Saturday, January 1, 2011

Simple Cheesecake

I like to make the crust with a sweetened cocoa rice cereal, but you can use any type you like (or have on hand) for your crust, just check labels to make sure there is no cornstarch.  Vanilla powder can be found in specialty cooking stores or online and is used to avoid the alcohol in extracts which often times contain yeast.  It can be replaced with vanilla bean paste or “safe” vanilla extract made without ethyl alcohol.
If you wish to cut the recipe in half for a mini cheesecake, use a 6-7 inch springform and lower baking time to  about 30 minutes.  (see information on safe products here)

4 cups rice cereal (any safe type/flavor)
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of  salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
1 cup sugar

In a processor, grind together rice cereal, sugar and salt into a fine crumb.
Slowly drizzle in melted butter while mixture continues to blend.
Press crust mixture neatly onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 9 inch spring form pan.

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer or processor until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, until fully incorporated.
Scrape down sides of bowl .
Add  vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until ingredients are incorporated and no lumps remain.
Pour filling into crust and bake on baking pan (to prevent catastrophic overflow events) in middle of oven.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.
Cool on a rack, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serves 8-12

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