Abby Dodge is a contributing editor at Fine Cooking magazine. This month she is making cheesecake and playing with various flavors. Fine Cooking has a cheesecake recipe generator feature on their website.
For the crust:
8 oz graham crackers, finely crushed (2 cups of crumbs)
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
7 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
3 8-oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 Tablespoons finely grated orange zest
1 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
For the topping:
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Make the crust:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and the 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar. Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan (to press, use plastic wrap or a flat-bottom measuring cup). Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 300F.
Fill and bake the cheesecake:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, ricotta, flour, and a pinch of table salt on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle frequently, until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese has no lumps. Add the 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth.
Add the Grand Marnier, orange zest, and vanilla, and beat until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. (Don’t overbeat once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much and crack as it cools.) Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top.
Bake at 300°F until the center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55 to 65 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges, and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. The cake can also be frozen at this point for up to 1 month (see make-ahead tip, below).
Top and serve:
Unclasp and remove the side of the springform pan and run a long, thin metal spatula under the bottom crust of the cheesecake. Carefully slide the cake onto a flat serving plate. Sprinkle the 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar evenly over the top of the cheesecake and slowly pass a hand-held kitchen torch over the sugar until melted and caramelized.
To cut, run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.
Music Break: Slide Show by El Michel's Affair