‘Tis the season for comfort food. Today’s special: New York style cheesecake with strawberry topping. Smooth, creamy and delectably delicious. $4.50 per generous slice,‘ reads the chalkboard in Stella’s cafe today.
Stella herself has a weakness for cheesecake. She likes to make a meal out of a large green salad and a slice of cake with any type of fruit topping. Her not-too-sweet recipe contains the juice and rind of one lemon, which makes it extra lovely. She has tried other varieties of cheesecake: key lime, chocolate, white chocolate raspberry, pumpkin, etc., but when all is said and done she prefers the simple and genuine creaminess of the recipe she discovered years ago in Molly Katzen’s original Moosewood Cookbook. ‘Montana’s Mom’s Dynamite Cheesecake’ is one of many tried, tested and true recipes in her collection.
Today, a walking club is coming into the cafe to indulge in some cheesecake and coffee after their long morning power walk. They phoned two days ahead and made arrangements, so Stella decided to make a couple of extra cheesecakes and call it a special.
“Here they come,” calls Kevin from the espresso machine, which is making all kinds of steamy and satisfying noises as he conjures up a vanilla latte for a customer.
Into the cafe enter nine windblown and rosy cheeked people, all in their autumn years of life. With a great deal of bustle, noise and laughing they push chairs and tables together. After a few minutes, the walking club’s representative comes up to the counter to inquire about the cake and coffee, handing Kevin a neatly printed list of drink orders, and asks for just one bill. “I like this walking club,” says Kevin to himself, as he begins grinding some espresso beans for the first order on the list.
Stella and Savannah serve the slices of cheesecake topped with jewel-red strawberry sauce. “Mmmmmm” says more than one member of the club. “We’ve earned this.”
Another customer who has been writing at a table near the bay window for much of the morning and mussing the front of his hair with his non-writing hand, eyes the cake and orders a slice, too. “I’ll earn mine later,” he says with a grin.
Montana’s Mom’s Dynamite Cheesecake – the Moosewood Cookbook
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit
Crust: Mush up with fingers and press firmly into bottom of spring-form pan (9-10 inches);
- crumbs from 16 graham crackers
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. flour
Or: Combine 1/4 cup melted butter and 1 & 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs and press into bottom of pan, which is what Stella does
Filling: blend until smooth and creamy (Stella uses a food processor for this, or a stand mixer. just make sure you do not overmix it or blend on too high a speed. You don’t want to add too much air to the dense and creamy cake.):
- 16 oz of firm, block style cream cheese
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 lemon: juice and grated rind
Pour on top of crust and bake for 25 minutes – or until set
Topping: blend in a bowl:
- 1 pint (500 mls) sour cream (full fat)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pour on top of cooled filling and bake at 375 degrees Farenheit for 5-8 minutes.
A must: Cheesecake must set in refrigerator for at least 12 hours before it will be firm enough to slice well. If you get impatient and cut before it is completely set, the top will be runny.
Stella’s Strawberry sauce
makes about four cups
- six cups strawberries – frozen or fresh
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is best)
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsps cornstarch mixed with a little cold water
Thaw frozen strawberries. You can put frozen ones straight into the saucepan, but the sauce will take longer to make.
Place thawed or fresh strawberries in a saucepan. Add sugar and lemon juice, and combine. Cook over low – medium heat with the lid on, but watch very carefully. The strawberries will begin to turn into sauce with a few whole berries still intact. When the sauce begins to bubble, keep stirring while you drizzle in the corn starch diluted with a bit of water to make a runny paste. Keep stirring until the sauce has thickened into a nice syrupy consistency.
Slice cheesecake and spoon strawberry sauce over each slice as desired.
Enjoy! And then go for a long walk 🙂