Yesterday the weather in Jo’burg was more than dismal – the sun hid behind the clouds which made me want to stay in my bed all day. But alas! I rose and headed to the kitchen.
I have made cheesecake before but for some reason I had forgot how intense the process is. There I was thinking I would have cheesecake to eat by dinner time, only to go to sleep with no cheesecake in my tummy and a mind full of cheesecake thoughts. (But don’t worry, as I write this post I have a piece of cheesecake on a plate next to me, so all is good in the world once again)
So, I’m sure that you are dying to know the secrets to my culinary masterpiece of a cake – and here they are. It’s actual quite simple, but very time consuming. I’ll start with the recipe for the cake.
I put my thoughts in purple next to the steps so that you can see what I was thinking when I made my cheesecake.
1 packet of tennis biscuits
60g melted butter
(the above ingredients are for the base)
250g cream cheese
1tbsp/15ml cake flour
1 can (385g) condensed milk
4 extra large eggs
1/4 cup/60ml castor sugar
250ml sour cream
10ml vanilla essence
- Preheat the oven to 160°C
- Grease and line a 22cm spring form pan with grease proof paper (I like to use margarine instead of butter and grease proof paper instead of baking paper as I find that it peels off more easily once baked)
- Crush the tennis biscuits in a food processor (If you don’t have one – like me – put the biscuits in a plastic bag, and then in another plastic bag, and bash them with a rolling pin until crushed. It’s actually quite a good stress reliever)
- Add the melted butter to the crushed biscuits and mix until well combined
- Press this mixture into the bottom of the lined and greased pan (I use a potato masher to get a smooth and even layer)
- Put the tin in the fridge while you carry on with the rest of the cheesecake
- Place the cream cheese in a relatively large mixing bowl and beat on high for about a minute until the cream cheese has loosened and softened
- Add the condensed milk and flour to the cream cheese and beat for about two minutes until well combined (You can pour the whole can straight in as a standard can is exactly the right amount)
- Beat the eggs and sugar together in a separate bowl on high for about five minutes until light and fluffy (The mixture will expand to about four times the size. It will become pale and creamy, but don’t expect it to form peaks or become stiff)
- Add the egg mixture to the condensed milk mixture
- Pour the sour cream and vanilla essence into the condensed milk mixture and beat until well combined (Make care not to over-beat the mixture. About a minute or two will do the trick)
- Pour the batter into your greased and lined pan
- Bake at 160°C for ± an hour until the cheesecake has a golden colour to it but still has a slight wobble in the middle – it will firm up when it cools (Make sure to keep a beady eye on it when it gets to about 55 minutes. This time mine baked for 70 minutes)
- Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before turning it out (I left mine to cool for a few hours and then left it in the fridge overnight and turned it out this morning)
Now for the salted caramel topping – this cheesecake would not be the same without it.
200g white sugar
80g butter cut into small cubes
125ml whipping cream
1 tsp flaked salt
- Put the sugar into a small pot with a little bit of water
- Stir on a low heat until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is completely clear
- Turn up the heat to medium and simmer the mixture
- Wait until it turns a golden colour and then take off of the heat immediately – this can happen very quickly so make sure that you are not distracted for this step (I left it for too long and it started bubbling like crazy even once I had taken it off the heat. The sugar burnt and I had to start all over again. It was a very heartbreaking moment)
- Let the sugar cool for a few minutes (until it isn’t bubbling any more) and then whisk in the butter bit by bit
- Once the butter is fully mixed in, add the cream slowly and whisk continuously while doing so (the mixture may look like a bubbling witches’ couldron at this point but don’t fear, the witches are far away and this is just because of the extreme differences in temperature of the cream and the piping hot sugar mixture)
- Sprinkle in two pinches of salt and whisk until dissolved
- Return the sauce to the heat for a minute until it comes to the boil and then remove immediately
- Add in extra salt to taste
- Let the sauce cool before putting it on the cheesecake
If you have made it this far – well done. I salute you and your patience.
At this stage your cheesecake and caramel sauce should both be completely cool.
Here is what I suggest that you should do next:
- Take the cheesecake out of its tin – if it looks like it might be stuck to the sides, gently run a knife around the edges to loosen it (but if you did a good enough job of greasing then this shouldn’t happen)
- Peel the grease proof paper off the bottom and place on a pretty serving platter
- Place the caramel sauce back on the heat until it has softened a bit (it can become quite stiff and unspreadable when cool)
- Pour the caramel over the top of the cheesecake and even it out with a knife
- Sprinkle flaked almonds and a little bit of flaked salt over the top to finish
Now, if you don’t think that your cheesecake looks damn good and you want a slice straight away, then you did something wrong.
My final thoughts/advice on this cheesecake matter
I’m going to put these in a list just to make it easier for you to read (and for me to write)
- Trace the bottom of the pan to get a perfect fit for the grease proof paper
- Get a friend to help you crush the biscuits and make the base – preferably a medicine student as they do everything perfectly (shout out to Uche)
- Use good quality cream cheese to get the best results
- Always eat the leftover bits of condensed milk out of the can with a spoon
- NEVER LEAVE A BOWL UNSCRAPED. Leftover cheesecakey goodness should never go to waste – never.
- If your cheesecake looks like it has puffed up too much, don’t worry, it will calm down after a while (much like me when I’m angry and then eat a piece of cake)
- Too much caramel is never enough. Be generous when putting it on the cake
- If you eat the cake in one day you avoid temptation for the rest of the week (I’m just saying this as an excuse as to why my cheesecake disappeared in one day)
- Savour every mouthful
*cries with joy and stuffs face with cake*