Sweet

Pistachio Gelato

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I love pistachios.  It is a popular nut used in a lot of “special occasion” sweets in India.  I will eat pistachios in any form–as an indulgent and rather addictive snack, in salads, with yogurt, or mixed in with breadcrumbs to add richness to your baked chicken recipe.  So, when I saw this recipe (original recipe here), I had to make it.  I will recommend purchasing raw pistachio butter online; make sure it is 100% pistachio, no sugar, no salt, nothing but pistachios!  Here is how this delicious, rich, creamy, and cold dessert is churned up!

Ingredients:

4 large egg yolks
3⁄4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
3⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp. pure pistachio paste (not pistachio cream)

Instructions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the milk, cream, and salt until combined.

 


Set the saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until a thermometer inserted into the mixture reads 170°. Remove from the heat and whisk in the pistachio paste until well combined.

 


Set a fine strainer over an airtight container and pour the mixture through. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days (this helps cooked custard bases achieve a stable consistency).

 


In the bowl of an ice cream maker, churn the mixture according to the manufacturer’s directions until it’s firm and billowy, and a spoon dragged across the top leaves a lasting impression, about 30 minutes.

 

Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until hardened, at least 4-5 hours. Later on, if it’s too firm, thaw it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before scooping and serving. For best results, eat within 2 days of freezing.

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Cake, Sweet

Cardamom Almond Cake

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Cardamom is one of my favorite spices.  So when I saw this recipe, I had to make.  What makes it even more special is that I used duck eggs in this recipe, to yield a richer, more moist cake.  The original recipe was written for a 9-inch cake, but I wanted to make a smaller portion–after all, it is just the two of us in this lockdown. The cake came out delicious and the duck eggs give it a wonderfully rich texture and a beautiful golden yellow color.  The cardamom taste is floral and prominent but softened by the nuttiness of the almond flour  You can, of course, make this with regular eggs, I have recommendations below:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 duck eggs (2 extra-large chicken eggs or three regular-sized eggs)

1 tsp of almond extract

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp of cardamom

2 and 1/4 cups of almond flour

2 Tbsp of apricot jam (optional for glazing the cake)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour on 6-inch cake pan.

Mix almond flour, sugar, and cardamom in a bowl.

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In a separate bowl (or measuring cup) which together with the almond extract, oil, and eggs.

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Mix wet and dry ingredients, folding them together to create a smooth batter.

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Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 mins (depending on your oven temperature) till a tooth-pick comes out clean.

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Cool the cake on a wire rack and during the cooling process, spread the apricot jam (warmed–so that it spreads easily) on top of the cake to create a lovely glaze.

Serve at room temperature, we had it with fresh berries, but it is wonderful just as it is.

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Breakfast, Sweet

Oatmeal Breakfast Loaf with blueberries

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As you all know by now, I always try to come up with new ways to “package” my oatmeal in the morning.  You can also tell that blueberries are really popular in my house (refer to Blueberry-Almond Oatmeal MuffinsGluten-free Blueberry Corn Muffins).  Here is my latest experiment–it consists of oatmeal and cornmeal and it low in sugar and it gluten-free.

Ingredients:

2 cups oatmeal

1 cup stone-ground, yellow cornmeal

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of baking powder

1/8 cup of sugar + 1 Tbsp for sprinkling

2 eggs

1 cup almond milk

8 oz plain greek yogurt

zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 cup blueberries

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F

Mix yogurt, eggs, almond milk in a large measuring cup (or bowl)

In a separate bowl, mix oats, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, lemon zest, and sugar.

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Slowly fold in the wet and the dry ingredients.  Add the lemon juice and mix in thoroughly.  I like to mix the lemon juice at the end because I don’t want the milk or yogurt to curdle when I mix all the wet ingredients together.

The last step is to fold in the blueberries.

In the greased loaf pan, pour in the batter and spread it evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining 1Tbsp of sugar over the top.  This will create a golden, sugary top which is really nice for an otherwise “not-so-sweet” quick bread.

