Candied Ginger Cheesecake
In my mother’s kitchen, food failures were banished. Some went straight to the garbage can. Well, I say “can”, it was actually hole in the garden where she buried all her kitchen scraps. Others went to the basement and were housed in a giant clear square Tupperware container.
I have no clue why the Tupperware, but I was sure happy for it on those days when I was banned to the basement to practice my ironing, I would open the Tupperware box and sample her failures hoping she would not notice that anything was missing.
I’m sure I am a lot like my Mother. I make something and it disappointments me a bit and so I store it to taste later to see if it was really that bad. I’m my own worst critic.
February was usually the month that Mother experimented the most with food. The Tupperware pile usually sported hearts in various flavors. I’m sure she was bored with winter and Valentine’s Day is such a sweet holiday to do some creative cooking.
Valentine’s Day also inspires me to bake something sweet for my hubby. Today I baked a beautiful cheesecake. This is one of my personal recipes that makes a soft custard cheesecake. I do love the drier New York style cheesecakes too but this one is so creamy and decadent that it takes cheesecake to a new level.
Although my favorite topping is the rhubarb sauce my sister makes, this time I plan to top it with a mixture of fresh berries in a just-sweet-enough glaze. It looks so pretty when it’s all assembled.
Thinking back to the days of childhood, the goodies in Mother’s discard pile were pretty good. The baked meringue hearts were my favorite and despite her critical self talk, I learned a lot about the food stored in her Tupperware.
Oh, and did I tell you that she kept the Christmas presents stored under her bed?!
Candied Ginger Cheesecake
15 purchased Gingersnap Cookies, crushed fine
2 T. butter, melted
Mix melted butter into the crushed cookies. Butter the sides and bottom of a 8” springform cheesecake pan. Pour crust mix into the pan and press tightly into the bottom of the pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes. Cool.
Note: This crust will not stay crispy but will be saucy when served. It can be omitted if desired. I just like the extra boost of flavor it gives.
1 15-oz carton of whole milk ricotta cheese, room temp.
1 c sour cream
3 8-oz pkg. of cream cheese, about room temp. but no more than 70 degrees
1 cup sugar
4 T fine white dry bread crumbs (no crusts) (I use dry french bread cubes)
1 T lemon juice
2 tsp clear vanilla
⅛ th tsp salt
3-6 T minced crystallized ginger (according to your love of ginger)
Warning: This recipe will fill a large food processor bowl and will fill the cake pan to the brim.
Place all the ingredients except the ginger in a food processor and cream just until smooth, no longer. Scrape sides and give it another quick whirl. Stir in the minced crystallized ginger.
Pour into the prepared cheesecake pan. Using a knife slice, through the mixture to release bubbles. Place filled pan inside a large baking bag (kind used for baking turkeys) or wrap foil around the pan before placing in the bain-marie to keep the water out. Don’t close the top. The purpose is to keep the water out of the cake.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare bain-marie (water bath) by finding a pan to hold the hot water and the cheesecake pan. Pour hot, almost boiling water into the pan and add the wrapped cheesecake. The hot water should come about half way up the side of the cheesecake pan. Slide everything into the hot oven and bake 1 hour and 45 minutes. The cheesecake will puff ever so slightly and giggle when it’s done. An import indication are the specks of brown that will form on the top telling you that the cake is done.
Remove from oven and remove the pan from the water bath and foil or bag. Place the cake near the warmth of the oven to cool. Let cool 3 hours. During this time I usually make sure the cake has loosened from the top edge of the pan. A sharp knife can help release it. Cheesecakes need to cool slowly so take your time with this part. When cool, move to the refrigerator and let set at the least overnight uncovered. I prefer a couple of days before serving..
Remove from pan by pushing up from the bottom. Your cheesecake should be flat across the top so there is no need for extra sweetened sour cream to fill it like some recipes suggest.
Top with your favorite fruits and serve. I’ve enclosed my berry glaze to which you may add a mixture of fresh berries available at the grocer. Whip cream would be yummy as well.
Combine 1 cup of fresh or frozen berries of your choice with 1 c water. Boil 3 minutes.
In a bowl blend 1 cup sugar with ⅛ th tsp salt and 3 T cornstarch. stir into the cooked fruit, stirring constantly until thick. Cool. Stir into 3 c berries. Serve over cheesecake.