Oops I Totally Forgot Cheesecake, or, Simple, Classic Cheesecake

Oops. I am just the worst, you guys. I forgot to post July's cheesecake of the month recipe. This is particularly alarming for me because I have SO MANY cheesecake recipes to get through that if I just run around skipping them all willy-nilly like this I am never going to get through all of them.

So here's the 6th cheesecake recipe I've tested for this blog. That means I've been doing this for almost 6 months, which is a pretty exciting feat in itself (but more on that later). This one made me nervous before I even started cooking it. For one thing, it's way more complicated than the last cheesecake recipe I made (my favourite one to date). And for another thing, Eleanor had written in the upper corner of the recipe card 'Emma's-- heavy cheese, real good.'* What does that even mean?

This recipe is dated from the 1940s, so this is one of her earliest recipes and definitely the earliest dated cheesecake recipe in the box... which is evident when you read the ingredients and the first one is 'pot cheese.' Judson and I have had a blast making hypothetical guesses about what pot cheese could actually refer to-- my favourite guess is that it's actually an abbreviation for 'potato cheese,' though the idea that it's marijuana-infused cheese did, of course, come up in conversation.

Another option for best accidental selfie I've ever taken.

Another option for best accidental selfie I've ever taken.

Luckily, my dad came to visit recently and was able to provide us with a good answer. In case you, too, are in the dark about this, pot cheese is a 'dry-curd' cottage cheese, usually distinguished from other cheeses because it has no added salt. Having never seen this at a Scottish grocer or cheesemonger, I asked my dad for comparable products and upon his advice, I decided to use ricotta, fearing that drained cottage cheese would prove too grainy and not smooth enough. Since this recipe includes a bit of flour to help soak up any excess moisture, ricotta seemed to be the best option, though next time I might try mascarpone mixed with drained cottage cheese, just to see how it works.

Like a lot of her favourite recipes in the box, the more she liked a recipe, the fewer details she included on how to make it. I guess this makes sense-- if you make a recipe all the time, you only need the basics and you'll surely remember the rest, but it definitely makes my job interesting to try to figure out her intent. There are no instructions for how to make this-- the only instructions say to strain the cheese 'and cream,' then there is a note to use the crust recipe from the Sunshine graham cracker box, which is helpfully also included in the box (or, at least, the Nabisco pie crust recipe is included, so I used that, with the obvious substitution of digestive biscuits for graham crackers). And also I got nervous about using 1 ½ pounds of cheese, so I cut the recipe in half. So pretty much I broke all of my own rules about making no substitutions and following the directions to the letter, but I think you'll agree it was both necessary and worth it.

*Upon further investigation, it is completely possible that the card actually reads 'Enormous-- Heavy cheese, real good.' If so, I guess it's a good thing I cut the recipe in half.

The verdict: 

3 spoons out of five. I somehow managed to overcook both the crust and the filling for this, but it was still tasty. Lightweight, sweet with just enough vanilla to be noticeable, and a great, creamy flavour. Had I not gotten ambitious and made it in a regular pie pan and not overcooked it, it would rank a lot higher. I still recommend it.  

the recipe:

Simple, Classic Cheesecake

The directions:
the crust:

Preheat oven to 190C/375F.
Pour crumbs and butter into a medium-sized bowl.
Add sugar and mix well with fork or pastry blender.
Pour into 9-inch pie shell and press down thoroughly, pushing mixture up the sides of the dish.
Bake 8 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

the filling:

Turn oven down to 180C/350F.
Cream together ricotta, sugar, flour, salt, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until light and foamy.
Add egg yolk and milk to egg whites and beat until well-mixed.
Add egg mixture to ricotta mixture and mix until smooth.
Pour into cooled pie shell and bake 45 minutes until just set.
Allow to cool in oven for an additional hour before moving to the refrigerator.

the ingredients:
the crust:

1 2/3 c graham cracker or digestive biscuit crumbs
¼ c sugar
¼ c butter, softened



the filling:

12 oz ricotta
½ c sugar
1 ½ tbs flour
1 pinch salt
½ tsp vanilla
1 egg, separated + 1 egg white
¼ c milk