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Bake for 25 mins.  After that, you can turn on the broiler to High for 2-3 minutes to encourage the sugar to brown and the blueberries to burst!

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Let the loaf cool before using a serrated knife to slice the loaf.

Serve warm!

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Cookies, Sweet

PB&J graham cracker cookies

 

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This is the type of cookie you make when you are trying to save ingredients.  After I made my icebox cake, I  had quite a bit of graham cracker crumb crust mixture leftover.  I was not going to waste all that deliciousness, so I came up with this “cookie” recipe.  My husband said, “this cookie is having an identity crisis! It tastes like peanut butter, but it also has the texture of a cake, but then it’s flakey–it’s weird but good!”.  I will take that! I only got 12 cookies out of it and while I don’t plan on adding this to the official Christmas Cookie list anytime soon, but I will make it again if I ever have extra graham crackers crumbs!

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cup graham cracker crumb-crust mixture (refer to the original recipe here)

1/8 cup AP-flour

1 egg

2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter (you could use any other kind of nut butter)

Grape jelly to top the cookies

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F

Mix all the ingredients (except the jelly) together in a bowl.  It will resemble a crumbly shortbread cookie mixture.

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Using a cookie scoop, divide the dough into 12 balls and place them on a lined cookie sheet.

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Roll the divided dough, like meatballs, into smooth dough balls.

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Using the back of a wooden spoon, gently press down on the center of the dough ball, to create divet. As you push down, the dough-ball edges will crack.  Use your fingers to press the cracks together, as best as you can–they do not need to be perfect.

Fill each divet with 1/2 tsp of grape jelly.

Bake for 15 minutes.

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Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for about a minute and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Store in an air-tight container for a week to 10 days.

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Dessert, Sweet

Blueberry Icebox Cake

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My husband and I love blueberries.  In fact, it is our favorite after-dinner dessert, whether we are trying to be healthy or not.  A few weeks ago,  I bought two large boxes of blueberries (in fear that we may not get fresh fruit for a while–pandemic and such).  With all the other easter/birthday related desserts I have been making (Raspberry-swirl Cheesecake, Banana Bread), we have not been able to go through the berries as fast as we normally do.   As a result, the berries needed saving.  I did not want to through them away and since I just made blueberry waffles, I wanted to make something different. Thus, the icebox cake was born.  I saw a recipe like this in Bon Appetit magazine and decided to make my own version with what I had in the pantry.  I also wanted to make it relatively healthy so that I could eat the cake every night and not feel guilty.   The recipe has a few steps, and it does require overnight freezing.  You may think it is labor-intensive but, making this was a welcome distraction to grading papers!  The overall verdict was that it “tastes good”, but “it could do with more layers” (I quote my husband).  Maybe, in the warmer months, I will try to tweak the recipe, but this will do wonderfully, for now.

Ingredients:

For the Blueberry filling:

4 cups of fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked

2Tbsp of cornstarch

4 Tbsp of water

3 Tbsp of sugar (add more if your berries are not sweet)

To make the filling:

 

 

Dump all the ingredients in a deep sauce-pot and turn the heat to medium-low and start stirring constantly.  This is important, you don’t want the berries to melt and stick to the bottom on the pot,  Nobody likes burnt filling.  You will need to stir constantly for about 5 minutes.  You can reduce the heat to low if you think that the berries are sticking to the bottom.  By the end of the process, you will have a pot full of gooey blueberries–resembling the consistency of pie filling.  Take the pot off the heat and cool completely.  Proceed to make the graham cracker crust.

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Ingredients:

For the graham crackers crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/8 cup sugar

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

1 stick of butter

To make the crust mixture:

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir all the ingredients, till it resembles wet sand.

 

 

Important note: Since I was “coming up” with the recipe, I grossly overestimated the amount of crumbs.  I ended up using about half of the butter, crumb mixture.  I made PB&J cookies with the rest–why waste ingredients?  You can most certainly halve the recipe.

