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Carrie’s Kitchen: A tasty trio of different takes on a favorite ... cheesecake

Dear readers, I’m up to my ears at home in vegetarian cookbooks as my husband is experimenting with going vegan for a month to see if meat-induced inflammation could be at the source of some health issues. I will be writing about some of those recipes as I get the chance to test them myself, but for now, I just want to think about happier things … like cheesecake.

I love cheesecake. Not in a way that I am the first to grab a fork every time it’s present, because I choose to have it just a few times a year, you know, to keep it special. (For ice cream, my other passion, I show no such reserve.) But as my husband talks to me about beans and lentils, I’m like a cartoon character with a little thought cloud above my head, thinking about delicious, dairy- and egg-filled cheesecake.

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So, this week I have three cheesecake recipes to share. You may already have a standard cheesecake recipe that you use, maybe handed down from your grandmother, or it was the first recipe you tried where the cheesecake didn’t get a crack in it so you vow it’s the only one you’re going to make. Not me. I love to try new versions of most things. So for my most classic version of cheesecake today, I chose this Oreo cheesecake. It’s got the chocolate Oreo cookie crust, a classic white cheesecake center, then you crunch up some cookies to place on top and bake into it, then drizzle over some chocolate ganache. Mmmmm.

Next, more of a cheesecake-ish dessert, with these churro cheesecake bars. You make a simpler version of cheesecake filling and bake it between two Pillsbury Crescent dough layers that are covered in cinnamon sugar. I haven’t tried this yet, but in my mind, it’s like a cross between a churro and a cannoli, which I’m hoping will be the next big cultural crossover food!

And finally, I chose a no-bake cheesecake recipe, which isn’t truly a cheesecake, but sometimes it’s nice to have something easy and less filling. Something you’ll feel less guilty about eating for breakfast the next day…

Enjoy!

Oreo cheesecake

For the crust:

1 ½ cups crushed Oreo cookies (not Double Stuf)

3 tablespoons butter, melted

For the cheesecake:

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2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1 ¼ cups sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup cream

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9–10 Oreo cookies (cut into small pieces)

For the ganache:

¼ cup cream

2 ounces semisweet chocolate

For the base: Line bottom of 9-inch springform pan with foil, tuck foil underneath pan bottom, assemble pan, then pull foil around sides of the pan.

Melt butter. Add ground cookies and mix with a spoon. Or mix directly in the processor if you used it to grind the cookies. Put the mixture in prepared pan and press firmly onto the bottom. Refrigerate while making the filling.

For the cheesecake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With a hand mixer, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Add sour cream and mix. Gradually add sugar and beat on medium speed until sugar dissolves.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until just incorporated and scraping down sides of the bowl after each addition. Add vanilla and cream, stirring to incorporate. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

With a sharp knife cut cookies into small pieces. You will have some pieces and some crumbs. Scatter Oreo pieces and crumbs on top of the cheese batter. Take a spoon and lightly push crumbs into cheese mixture until barely covered. That way the end result is a distinctive cookie crust, cheese layer and cookie crumbs on top.

Bake for 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 300 degrees and bake for another 50 to 60 minutes. This can vary depending on your oven. At this point the cheesecake should still jiggle in the center.

Turn the oven off and, without opening the door, let the cheesecake rest inside at least 1 hour. Cool to room temperature.

Refrigerate for at least 8 hours (1-2 days makes it creamier), before unmolding. Open springform pan, lift foil to remove from the bottom and, holding the cake in one hand, push the foil down and lift the cake with your other hand.

For the ganache: Chop chocolate and place in a small bowl.

Bring cream to boil, pour over chocolate and stir until very smooth.

With a spoon or fork, pour ganache over cheesecake.

Churro cheesecake bars

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 (8-ounce) cans Pillsbury crescent dinner rolls

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla and beat till smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Spray a 9- by 13-inch pan with non-stick spray, then sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan.

Unroll the dough onto a lightly floured piece of waxed paper and press all the seams together. Carefully lift and slide into the pan on top of the cinnamon sugar. Press to the edges of the pan.

Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the dough. Unroll the second can of dough and roll it out the same way as the first one. Place it on top of the filling.

Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar on top of the dough. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until light brown.

No bake black forest cheesecake pie

1 ready-to-use chocolate crust (Oreo or chocolate graham cracker crust)

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (8-ounce) carton Cool Whip, thawed

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth and combined.

Add in sour cream and vanilla extract. Beat together until combined. Fold in Cool Whip with a spatula and stir until it's mixed well. Spread half of the mixture into the ready-to-use pie crust.

Add cocoa powder and powdered sugar to the remaining cream cheese mixture and beat together until combined. Spread evenly over the cream cheese layer.

Cover and let refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Cut into slices and serve each slice topped with some cherry pie filling.

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