Ok, confession. This is the first cheesecake I have made…ever. I have always been intimidated by the cheesecake, but I decided to dive in head first and make one for company. I wanted a cheesecake that was firm enough to be served au naturel. I went looking for a cheesecake recipe and came across an Easter crustless cheesecake on MarthaStewart.com. My only alteration to the recipe was using coarsely ground almonds instead of finely ground almonds. I wanted the cheesecake topping to be more obvious. The ground almonds on the top of the cheesecake added a wonderful crunch, which made graham cracker crust a distant memory. The almond flavor complemented the orange zest in the cheesecake very well. This is a great cheesecake recipe! It truly is the richest, smoothest cheesecake. I am going to ask my mother-in-law, the family cheesecake expert, for her tips and recipes. I am hooked on cheesecake now!
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/4 Pound finely ground blanched almonds
4 8-ounce cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 Cup heavy cream
1 1/2 Cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a springform pan or an 8x8x3 cake pan and dust with the finely ground blanched almonds. You can grind the almonds in a food processor or put them in a plastic bag and hit them with a mallet. If you are using a springform pan, line the outside of the pan with a double layer of heavy-duty foil to prevent leakage.
Beat the cream cheese, cream, and sugar well with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, vanilla, and zest; beat until combined.
Put the roasting pan in the oven and carefully add boiling water. Let the humidity level rise in the oven for 15 minutes and then place your springform pan in the roasting pan. The water should come about 2/3 of the way up the springform pan. The water bath will help to protect the eggs from curdling from the direct heat of the oven. The added moisture in the air will also help keep the cheesecake from becoming overcooked or drying out.
Bake until firm- about two hours. Once the cheesecake is done baking, crack the oven door and let the cheesecake cool in the oven.
Once the cheesecake has cooled, refrigerate it overnight. Invert on a plate to serve.
- Make sure the cheese is at room temperature or it will not blend smoothly with the other ingredients.
- After blending the cheese until smooth, slowly add the other ingredients and do not overbeat at this stage. It will cause the cheesecake to puff up and then fall drastically. This will make the cheesecake dense and could cause it to crack.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least six hours before serving. This makes the cheesecake creamier and easier to cut.
- Cheesecakes baked in a slow oven for a longer period of time will shrink less when cooled.
- Do not open the oven door during the first thirty minutes because it might cause the cheesecake to crack.