Ingredients:

For the yogurt filling:

1 and 1/2 cup of vanilla greek yogurt

1/8 cup of sugar

2 cups of whipped topping

1 tsp of vanilla bean paste (you can use extract)

To make the filling:

Mix yogurt, sugar, and vanilla thoroughly till completely incorporate and smooth.

 

 

Gently fold in the whipped topping at the end.  Continue folding, till fully incorporated.

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To assemble the icebox cake:

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Line a 9X5 loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving some overhangs so that you can lift the cake out of the pan once it is set.

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Using a 1 cup measure, layer in the graham cracker crumbs.  Press down with the back of a spatula/measuring cup/or spoon to create a neat and flat crust.

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Pour in 1 cup of the yogurt mixture and smooth it out.

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Add all of the blueberries (I wanted to use up all the berries–that was the whole point of this recipe. My husband would have preferred a thinner layer of berries)

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Cover the berry mixture with 1 cup of crumbs–smooth it out.

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Top the crumbs with the remaining yogurt mixture and smooth it out.

 

 

Wrap the “cake” with the plastic wrap overhangs and set in the freezer overnight.

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Remove from the freezer and leave it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before unfolding.  If it is still frozen, you can place the bottom of the pan in a larger dish filled with tap/warm water–it should help with the unfolding process.

 

 

Unwrap the top of the cake and using the overhangs, gently lift the cake out of the loaf pan on to a cutting board.

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Slice into half-inch slices and serve!  It tastes better as it starts to thaw a bit, but you most certainly still want to enjoy it while it is cold.  This is indeed a perfect dessert for a hot summer’s day!

 

 

Breakfast, Brunch, Classics, Comfort food, Sweet

Blueberry Waffles, gluten-free

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I have this foggy memory of Saturday mornings from childhood.  My father sitting at the breakfast table, reading the newspaper and eating Eggo waffles–toasted with strawberry jam.  I think I get my love of waffles from him and I eat them like he does too.  Toasted, no butter or syrup.  If I am feeling indulgent,  I will slather on some nut butter or fruit preserve.  Waffles are now a Sunday staple, made even better because I eat my waffles while I Skype with my parents back in India.  It takes a while to make a large batch of waffles, so when I have time (which I do now, thanks to the pandemic) I make them and freeze them.  This past Sunday, I experimented with this recipe.  It is gluten-free and has dried blueberries instead of fresh.  I will be honest, the rice flour does give it a grittier texture, but when toasted, it actually lends a lovely crunch.  It suits my palate and I hope that somebody, somewhere, out there will enjoy these.  I know my Dad would!

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Ingredients:

1 cup of rice flour

1 cup almond flour

2 tsp of baking powder

2Tbsp of sugar

2 eggs

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste (you can use extract too)

6 Tbsp of dried blueberries

Method:

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.

In a large measuring cup (I love measuring and mixing in the same vessel–less dishes) measure and mix almond milk, oil and eggs till smooth.

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Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and fold in the vanilla and blueberries.

 

 

Turn on your waffle maker and let it come to temperature.  I like to cook mine on the highest setting to get nice golden and crispy waffles.

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Once the waffle iron is hot, spray the surface with some non-stick spray and pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the center of the iron.  Working quickly and using the back of the measuring cup (or ice-cream scoop like I did) gently nudge the batter to spread it evenly.  Close the iron and cook the waffles–I am sure your waffle maker will have an indicator to let you know that your waffles are ready.

 

 

Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.  If you are like me, I cool them down completely on a wire rack and freeze them individually.  When I want to eat them, I simply pop them in the toaster and they are ready to go!

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Breakfast, Sweet

Marmalade Muffins

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I love orange marmalade.  It is my favorite thing to slather on crunchy toast or a warm scone.  Two years ago, when we visited London, I brought back several jars of marmalade.  Now with the last jar, I thought I would try something different.  So, I decided to use it as a sweetener in my morning oatmeal muffins.   If you enjoy the sweet, bitter taste of orange marmalade, you will most certainly enjoy these.  Oh, did I mention that these are gluten-free too?!

