From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If men climb mountains because they're there, is it fair to say that cooks try new recipes for the same reason? I suspect so. You all know I have a special weakness for cheesecake. It's been featured here over a dozen times and I'm still not ready to let it rest. When the recipe for this one appeared on my radar, my curiosity was piqued. I've used a slow cooker for many things, but never dreamed of using it to make a real dessert. This cheesecake sounded like a perfect dish with which to begin my experiments. The recipe was developed by Beth Hensberger for Food and Wine magazine. Beth creates wonderful recipes and the magazine keeps me current and connected to the cooking mainstream, so I knew the recipe would, at the very least, be sound. The cheesecake looked delicious and a quick scan of the ingredient list confirmed just how easy it would be to make. I decided to use low-fat dairy products in the cake, and, because too much of it can be harsh, I cut the quantity of almond extract in half. I replaced the missing portion with a teaspoon of good vanilla. The recipe featured below does not reflect the changes that I made. I was pleasantly surprised by this cheesecake. While the top of the cake forms a caldera, it can be filled with berries and the finished product is quite attractive and guest-worthy. I know that those of you who try this recipe will be really pleased with the results. Its size makes it perfect for today's smaller families and the use of low-fat dairy products keeps calories reasonably under control. I hope you, too, will give this cheesecake a try. Here's how it is made.
Crock-Pot Cheesecake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Beth Hensberger and Food and Wine Magazine
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup sour cream
1) Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Press crumbs over the bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 6-inch springform pan that's 3 inches deep. I used an 8-inch springform pan.
2) In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, combine cream cheese, flour, remaining 2/3 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Beat at medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl, add eggs and almond extract. I used a combination of 1/2 teaspoon almond and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat at medium speed until blended. Add sour cream and beat until smooth. Pour batter into springform pan.
3) Fill a 6- to 7-quart round or oval slow cooker with 1/2 inch of water and position a rack in bottom. I used boiling water and jury rigged a rack with wads of aluminum foil. Set cheesecake on rack. Cover slow cooker with a triple layer of paper towels, then cover towels with lid. Turn cooker to high and cook for 2 hours without peeking. DO NOT PEEK. Turn off heat and let stand until slow cooker has cooled, 1 hour.
4) Remove lid and paper towels and transfer cheesecake to a rack to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours.
5) Heat a sharp, thin-bladed knife under hot water; dry knife. Carefully run the knife around edge of the cheesecake. Release the spring and lift cheesecake out of the mold. Cut into wedges and serve decorated with berries, if desired. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
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