Saturday, April 7, 2012

Key Lime Cheesecake

Yesterday I wandered around the grocery store waiting for inspiration to jump out and grab me. It had been an unexpectantly emotional morning, and I had an urge to cook/bake but no idea what to make. After I'd circled the produce section three times and been asked by two different employees if I needed any help finding something, I laid eyes on a one pound bag of key limes. I briefly considered finding the pre-squeezed juice, but opted to learn whether squeezing my own would be worth it. (Answer: A resounding "No!" I had to squeeze all twenty-one key limes to yield 2/3 cup of juice.)

I also purchased nine regular limes to test whether there was much of a difference between regular limes and key limes, figuring I could use this juice to make delicious margaritas later that night. (Answer: My palate tasted a negligible difference between the two, with key limes being a bit more bitter.) I then headed over to the dairy section to get both cream cheese and sour cream so that I could try to make a Key Lime Cheesecake. I couldn't find a recipe that combined a cheesecake with a traditional key lime pie, so I put this one together. I was a bit worried it wouldn't turn out well, but it was a big success!

Key Lime Cheesecake
Kelley Gondring

Preheat oven 500º

In a food processor, combine:
1 2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 scant cup sugar
8 tablespoons melted butter

Pulse together until all ingredients are incorporated. Scrape down the sides and pulse an additional ten seconds. Pour into a lightly greased 9" springform pan. Spread crumbs evenly across the bottom, using your fingers to firmly pack. Place in refrigerator.

Custard Filling
In a large electric mixing bowl, add:
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 8 ounce packages reduced fat cream cheese, softened

Using the paddle attachment, mix at moderate speed for thirty seconds.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add:
10 ounces sweetened condensed milk
Mix 1 1/2 minutes so that the ingredients are smooth and creamy.

One at a time, add:
4 egg yolks
Scrape down sides of bowl after each addition.

After the last egg yolk addition, keep the mixer on low while slowly adding:
2/3 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
Mix until just incorporated.

Immediately pour into the springform pan.

Bake at 500º for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 200º and bake for 45 minutes. Cover loosely with a piece of aluminum foil to keep the top from getting too brown.

While the cheesecake is cooking, make sour cream topping.

In a small bowl, combine:
8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
splash of vanilla

[If you would like a thicker topping, double this portion of the recipe.]

After cheesecake has cooked 35 minutes, remove from the oven and evenly spread the sour cream mixture over top of the cheesecake. Place back in the oven for the final 10 minutes.

Turn off the oven and use a wooden spoon to hold the oven door ajar. Let the cheesecake sit for 30 minutes (I actually left it in the oven for a little over an hour while we went to dinner, and it was fine). Remove from the oven and let cool completely before refrigerating.

Garnish with lime wedges and zest.

Eat up!

"I cook because eating has always been my most reliable way of understanding the world. I cook because I am always, always hungry. And I cook for that oldest of reasons: to banish loneliness, homesickness, the persistent feeling that I don't belong in a place. If you can conjure something of substance from the flux of your life - if you can anchor yourself in the earth . . . you are at home in the world, at least for that meal." -Annia Ciezadlo, Day of Honey

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