Ingredients:

2 cups of quick-cooking oats

1 cup of almond flour

2 tsp of baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 cup orange marmalade for the batter, another 1/4 cup for the top of the muffins

1/2 cup yogurt

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

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Method:

Preheat oven to 350F

In a small bowl, heat the marmalade till it is runny, about 30-45seconds.  You will 1/2 cup fo the marmalade in the batter and reserve the rest to spoon on top of the muffin

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In another larger bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.

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In a large measuring cup, mix in yogurt, milk, vanilla, marmalade and 2 eggs.  Whisk together till everything is fully incorporated.

Mix in the wet and dry ingredients, fold to incorporate.

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Divide the batter into a lined muffin tin, you will have enough batter to make 12 muffins.  I use a 2-inch ice cream scoop to divide the batter evenly.

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Use the remaining 1/4 cup “runny” marmalade (warm in the microwave if it has cooled down) and spoon (about a 1tsp) on to each muffin.

Bake for 20 minutes.

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Cool and store in an air-tight container, in the fridge, for up to a week.  Warm in the microwave before eating.  Enjoy your morning!

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Breakfast, Classics, Quick-breads, Sweet

Hot Cross Buns-no yeast

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This was a Good Friday/Easter tradition for me when I was growing up.  My mother would make them when we lived here in the United States–you can find that recipe here.  When we moved back to India, we would get them from Nahoum’s,  Kolkata’s first Jewish bakery in  Hogg Market, or better known as “New Market.”  This year, amidst the COVID19 crisis, finding yeast was impossible.   After reading a few “no-yeast” recipes, I combined a few different recipes and came up with this.  I was pleasantly surprised with the results!  Please make these buns, this week and here is hoping that next year I will have access to yeast, to make a huge batch and share with loved ones.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus an additional 2-4 tbsp of flour for the kneading process
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder, make sure it’s not expired, or it won’t rise
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Zest of 1 small mandarin orange (any orange will do, the amount of zest should be approximately 1/2tsp)
  • Zest of half of 1 lemon (1/4 tsp of lemon)
  • 1 egg, the egg white goes in the dough, save the yolk for the egg wash
  • 3/4 cup 0% Greek yogurt, not regular yogurt, it will be too sticky
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 3 tablespoon raisins (but really, should you measure raisins? Just add as much as you like, but know that some might fall out of the dough during the kneading process)
  • 1/8 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon milk or water

Method:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Place parchment paper or a silpat on a baking sheet. If using parchment paper, spray with oil to avoid sticking.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, spices, zest, raisins and salt and whisk well.

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Add the yogurt, milk, and egg white in a bowl, mix with a fork or whisk until well combined.

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Using the additional flour, lightly dust flour on a work surface and remove dough from the bowl, knead the dough a few times until dough is tacky, but not sticky, about 10 to 15 turns (it should not leave dough on your hand when you pull away).

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Divide into 8 equal balls. Place on the prepared baking sheet.

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Top with egg wash (leftover egg yolk with a few drops of water).

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Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes. Let cool at least 30 minutes before icing.

 

 

For the icing,  whisk the powdered sugar with milk, in a bowl, until smooth. Transfer to a small ziplock bag and cut the tip. Ice the tops of the rolls in a cross pattern.

 

 

I was not patient enough to wait as you can see from the pictures, my icing started to melt off when I applied it.  No worries, it still tastes delicious!!!

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Brunch, Cake, Quick-breads, Sweet

Lemon, Rosemary, and Olive oil cake

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The last social thing I did before the lockdown, was to go out to dinner with some close friends at the Blue Heron.  That night, for dessert we had lemon rosemary shortbread cookies.  The cookie was flakey and buttery, but the lemon and rosemary added a lovely lightness and freshness.  I have used lemon and rosemary to roast a chicken, but I have never tried to incorporate it into something sweet.  I have been thinking about this flavor combination for a couple of weeks and finally, I created this recipe.  The best part is that it is low in the sugar content and is gluten-free, which means, I can have cake for breakfast–right?  Please try this recipe and let me know if you liked it or not.

