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Cheese Cake Tips


Cheesecake Tips
Submitted by: Jerseygirl

 Cheesecakes require a delicate balance of ingredients, particularly eggs, cheese and liquid. Don't make any major substitutions or the finished product will be drastically altered.

 It's essential to use the size pan specified in a cheesecake recipe.

 Add and blend cheesecake ingredients in the precise order given in the recipe.

 Before beginning to mix the cheesecake, position the oven rack in the middle of the oven; preheat oven 15 minutes. Use an oven thermometer for accurate oven temperature.

 Cracks are a common problem for which there are several reasons. One is that, as a cheesecake bakes, its moisture evaporates. If too much moisture is lost, or if it evaporates too quickly, cracking will occur on the cheesecake's surface. This problem can be alleviated by increasing the oven's humidity. To do so, place a shallow pan of hot water on the bottom shelf before beginning to preheat.

 To help prevent a pastry crust from becoming soggy, brush it lightly with well-beaten egg white to seal the surface. Refrigerate for 15 minutes before filling and baking.

 When making a crumb crust for cheesecake, form a ''skirt'' of aluminum foil around the outside bottom of the springform pan to prevent any butter in the crust from leaking out onto the oven floor.

 Prebaking a crumb crust for 10 minutes at 350F will help keep it crisp. Completely cool a prebaked crust before filling.

 Seal a prebaked crumb or pastry crust by using the back of a dinner teaspoon to spread 2 to 3 ounces of melted, semisweet chocolate over the crust, to within 1/4 inch of the outside edge. Put the coated crust in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to set the chocolate before filling with the cheesecake mixture.

 The cheese being used must be at room temperature. This makes it easier to blend with other ingredients, creating a smooth, homogeneous mixture.

 Always beat cream cheese until light and fluffy before blending in other ingredients such as eggs.

 Ricotta and cottage-cheese-style cheeses should be beaten or processed in a blender until completely smooth before adding remaining ingredients. Otherwise, your cheesecake could have a grainy texture.

 Once the cheese is beaten until smooth and fluffy, add the other ingredients slowly, beating or stirring gently. If you beat too much air into the mixture at this stage, the cheesecake might puff up beautifully during baking, then fall drastically. This creates cracking and a dense cheesecake.

 Egg whites must be room temperature in order to insure full volume when beaten.

 Beat all ingredients together until very smooth before gently folding in whipped cream (for unbaked cheesecakes) or stiffly beaten egg whites (for baked).

 Convert a plain dessert cheesecake to a savory cheesecake by omitting the sugar and adding various herbs or spices like ground cumin, chili powder or minced fresh herbs. For the crust, use cracker instead of cookie crumbs.

 Some delicate, custard-style cheesecakes are baked in a ''water bath,'' which simply means that the cheesecake pan is immersed halfway in hot water. The water acts as insulation and diffuses the oven heat so the mixture will set without separating. Although solid pans are suggested for use with water baths, springform pans may be used if heavy-duty foil is firmly pressed over the outside of the pan to prevent leakage.

 Cheesecakes baked in a very slow oven for a longer period of time will shrink less when cooled.

 Cheesecakes require even heat in order to rise properly. For this reason, it's important not to open the oven door during the first 30 minutes of baking time. Drafts can cause a cheesecake to fall or crack.

? To allow for variations in ovens, test a baked cheesecake 5 to 10 minutes before minimum time indicated in a recipe.

 Don't worry if your cheesecake's center is slightly jiggly or soft - it will firm as the cheesecake cools.

 Partially cooling a cheesecake in the oven, with the oven door ajar, helps prevent cracks in the top of the cheesecake.

 Concentric cracking and/or an over browned top indicate either the oven heat was too high or the cheesecake was baked too long.

 Set a baked cheesecake on a rack to cool. After 30 minutes, run a thin-bladed knife between cheesecake and pan to loosen. Continue cooling until room temperature.

 Leave the cooled cheesecake in its pan, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours before serving. This allows the cheesecake to set and will make it easier to cut; it also makes the texture creamier.

 Cracks do not ruin a cheesecake! Disguise any scars with a topping such as slightly sweetened sour cream or whipped cream, fresh berries, your favorite jam (stir until easily spreadable, or stir in 1 tablespoon liqueur). Let any filling sink into the cracks for a few minutes, then add more if necessary so the surface is even.

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