I am thankful for crisp and cool autumn days with falling leaves, dozens of cousins, and sisters competing for space in Mom's kitchen.
On the menu for Thursday is Mom's Eureka Cheesecake. It took her several tries to find the combination she liked best. She says this recipe is a culmination of many cheesecakes. And it is always on the menu in my home for Thanksgiving, so it's one of the desserts I'm making.
I like to make the cheesecake two days in advance like The Joy of Cooking recommends. I also cool it slowly with a large bowl inverted over it like The Joy of Cooking suggests. Baking in advance helps with the time crunch on Thanksgiving morning by not needing the oven or counter space to prep. The only problem is, it may be necessary in some families to hide the cheesecake until the big day. ;)
Now don't be intimidated. It's actually quite easy. The hardest part is the crust. So if that worries you, buy a preshaped graham cracker crust in a pie pan.
Here is the recipe. I like to do it with the variation (that's listed at the end).
Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 4 to 5 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1 /2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch (high-altitude 2 tablespoons)
5 to 6 ounces sour cream (2/3 of an 8-ounce container)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 to 3 ounces sour cream (1/3 of an 8-ounce package)
1/4 cup sugar (for topping)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (for topping)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (high-altitude 375 degrees).
2. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Melt butter or margarine and stir into dry ingredients. Press into 9- or 10-inch pie pan.
3. Cream the cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, cream of tartar, lemon juice, and cornstarch with electric mixer until smooth. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 2/3 carton of sour cream. Pour into crust.
4. While cake is cooking, beat remaining 1/3 carton sour cream with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.
5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake begins to set around edges. Remove cake from oven.
6. Gently spread sour cream/sugar mixture over top. Immediately return cake to oven for 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven.
7. Refrigerate 3 hours (minimum) before serving.
VARIATION (and especially when you top with pie filling): Put the whole 8 ounces of sour cream in the cake instead of mixing some for the top with extra sugar and vanilla. Bake about an extra 5 minutes.