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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What came first, the cheesecake or the pan?

Were you ever faced with the dilemma of making a cheesecake for a party or to give away and you wondered how the heck you were going to do that without giving the person the bottom of your springform pan? This is what I was faced with last week when a customer ordered a Tart Cherry Cheesecake. How am I going to package the cake without handing over the bottom of my pan? Mom and I pondered it and she came up with a brilliant idea. Line the pan with parchment paper and let it hang over the ends of the pan, so then when it's baked you can lift it out with the parchment paper.

So I pressed the crust onto the paper, in the pan. I wasn't sure how it was going to go. The crust seemed crumbly at first and I wasn't confident that the paper would keep it together in the baking process. But it did. Phew!

And then the side of the pan was removed.

When completely cooled, and refrigerated so that it's firm, I was able to lift the cheesecake off the bottom of the pan and placed it on a cake round, with the paper. Slowly, ever so slowly and carefully, I pulled the paper out while lifting up one side with a spatula.

Ta Da! And the customer LOVED it! This is a really delicious cheesecake, especially with the sauce on it. The texture is perfect. It's so creamy even without added cream and/or sour cream. But a warning, those tart cherries are expensive! I paid $3.20 a can! Thank goodness you only need one can! What I did in order to get maximum juice was pour the cherries into a strainer with a bowl under it and pressed the cherries into the strainer with a rubber spatula. This worked great and in the end I didn't even have to chop the cherries. They don't go through the sieve, but you do get a lot of juice for the sauce.

Here's the recipe:

Macadamia Nut Crust

3 1/2 oz. macadamia nuts, very finely chopped
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine macadamia nuts, crumbs, sugar and butter. Press mixture firmly onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. Cool completely.

Tart Cherry Cheesecake with Macadamia Nut Crust

1 can tart red pitted cherries
3 pkgs (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 2/3 cups white chocolate chips

Thoroughly drain cherries, reserving liquid. Chop cherries; drain again. In large mixer bowl on medium speed of electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla; beat until well blended. In medium microwave-safe bowl, place white chocolate chips. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stir. If necessary, microwave at high for an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted when stirred. Blend into cream cheese mixture. Stir in chopped cherries. Pour mixture over prepared crust. Bake at 350 for 50 to 55 minutes or until almost set in center. Remove from oven to a wire rack. With knife, immediately loosen cake from side of pan. Cool completely, remove side of pan. Refrigerate about 3 hours.

Sour Cherry Sauce

1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Reserved cherry juice (from cheesecake)
2 Tablespoons cherry brandy or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch and cherry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat, stir in brandy, if desired. Cool.

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