Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A "Make Me Realize How Thankful I Am" Thanksgiving Cheesecake

Yes, I know what you're thinking.  "What the hay is this?", you ask.  Well, I know I've been absent for awhile so let's catch up.  Life has been nuts.  I wrote of it in October and it's only gotten busier.  Family activities aside, my business has been doing great and has kept me running.  Literally.  So, when not one, but two families (not including my own) hired me to cater their Thanksgiving dinner, I ran even faster.  Up two days before the big day, I was smooth sailing.  I was to deliver on Wednesday and head to the in-laws after (that's a whole new post).  Tuesday was final prep work and "make the cheesecakes day".  I had everything to make them and was using my dearly, beloved grandmother's recipe that is by far the best cheesecake in the world.  Men swooned over it, women envied her and her grand-kids always requested it when they visited. So, I was going to make it.  Have I mentioned how much I hate baking?  Well, I followed the instructions to a "T" and 22 minutes into baking time (it's supposed to cook for an hour), I have smoke bellowing out of my oven.  This is what I pull out.  (See pic above) My oven practically caught on fire.  I was so utterly exhausted that right there, in the middle of my kitchen, I had a knock-yourself-out temper tantrum.  It was so bad I scared the cat out of our den, upstairs and into our daughters bedroom where she didn't come out until the following day.  Not one, but TWO cheesecakes destroyed.  I had to make these today so they could set for tomorrow.  What was I going to do?  (Thankful #1)I called my superman husband and between him and his dad, they bought me a new oven.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get it installed until the following AFTERNOON.  Let me assure you that I had cried all my makeup off and grew about 42 more gray hairs. (Thankful #2) My girlfriends, 7 to be exact, took me to dinner that evening and assured me that it would be ok to purchase a cheesecake from Central Market, even though I wasn't too happy about it. I really had no choice.  The next day, 8am, I'm standing at the bakery counter at CM and the baker tells me that "WE DON'T HAVE CHEESECAKES".  I asked him for a towel and I started crying in it.  I mean like, c-r-y-i-n-g.  That's when I heard my grandmother's (and my mother's) voice say, "honey, you can do this! Now wipe those tears and move your tukas!" So, that's what I did.  The poor baker even helped me load the items in my cart (Thankful #2 1/2)(Thankful #3) My neighbor, Lord bless her, let me use her ovens to not only bake my cheesecakes, but to cater these meals. (Maybe I should take over a cheesecake?)  (Thankful #4) My clients loved everything.  (Thankful #5) I miss Nana, and yes, she would have been oh, so proud, even though I went all mashuga on her. (Thankful #6) My mom told me so. To end, it all worked out.  The moral, I still hate baking.



2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs
3/4 cups sugar
2 heaping tbs flour
pinch of salt
4 large packages of Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
Juice of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 300.  Mix the first 4 ingredients, in a medium bowl, well, to create the crust.  Grease a Springform pan with butter and add crumb mixture.  Press on bottom and along the sides of pan. 

Using a mixer, beat eggs until light yellow, adding sugar slowly.  Break cheese in pieces and add while beating.  Add milk slowly to mixture and beat well.  Add remaining ingredients, mixing well to incorporate.  Pour in prepared pan.  (You can add additional crumbs on top if you'd like, but I did a fruit compote.)

Bake for 1 hour. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN.  Turn off the oven, still not opening, and leave in oven until oven is cool.  Transfer to refrigerator and let set, 8 hours or overnight.

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