'Lucky Cheesecake Number 7,' or, Thick-Crust, Airy Cheesecake

So here's the thing about all these cheesecakes: I can't get graham crackers in this country, so every single one that I've made so far has been... well, ersatz. I can't decide whether I like digestive biscuits or rich tea biscuits better as a substitute for graham crackers in these recipes, and either way, since most recipes list graham cracker crumb quantities in terms of the number of crackers from which the crumbs came ('24 graham crackers, crumbled'), it makes it difficult to even determine the quantities I should be using. This time around, I used digestive biscuits and used 15 of them instead of the recommended 30 graham crackers, and the crust was the best one I've ever made, and far thicker than any I've previously created. This could be because I was using digestives, which are super thick, or because the pan I used (from Ikea, measuring 6.75x10.5 inches) was too small for what the recipe actually wanted (all it says is 'low rectangular baking dish'), but either way, it was awesome and I recommend it. Chances are you don't have a pan with those weird measurements, but it's roughly the same as using an 8x8inch square pan, so just go with that, and use way more cookies than what seems logical, and you'll have the same delicious cookie crust as me.

 Eleanor is the one on the left.

Eleanor is the one on the left.

but I did discover something new about making an (admittedly ersatz) graham crust this time around: cookie crusts work so much better if you make them in a food processor. Previously, I had been grinding the biscuits in the food processor, then pouring melted butter over them and dumping them in the pie pan, hoping for the best. The problem with that method (although it was the method prescribed in most of the cheesecake recipes and also these bar cookie recipes) is that the crumbs stay very dry-- and though they come together later in the oven, spreading them evenly across the bottom and up the sides of a pan is incredibly difficult.

This recipe, though, has slightly more nebulous wording, which led me to, rightly or wrongly, add the melted butter into the food processor with the crumbs. (Alright, alright: it might also have been laziness. I had already had a negroni and it was at least 10pm on a school night when I decided to start this project, so I was trying to speed things along.) Anyway, watching it come together in the food processor was awesome, and I knew immediately I had stumbled across something great. Once it's done being mixed together, it forms sort of a paste that's completely evenly mixed, and thus super easy to press into a pie dish and up the sides of the pan. Best of all, it still comes out flaky, buttery, crumbly, and delicious after it's baked. Definitely try it next time you need a graham crust.

As always, this is a cheesecake best eaten with your friends. So make it for a party, or when there's a crisis afoot, or really anytime you're going to be hanging out with your besties. A little less impressive than a traditional springform cheesecake, it's still delicious and the stiffly-beaten egg whites give it a light, almost meringue-y texture that makes it better than the cream-cheese laden bricks that cheesecakes frequently turn into.

Note: the back of this recipe has a note scrawled in perfect penciled penmanship that reads 'wash roof Tri Sodium.' I think it's a code. Judson disagrees.

The verdict:

4 spoons out of five. Not easy enough to beat out the cheesecake that still holds my number one spot, but still tasty and with the best crust I've made in awhile.

The recipe:

Thick-Crust, Airy Cheesecake

the directions:

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
Grind the crackers to a fine powder in the food processor or blender.
Add melted butter and continue to blend until a thick, dry paste forms.
Pour crust into dish and press against bottom and sides until of uniform thickness.
Separate eggs and whip the whites until very stiff.
Set whites aside.
Mix cottage cheese in mixer until curds are broken up.
Add salt, lemon juice, sugar, and milk.
Beat until mixture is the consistency of thick cream.
Beat reserved egg yolks slightly with a fork, then add to cheese mixture with vanilla and mix to combine.
Pour beaten whites into cheese mixture and fold together gently with a spatula or the mixer on low.
(Mixture should be close to uniform consistency, with no large lumps of egg white).
Pour into crust, sprinkle additional crumbs on top, and bake one hour or until set and golden brown.
After cake is done baking, cool slowly in open oven or on countertop to avoid falling.
Once cool, place in refrigerator to thoroughly chill.

the ingredients:

15 digestive biscuits or 12-ish graham crackers (the whole rectangular ones) plus 1 additional biscuit, ground fine, for sprinkling on top
4 oz butter, melted
3 eggs, separated
2 c cottage cheese
pinch of salt
1 tsp lemon juice
¾ c sugar
½ c milk
1 tsp vanilla