It just does.
Never mind that you've never made a cheesecake before. Never mind that, as it turns out, cheesecake falls if left in the fridge overnight, and there's no time to remake it (the irony, of course, being that it was made a day in advance so that, in the event of a disaster, there would be time for it to be remade). Never mind that the pink turned out more pepto and less "it's a girl"...Never mind all that. You persevere.
And it's lucky that you did because it was delicious. And this is coming from a self-professed cheesecake hater. I know, I know. Credibility plummeting. Bear with me, though, because I know a good thing when I taste it. And this was it.
The cake itself was pretty much a guaranteed win because it was from Joanne Chang's Flour Cookbook, and everything Joanne touches turns to baking gold. But, aside from the obvious risks involved with baking an entire new variety of cake for the first time, I also did a little on-the-fly improvising with the crust. No big deal - I just replaced the graham crackers with Biscoff Cookies - but not having any precedent or instinct for these sorts of things, I had no idea if it was a simple 1:1 replacement. It turns out it was.
I had already planned to top the cake with girl-themed rubber duckies (one of my favorite, easy baby shower tricks; you can find them online), but at the last minute I grabbed some food coloring and dyed the cake pink too. I'll be honest: it was petrifying. Once you start adding food coloring, there's no going back. But although I would've liked it to be a little more obviously pink, I arrived at a formula of about 7-8 drops red + 1.5 drops blue to get to this shade of pink. It matched the ducks almost perfectly, for better or worse.
In the end, this ended up being a learning experience. I'll probably never try another cheesecake recipe, after tasting the perfectly tangy creaminess of Joanne's recipe and the crumbly cinnamony-ness of the Biscoff crust. But in the future, I'll definitely avoid letting the finished product sit too long so that it maintains its gorgeous straight-out-of-the-oven height. In the course of my research, I discovered that it may be advantageous to actually let the cake sit for 4-6 hours in the pan before baking. Next time, I might also consider mixing the filling in the stand mixer, rather than the food processor to try to get a little more air into the batter, which will translate into a little fluffier cake.
"It's a Girl" Vanilla Cheesecake with Biscoff Cookie Crust
Adapted, very slightly, from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe
48 graham crackers (12 sheets) or about 32 Biscoff cookies
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons + 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 pounds full fat plain cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 large eggs, warmed to room temperature
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is preferable)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350F.
Cover the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper (not wax paper!). Generously butter a springform pan (or thoroughly coat with nonstick spray), ensuring the bottom and sides are completely covered. Set it aside.
In a food processor, pulse the graham cracker or Biscoff cookies into crumbs. Use 2-3 Tablespoons of the crumbs to dust the sides of the pan. Add the butter and the 2 Tablespoons of sugar and process until the mixture becomes uniform. Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake the crust for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside on a wire rack. Turn down the oven to 325 degrees.
While the crust is baking, clean the bowl of the food processor or fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Process the cream cheese or beat on medium speed for at least one minute or until smooth. Add the remaining sugar and process or beat for 10-15 seconds, or until combined. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs and process or beat for 1-2 minutes, or until well-mixed. Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, salt and sour cream and process or beat for 1-2 more minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl one more time and process or beat for 15-20 more second, just to make sure everything is smooth and thoroughly mixed. Pour the mixture into the baked crust.
Place the springform pan in a deep roasting pan and pour enough water into the roasting pan to reach about halfway up the side of the springform. Gently place on the oven rack and bake for 90 minutes or until the sides of the cheesecake are set, but the center wiggles just a bit.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven, and let it cool on a wire rack at room temperature for about an hour, and Joanne also recommends refrigerating for 3-4 hours before serving. I refrigerated overnight and the cake fell, so, um, don't exceed 4 hours.
To serve, remove the sides of the pan but do not remove cake from the pan bottom. Just slice and serve straight from the bottom of the springform pan.
Store cheesecake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
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