Written by Chris –
I’ve made so many cheesecakes in my lifetime – in both home and professional kitchens. Growing up, I always used a 9-inch Pyrex pie plate and 12 ounces of cream cheese. At Nestlé, most of our recipes call for a 9-inch springform pan and 24 ounces or more of cream cheese.
Today, I thought I’d share several tips that work for me, plus a new chocolate cheesecake recipe (yay!).
There are so many different methods to making a perfect cheesecake – adding cornstarch or flour to the filling, baking the cheesecake in a water bath or placing a pan of water in the oven just below the cheesecake, cooling the cheesecake in a warm oven, etc. I don’t do any of these.
Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Cream cheese gets nice and smooth when beaten at room temperature. If beaten when cold, it’s nearly impossible to get it smooth. You must do this or your cheesecake will have flecks of cream cheese in it. I let my cream cheese and eggs sit on the counter for about 2 hours. Timing depends on how cold your kitchen is; I have a cold kitchen. In a pinch, you can place your cream cheese on a microwave-safe plate and heat it for a few seconds. You don’t want it warm. If your eggs are too cold, place them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
I prefer to pre-bake my crust, but it’s just a preference. Pre-baking is not absolutely necessary for graham cracker or cookie crumb crusts. If you are using a springform pan and your crust recipe calls for more than 1/3 cup of butter, it would be a good idea to wrap the bottom of your pan with foil just in case the butter leaks out.
Beat your cream cheese for a few minutes until it’s completely smooth. Make sure to scrape down the side of the bowl too (and your paddle or beaters) – you want all of the cream cheese incorporated and smooth.
When you beat in the eggs, beat them in one at a time on low speed. I’ve noticed that some recipes state to beat on high after adding eggs. I prefer low – when you beat at high, too much air can get incorporated in the batter. Air can mean cracks in the cheesecake as it cools.
When you are pouring the filling into the crust, be careful to not scrape the sides of the bowl. If you have any cream cheese chunks stuck to the side, these will be very visible in the cheesecake. That’s why it’s so important while beating the filling to continuously scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Move your oven rack to the center of the oven. Always preheat your oven – this usually takes just 15 minutes.
How do I know when it’s done?
Knowing when a cheesecake is done can be tricky. You don’t want to take its internal temperate and you certainly don’t want to stick a knife in the center as you would with pumpkin pie. The sides should be puffed (as shown in the image below). If you shake the cheesecake gently, the center should jiggle, but not ripple. As it cools, it will continue to bake. Most people think they have under baked their cheesecake, not realizing it continues to set as it cools. Try not to worry.
If using a springform pan, once you remove the cheesecake from the oven, place it on a cooling rack and immediately run a thin knife around the inside perimeter of the pan to loosen the cheesecake from the side (as shown above). This way, as the cheesecake cools, it will not stick to the side. If it sticks to the side, it will pull and the center may crack.
Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature. Remember, it will continue to bake and set as it cools. This should take about an hour.
Place cheesecake, uncovered, in the refrigerator away from any smelly food. It’s important not to cover at this point because you don’t want any condensation to build. After a couple hours, cover the cheesecake loosely with foil.
Cheesecake is best served when it’s close to room temperature. So pull it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you plan to serve it. If using a springform pan, loosen and remove the rim. Use a sharp thin knife to cut and make sure to wipe the knife after every cut. I like to dip my knife into a glass of warm water, then wipe clean with a kitchen towel. This produces a beautiful slice every time!
I created this Simple Dark Chocolate Cheesecake (pictured above) last weekend just for you! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did!
Ingredients for 16 servings:
- 1 1/2 cups honey or chocolate graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1 2/3 (10-ounce package) cups NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Dark Chocolate Morsels
- 4 (8 ounces each) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- Fresh berries and powdered sugar for garnish (optional)
PLACE oven rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 325° F.
COMBINE graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in medium bowl. Press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 8 minutes.
PLACE morsels in medium, microwave-safe dish. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; STIR. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until smooth.
BEAT cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl for about 3 minutes or until completely smooth and creamy (be sure to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula). On low speed, beat in eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Be sure to continue to scrape down sides of bowl. Fold in melted chocolate and continue folding until mixture is uniform in color. Pour filling over crust and smooth down top.
BAKE for 35 to 40 minutes or until edge is set but center still jiggles. Remove from oven; place on cooling rack and immediately run thin knife around inside perimeter of pan to loosen from side. Cool to room temperature; refrigerate for 3 hours. Cover loosely; refrigerate overnight.
TO SERVE: Run a thin knife under warm water, wipe it dry, and cut the cheesecake into slices, cleaning and wiping the knife after each slice. Garnish with fresh berries and powdered sugar. Store any remaining cheesecake covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
TO FREEZE: Place unmolded, cooled cheesecake on a rimmed baking sheet in the freezer. Once firm, wrap the cheesecake in two layers of plastic wrap and one layer of foil. Cheesecake can be frozen for 1 month. To serve, thaw overnight in refrigerator.
Enjoy! And be sure to share your cheesecake tips with us, too!
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