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Ingredients:

1.5 cups of quick-cooking oats

1.5 cups of almond meal or almond flour

4 springs of rosemary

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tsp of baking powder

2 tsp of baking soda

2 eggs

1 cup of yogurt

2 tbsp of lemon juice (fresh)

1/3 cup of olive oil

1/4 cup of honey

1 tbsp of sugar

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F

In a food processor, add the oatmeal and rosemary leaves and pulse (or grind) till it resembles “flour”.

Mix the oatmeal “flour” and rosemary mixture with almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, and lemon zest.

In a glass measuring cup, add eggs, lemons juice, olive oil, and honey.  Whisk till it forms a smooth emulsion, almost like salad dressing.

To the dry ingredients, add in the oil mixture and yogurt and fold gently to combine.

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Coat your baking pan ( I used a mini bundt pan with 6 cavities) with cooking spray.  Take 1 tbsp of sugar and sprinkle it onto the baking dish–this will create a beautiful caramel-colored top to your cakes, which also means that you will be flipping the over the cake once it comes out of your baking dish.

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Divide the batter amongst the 6 cavities of the mini-bundt pan and bake for 20 minutes.  A toothpick should come out clean when you prink the center of the cake, after 20 minutes.

Let the cakes cool completely at room temperature before you invert them out of the pan.

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Cakes are ready to be eaten!  They taste good at room temperature, but even better if you warm them up in the microwave for 30 secs.

For a fancier presentation, you can glaze the cakes with a lemon drizzle.  The recipe for lemon drizzle is below, but I skipped that part since I had every intention of eating the cake for breakfast; lemon drizzle might be a little too sweet for first thing in the morning.

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Optional: 1 small drop yellow food coloring

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Dessert, Sweet

Raspberry-swirl Cheesecake

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Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, this is the only cheesecake recipe you will ever need.  Yes, that is a bold statement, but after making the recipe, I can attest that indeed, this is the ultimate cheesecake recipe.  A perfect cheesecake slice is thick, rich, creamy, and luscious.  A perfect cheesecake will have a flawless, smooth top with a buttery graham cracker crust.  Achieving these is a labor of love.  Plan ahead and start making the cheesecake a day before you actually want to eat it.  For the impatient soul, there is always the “no-bake cheesecake,” (click here for variation#1 and variation #2) but it is definitely not the same.  Enjoy this recipe, follow it patiently, and get ready to be crowned as the definitive cheesecake baker!

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Ingredients for Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Ingredients for Cheesecake filling:

  • four 8-ounce blocks full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp of Vanilla Bean paste (you could use 1tsp of vanilla extract, but I love the flecks of vanilla bean in my cheesecake)
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 5-6 oz seedless raspberry jam (optional if you want to make a jammy swirl, plain is just fine)

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Method:

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter until combined. (You can also pulse it all together in the food processor.) The mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly. Pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a large piece of aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath. Allow crust to cool as you prepare the filling.

Make the filling: Using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla bean paste, and lemon juice then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as best you can.  Pour the cheesecake batter on top crust and smooth it with the back of the spatula.  I was not too precise with this step since I was adding a jam swirl.  If you are planning on a plain cheesecake, take time to make a smooth top, it will make a beautiful presentation.

Raspberry Swirl: Take your favorite seedless raspberry jam in a small bowl and microwave it for 30 secs, till it is runny.  Using a spoon, add big dollops of the jam on top of the cheesecake.  There are nor rules here, you can use as much or as little jam you want, or how much “swirl” you want.  After you add the jam, take a long skewer (chopsticks or knitting needles will work too) and swirl the jam around.

Water bath: heat an entire kettle of water.  As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan—this will prevent any leaks.  Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside the pan and place it in the oven.

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Baking: Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan.  If you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking.

Cooling and putting your will power to the test:  This is probably the most important step in the whole process.  Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven in the water bath as it cools down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and water bath, then cool cheesecake completely at room temperature for another 1-2 hours. Then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.

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EAT: Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.

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