Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 22nd April 2011
Easter has always been a special holiday for my family. And like most families, Easter is not only a time to bring family together and create special memories but also a time to enjoy traditional dishes. For me, the two dishes that immediately come to mind when I think of Easter are grilled lamb and Cheesecake. But not just any cheesecake, it must be No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake. This year I decided to give our family tradition a fun new twist. Of course I made a Cherry Topping but instead of that no-bake cheesecake I made a New York Cheesecake instead. I know, crazy!
It’s not because I don’t enjoy our traditional recipe. In fact, I enjoy it a great deal. And it’s not because the family has grown tired of it. Believe it or not, the first question I’m asked at our family dinner is, “Aunt Grace did you make Cherry Cheesecake for dessert?”
So I don’t know where this need to change things up came from. I just thought it would be nice to have something a little different. The big question is how will it be received? Only time will tell, but I have a feeling they’ll keep inviting me.
Our Easter feast always begins with an Antipasto of freshly sliced Italian meats, capicola, Genoa salami and prosciutto wrapped melon with provolone cheese, bocconcini cheese, olives and rolls. Stracciatella soup (Italian egg drop soup-my favourite) is next on the menu. A pasta dish, usually homemade meat ravioli, lasagna or cannelloni follows that. Are you full yet? Honestly, it always amazes me how I can eat this much, but somehow I manage!
Then comes the turkey with all the fixings, mashed potatoes, gravy and an assortment of vegetables. We take a bit of a breather while the men congregate around the barbecue and argue about how to best grill the lamb. Each has their own way of doing it but ultimately it falls to the shoulders of the man who is hosting Easter that year.
What amazes me the most about this tradition is that a whole, just butchered lamb goes out to the grill but a whole lamb never makes it to the table? Grilled lamb is a definite family favourite but you would think after eating a huge meal these fellas could wait until it makes it to the table!
The lamb is always served with a mixed green salad with Italian vinaigrette.
And wouldn’t you think at this point we’d all be stuffed? Well, we are, but, hey, we’re Italian. That means we’re still ready for dessert. Our dessert table includes an assortment of Italian cookies, sweets and of course chocolate (we can’t have Easter without chocolate). The centre of the table showcases the coveted Cherry Cheesecake.
I’m looking forward to the dessert table this year because the New York Cheesecake is traditionally quite high, and it will look spectacular. And it will taste even better! New York Cheesecake is creamy, smooth and rich. What could be better than this? – Two New York Cheesecakes and a homemade Cherry Topping with hints of brandy, lemon and orange.
What traditional dishes will you be enjoying for Easter? You know I’m going to enjoy eating my way through this Easter holiday. Please know I’m wishing you all a very safe, delicious and happy Easter with your families.
New York Cheesecake with Cherry Topping
- Graham Cracker Crust
- Cream Cheese Filling
- Cherry Topping
Graham Cracker Crust
- Unsalted butter, softened, for greasing
- 250 g (about 9 ounces) graham wafers or 270 g (2 cups + 2 tablespoons) graham wafer crumbs
- 56 g (¼ cup) caster (superfine granules) sugar
- 113.5 g (½ cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- Using a pastry brush, grease the bottoms and sides of a 23-cm (9-inch) springform pan.
- If using graham wafers, place in the bowl of a food processor and process to a fine crumb.
- In a small-sized bowl, stir together the graham wafer crumbs, sugar and melted butter.
- Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up the sides of the greased springform pan, stopping about 2.54-cm (1-inch) from the top of the pan.
- Place in the freezer to set while preparing the cream cheese filling.
Cream Cheese Filling
- 1250 g (44-ounces or 5 250 g packages) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
- 375 g (1 2/3 cups) caster (superfine granules) sugar
- 24 g (3 tablespoons) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
- Finely grated zest of half a lemon
- Finely grated zest of half an orange
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- Preheat oven to 260° C (500° F).
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping sides as needed.
- Reduce speed to low, gradually add the sugar and flour; beat until smooth.
- Add both zests and vanilla; beat to just combine.
- Reduce speed to low, add the eggs one at-a-time, beating to just combine after each addition (do not over mix), scraping sides and bottom of bowl after each addition.
- Put chilled, crumb lined springform pan in a shallow baking tin. Pour filling into crust; smooth filling with an offset spatula.
- Bake in baking tin (to catch any drippings) until puffed, about 12 minutes (pay close attention to this baking time, some ovens will brown the top quicker than others – I placed a sheet of parchment over the top of the springform pan when the cheesecake top had just set, about the 6 minute mark for me). Reduce oven temperature to 93° C (200° F) and continue baking until the cheesecake is mostly firm (centre of cheesecake should still have a slight jiggle when the pan is gently shaken), about 1 hour.
- Transfer springform pan to a wire rack. Run a sharp, thin knife around the top edge of the cheesecake to loosen (to prevent the surface from cracking as it cools); cool completely in pan on wire rack.
- Chill cheesecake in springform pan, uncovered or loosely covered, for at least 6 hours preferably overnight or up to 2 days.
- 14 g (1½-tablespoons) cornstarch
- 44 ml (3 tablespoons) water
- 710 g (about 25 ounces) sweet cherries, divided, fresh or frozen, pitted
- 118 ml (4 ounces or ½-cup) orange juice
- 56 g (¼-cup) caster (superfine granules) sugar
- Finely grated zest of half a lemon
- Finely grated zest of half an orange
- Splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) brandy, optional (if not using – increase the amount of orange juice)
- Dissolve cornstarch in water.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 570 g (about 20-ounces) cherries, orange juice, and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved.
- Add lemon zest, orange zest, and lemon juice; bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Pour the cornstarch mixture through a small sieve into the cherry mixture; stirring to well combine and cooking over medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Reduce to low heat, add the brandy and remaining cherries and allow mixture to simmer, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat; transfer cherry topping to a heatproof bowl. Allow cherry topping to cool completely at room temperature; cover and refrigerate to chill.
Assembling New York Cheesecake with Cherry Topping
- Remove cheesecake from springform pan.
- Transfer cheesecake to a cake plate or cake stand.
- Spoon cooled cherry topping over cheesecake.
- Slice cheesecake with a knife dipped in hot water and wiped with a clean cloth; serve.
- Buon Appetito!
Tags: after school treat, afternoon tea, cake, cakes, cheesecake, cheesecake toppings, cream cheese, cream cheese recipes, dessert, desserts, food, food photography, food photos, fruit, fruit toppings, Summer desserts
Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Cakes & Cheesecakes, Dolci alla Frutta, Fillings, Frostings & Dessert Sauces, Fruit Desserts, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Recipes, Ricette di Base, Torte