See, Josh and I have recently joined the 21st century and got ourselves a couple of smartphones. Josh has been lusting after one for a quite a while now and I have been dragging my feet for many reasons, including the cost factor (these new phones add another 50% to our bill each month) and the connection factor (I don't like being accessible to everyone, all the time. I like to know that Josh can reach me and the kids' school can reach me, but other than that, eh. I don't need the constant checking of email and facebook and um, what else is there?)
But lo and behold, my old faithful cell phone died on me. The battery would not hold a charge any longer and I had the phone plugged in more often than I had it in my bag, which kind of makes it worse than a cordless phone and super-pointless.
Anyway, to make a very long story only slightly long, we had no choice but to get new phones and to upgrade. So we did and now we're here and now that we have these new phones, I find that I no longer sit down at the computer that often - and there ya go, the reason I have not been blogging. No computer, no bloggy. Simple.
I see that I have to make an effort to sit down and write, which is okay because nothing good comes without effort and I really do enjoy the fact that this blog will be something for my kids to look back on to jog their memories of a (hopefully) fun childhood.
So where am I going with this?
Shavuot begins tomorrow night and contrary to what Josh likes to make believe*, there really is a custom to eat dairy on Shavuot. Since I got totally lucky and got invited out for both Shavuot lunches, I kind of felt like I wasn't going to cook or bake that much for the two night meals - except my eldest came home from school, having learned about cheesecake. As far as I can tell, that was the big theme of the day - not the giving of the Torah, not the culmination of counting 49 days of the omer, just cheesecake. Not that I'm saying that the teacher is not doing a wonderful job, because she is and I am sure she hit on the all salient points of Shavuot, but all my kid heard was CHEESECAKE.
So here we are, needing a cheesecake.
And here I am, with one in the oven. And I have to tell you, (and I know this because I have made this cheesecake countless times), this is best dang cheesecake out there. No, really, it is. And if I ate dairy, I would keep it all for myself. But I don't, so I will let my kids have it. I know, I'm such a good mommy.
Here's my version of a Chocolate Chip Cheesecake - adapted from the very excellent baking cookbook called The Whimsical Bakehouse.
Grease the bottom of an 8" round pan. The pan should be fairly deep, so try for an 8"x3" round pan. Once the pan is greased, cut out a circle of parchment paper and lay it on the bottom of the pan.
2 cups of chocolate graham cracker crumbs (just fill a ziploc with graham crackers and have at it).
3/4 stick of melted butter
Mix the two together and press the mixture into the bottom of the pan, using any extra to build the crust up the sides of the pan.
Right about now would be a good time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3 bars of cream cheese - use the full fat kind, Shavuot only comes around once a year.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream or Rich's Whip
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Mix the first four ingredients together in a standing mixer, until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are fully mixed in. Pour the batter into the crust and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
Now here comes the tricky part. I mean, not that tricky, but man, I hate a water bath. I usually use an aluminum disposable roasting pan for this part because it's big enough and because I can throw it out afterwards. If you're using a real roasting pan, please make sure it's not one that you have used for meat because you know, that would be bad. Dairy or pareve pans only please!
Put the cheesecake pan inside the roasting pan and fill the roasting pan halfway with hot water (not boiling, just hot). Be sure to pour the water into the pan with a cup, it's not a good idea to hold the cheesecake filled roasting pan under the faucet; there's absolutely nothing good that can come from that.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the center of the cake appears firm. Some say that there's nothing worse than an undercooked cheesecake, but keeping in mind that I would eat the raw batter, happily, I'd say to err on the side of caution and take the cake out too soon rather than too late.
Now here's the annoying part - let the cheesecake cool on the counter for two hours. Two hours?! I know. So don't do what I just did and put it in the oven at 9pm because really, we're going to be sitting here all night. I feel like I might as well make challah now - except for the fact that there's a cheescake in the oven. Darn.
Oh well, maybe I'll just catch up on the many many weeks of missed The Good Wife episodes.
Oh, and once the cake is cool, run a knife around the edges and using a parchment covered plate, place it over the cheesecake, invert the cheesecake so its upside down and let the cheesecake come out of the pan onto the plate. Peel off the parchment paper that was inside the cake pan and is now stuck to the bottom of the cheesecake and immediately place another plate, preferably the serving plate over the bottom of the cheesecake and flip in again so that it is now right side up. Make sense? Good.
Look at your cheesecake and be proud, but don't eat it yet. Not cause it's not Shavuot but because by the time this process is done, it'll be one o'clock in the morning and there's that whole eating-in-the-middle-of-the-night-heartburn-thing. You can have some for breakfast instead.
*All fleishigs, all the time. It's a like a motto.