Bake for 12 to 15 minutes (10 to 12 minutes for soft, chewy cookies) or until golden brown. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes on baking sheets. Remove to baking rack. Cool completely.
Optional add-in’s: Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks. Chopped peanuts. Toffee bits.
Okay, life just got AWESOME(R). My son made a cheesecake for my birthday last year. It’s become the most requested cake in our family. It’s amazing. It’s adapted loosely from Martha Stewart’s New York Cheesecake recipe, but I have to say I actually like it more. And well, Martha Stewart is unlikely to be making me a birthday cake anyway.
FOR THE CRUST*
- 10 graham crackers
- ½ cup toasted almonds
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- Pinch of salt
*If you’d rather make this nut-free, take out the almonds and add in 2 more graham crackers for a total of 12 graham crackers.
FOR THE CAKE
- Five 80z packages of cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 ¾ cups sugar (you may add up to another ¼ if you prefer a slightly sweeter cake.
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- One vanilla bean, halved and the seeds scraped from it.
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- One – Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pans – you can either use two 9” pans or four 6” pans. (Don’t worry you can freeze the one(s) you don’t need right away. Line the bottoms of the pans with circles of parchment. This is really important. You’ll never be able to get the cheesecakes free of the pans otherwise.
- TWO – Process graham crackers and almonds in a food processor or blender until very fine. You don’t want to over-process them. If you do, the almonds will begin to a form a paste and you’ll need to start again. Combine graham cracker and almond crumbs, butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Transfer mixture to the pans and pat into an even layer using the bottom of a glass.
- THREE — In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides as needed. (You can also do this by hand. It just takes a lot longer.)
- FOUR — In a bowl, whisk together sugar and flour. With mixer on low speed, gradually add sugar mixture to cream cheese. Mix until smooth Add sour cream, the vanilla bean seeds, and the vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix until smooth. Scrape the bowl between additions. Be careful not to over-mix.
- FIVE – Pour cream cheese filling careful into the prepared pans. Tap gently on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
- SIX — Place a large pan on the lower rack of your oven. Fill halfway with water. Then place your cheesecake pans on the upper rack. This will provide the needed moisture for your cakes.
- SEVEN – For 9” cakes – bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Reduce to 325. Continue baking until cakes are set but still slightly wobbly in the center (about 15 minutes). Turn off oven; leave cake in oven with the door slightly ajar, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around the edge of the cake. For 6” cakes — bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Reduce to 325. Continue baking until cakes are set but still slightly wobbly in the center (about 20 minutes). Turn off oven; leave cake in oven with the door slightly ajar, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around the edge of the cake.
Okay, I know I’ve said I don’t really like ice cream much, but oddly enough I keep trying to find another recipe for ice cream in the hopes that I will actually like it! (And this one is actually very, very good… tangy, not-too-sweet.)Adapted from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cup sugar
12 large egg yolks*
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla or half a vanilla bean, scraped and simmered with the cream
Pinch of salt
- In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream and one cup of sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
- Remove the cream mixture from the heat and drizzle a small amount into the yolks, slowly, and whisking constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Do this a few more times to warm up the yolks before pouring the yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking constantly.
- Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture and whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and salt. Cool completely and freeze according manufacturer’s directions.
* You don’t need to use all of these egg yolks. Oh sure, you can and the results will blow your ice cream-loving mind. However, let’s say you find that you only have six or eight egg yolks on hand, this will also do.