Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mascarpone Cheesecake

I had an extra container of mascarpone cheese in the fridge so I searched the net for a new recipe to try. This cheesecake is what I came up with. It has near perfect reviews on Epicurious.com. It is indeed a wonderful cheesecake but it is not as sweet as most cheesecakes. I prefer sweeter but I know many folks would disagree with that. I ate my piece without a topping of any kind and I'm sure that would add to the sweetness - maybe raspberry sauce or strawberries? I'm thinking this cheesecake is not as sweet because of the mascarpone cheese which has much more tang to it than regular cream cheese. This recipe also contains 2 1/2 packages of regular cream cheese but you can definitely detect the mascarpone. The creaminess of this cheesecake is out of this world. NO crumble to it whatsoever. Not dense or heavy at all. I baked my cheesecake about 20 minutes longer than the recipe stated and I think that it could still have used another 5-10 minutes in the oven. My worry was that I would bake it too much. Many folks stated in their Epicurious review that their cheesecake also seemed very much underdone when they removed it from the oven but it set up nicely overnight. Mine set up but I think it could have set up a bit firmer. I guess being underdone slightly maybe added to the creaminess....or maybe it's supposed to be not as firm? Also, after baking the cheesecake, the recipe says to leave it on a cooling rack for 20 minutes before adding the sour cream topping. Then you place it in the oven again for 10 more minutes until the topping sets. I kept that in mind when I originally took it from the oven. I figured that it would be baked 10 additional minutes after I spread the topping on. The one change I made was to use a traditional graham cracker crust instead of the vanilla wafer crust they called for. Vanilla wafers I'm sure would have been fabulous but graham crackers are what I had in my pantry. When it came to making the sour cream topping, I had to use low fat sour cream because we were out of regular. Not sure how much a difference that made but I usually always use full fat products when I bake.

I made this cheesecake last night and I was so anxious to find out what it tasted like that I cut into it after letting it sit outside to cool for about 2 hours. It was in the mid 30's outside and I thought it would be somewhat soft but it was way too soft to be eating. But that didn't stop me. It was pretty much room temperature in the middle of the cheesecake and probably the consistency of yogurt at that time. It was good but would have been better chilled. Tell me, am I the only one who has cut into a cheesecake way too early?

Look at the bottom crust.....there is none! It's still on the springform pan. It stuck, even though I sprayed it and it's a non stick pan. A brand new pan at that!

I have never reserved the crust/crumb mixture to sprinkle on top. But I did this time and I liked it. Plus, it kind of hides the imperfections of the top of the cheesecake. Even though there were no cracks in this one!

Since the texture was not really firm, it was hard to get a nice smooth slice out of the cake. But the point is....it tasted heavenly!

Mascarpone Cheesecake

From Epicurious.com

For crust

70 vanilla wafers (8 1/2 oz), finely ground in a food processor (2 1/3 cups)
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling
20 oz cream cheese (2 1/2 eight-ounce packages), softened
8 oz mascarpone cheese at room temperature (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

For topping
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan.

Stir together cookie crumbs and butter in a bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup crumb mixture for sprinkling over cheesecake, then pat remainder onto bottom and 1 1/2 inches up side of springform pan (about 1 inch thick). Put pan in a shallow baking pan and bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a rack, about 25 minutes. Leave oven on.

Make filling while crust bakes:

Beat cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, lemon juice, and salt and mix at low speed until combined. Pour into cooled crust and bake until cake is set and puffed around edge but still trembles slightly when pan is shaken gently, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly in springform pan on rack, about 20 minutes. (Cheesecake will continue to set as it cools.) Leave oven on.

Make topping:

Stir together sour cream, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt in a small bowl and spoon over cheesecake, spreading gently and evenly, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edge.

Bake cheesecake until topping is set, about 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge to help prevent cracking. Sprinkle top with reserved crumbs and cool completely in pan on rack, then chill, loosely covered, at least 8 hours.

Cooks' notes:
Cheesecake can be chilled, loosely covered, up to 3 days. Cut cake with a long, thin sharp knife dipped in a tall glass of hot water.

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