening for me during school, aka fasting during school. I’m prepared – I think. I hope.
All of this will happen in literally the blink of an eye, so much like how this entire school year went by crazy fast. I still feel as if I didn’t get to know people truly LOL but I guess that’s what the next 2 years of high school are for right!?!?!? (note sarcasm pls)
Any who, today, before I enter my study mode, I would like to share wit yall a special recipe – CHEESECAKE. People who don’t like cheesecake are really missing out. The creaminess, but also fluffy, and sweet + tangy taste make cheesecake one of my favourite kinds of cakes (jk I like them all)
I made this recipe for one of the million dinners hosted by my family, where my parents invite family friends to indulge in traditional food and catch up and share a laugh or two, chit chat (“gup shup”) over steaming cups of chai – known to most brown kids as, *drumroll* BROWN PARTIES.
These “parties” (not your typical rave party) fill my child hood and my “teenage hood”, and they’re basically hosted every weekend by some aunty or another. My mom preps for the ones she hosts usually 2 days in advance, working in the kitchen, cutting vegetables, boiling lentils, marinating chicken, while me and my siblings float around and inhale the aromatic smells of various Pakistani spice blends and cuisines. As much as us brown kids complain about these parties, we can’t lie – the food is always amazing.
The task of dessert usually lands on me, thus bringing this cheesecake (more like I made it to fulfill my cravings of a frickn good cheesecake).
Some tips when making a cheesecake:
- Use a spring form pan, and line it on the bottom as well as the sides, with parchment paper. A spring form pan makes it easier to latch the sides on and off, so you don’t have to slice straight from the pan or try and pop the cake out. Lining it makes sure the cheesecake doesn’t stick to the pan – otherwise the cream cheese will stay on the sides and make it hard to slide off the side of the pan.
- Do NOT open the oven when baking. I know how tempting it is (honestly i just wanna pounce on the cake and eat it all) but this will ensure accurate baking time and so that your cheesecake doesn’t get any cracks.
- Another really crucial way to avoid cracks: Use a water bath – not necessarily putting the cheesecake in a pan of water, but what I do is just put a pan of water on the rack under the cake, just to get that steam in the oven.
- Use room temperature ingredients (eggs, cream cheese, and sour cream). Put them out 1-2 hours ahead.
New York Cheesecake
Cheesecake is always a good thing.
Slightly adapted from Epicurious
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker or digestive biscuit crumbs*
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4-5 tablespoons butter, melted
- Handful of chopped walnuts (optional)
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 200 g sour cream (almost 1 cup)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Mix the cracker or biscuit crumbs, sugar, melted butter, and walnuts if using, in a small bowl until blended. Press the mixture onto the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan (23 cm). Use a glass or measuring cup with a flat bottom to ensure even pressing.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl, until smooth. Add in the eggs 1 at time, beating after each addition.
- Mix in the almond extract. Fold in the sour cream. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
- Place cheesecake in oven. Fill a pan with water and place it on the rack beneath the cheesecake
- Bake cheesecake for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven, and let the cheesecake sit in the warm oven for 1 hour – do NOT open the oven door.
- Remove from oven, let cool. Cover and chill overnight.
*In some countries, graham crackers are rare (aka Saudi) – digestive biscuits taste the exact same if used for the crust.
*Crumbs can easily be made by putting biscuits in a plastic bag and crushing using a rolling pin. Sometimes I even use the stick (Idk how to refer to it???) from a pestle and mortar which works really good.
*Toppings: Top with fresh fruit, chocolate shavings, cocoa powder, caramel, or keep it plain and simple.