Monday, May 17, 2010

Emilio's Cheesecake

My copy of American Desserts is beginning to fall apart. I guess that is a reminder that I've been working with this book seriously for a long time (and it's made a lot of trips!).
This cheesecake was the last Maida dessert I made in our second house in Pontlevoy; in the next entry, whenever that comes, I will post pictures of my new kitchen. It's definitely not as well equipped as the last one, and I'm not sure about oven temperatures and such, but I will manage. In fact, we have guests coming over Thursday. Sounds like a day for a prune-walnut layer cake...

But let's talk about this cheesecake. This is a different kind of cheesecake than the ones I’m used to. First of all, it’s baked in a 9x13-inch pan rather than a springform. It’s actually very easy to serve a cheesecake in this form. Also, it has a lot of cream and quite a bit of cornstarch in it, which makes it seem lighter. Someone asked me what made the cheesecake so light. I don’t think they wanted to hear that the answer was cream. And butter.

You may wonder what's up with the "pattern" of the cheesecake. The answer is that you need a very large bowl to fit all the cream cheese and cream and such. I did not. So I poured part of the mixture in the pan before I had added all of the cream, and then I added the rest of the cream to the remaining mixture and poured that in. I didn't notice any density difference in the finished product...

Another difference of this cheesecake is that there’s no crust. I don’t think any of Maida’s cheesecakes so far have had a traditional crust. Ah, but I see that the next one does. Something to look forward to…
But in the meantime, B+. I liked this, and it certainly disappeared very rapidly at the party we took it to (and that’s saying a lot, since this is a lot of cheesecake!), but I guess I like a dense cheesecake with a crust. And a sour cream topping. In short, I like the cheesecake my mom used to make from the 1970s Joy of Cooking. But if you’re looking for a light (well, “light”) cheesecake to feed a crowd, you could do worse than this recipe. Did I mention that it takes about 10 minutes to put together (if you’ve remembered to get the cream cheese and butter out of the fridge)?

Here’s the recipe. Be sure to make it the day before you want to serve it.

Emilio’s Cheesecake
2 lbs. cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz. butter, room temperature
1 T. vanilla
Grated rind of 1 lemon (not in the original recipe, but I liked it)
1-1/2 c. (10.5 oz.) sugar
7 T. (1.8 oz.) cornstarch
7 large eggs (Maida doesn’t specify, but room temperature is probably good here as well)
2 c. cream
1/4 c. lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

Heat the oven to 350. Get out a 13x9-inch pan and also a roasting pan big enough to hold it and some water. Put on a kettle to boil some water. Butter the smaller pan. In a large bowl (bigger than mine), beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, sugar, and cornstarch, and beat some more until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then add the cream on low speed. If your bowl isn’t big enough, you’ll have to be careful of splashing. Don’t ask me how I know. Finally add the lemon juice. The mixture should be thin and absolutely smooth. Put the buttered pan into the roasting pan, and then pour the cheesecake into the prepared pan. Put the pans in the oven and very carefully pour hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan. The water should come about an inch up the side of the pan. Now close the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. When that time is up, turn the oven up to 375 and bake the cheesecake for another 10-15 minutes. The cheesecake will be brown on top and quite puffy. Remove from the oven, and very carefully (wet potholders will burn your hands!!) remove the cheesecake pan from the larger pan. Let sit on the counter until cool. Then cover a large cutting board with parchment or foil. Invert the cheesecake onto the cutting board. If you buttered your pan well enough, it should drop right out. Cover the cheesecake loosely with plastic and refrigerate overnight. Serve plain or with berries—I put halved strawberries all over it, and that made it look and taste nice. This should serve at least 16.


  1. Personally, I thought it was simply fabulous -- but, then, I suspect I'm a bit biased; I think ALL of Maria's undertakings are fabulous. :-)

  2. The wife of my husband's boss once served THE BEST EVER, MOST DELICIOUS cheesecake--and I never even liked cheesecake! I asked for the recipe and after reading it I relized it couldn't possibly be the same. (Unlike me, she doesn't like to share recipes...) I researched several books with cheesecake recipes and found Maida's. I told myself--Bingo! And I was right: Emilio's Cheesecake was the right recipe! My recipe has 6 eggs, instead of 7, but I am not sure which of her books, since what I have is a scanned copy of a page saved in the computer... And I made mine with crust, just like I ate it, like regular cheesecake. DIVINE!!!!!!!

  3. I absolutely can't stand cheesecake. This is the ONLY one I eat and I love it with a passion. Everyone loves it and can't stop eating when I make it for my parties.