Above the photo is of my mother during a picnic in 1954. She told me she was pregnant with me and wasn’t feeling well.
To the left is my mother in 1928. She was four. This was taken at their home on Randolph St. In Waterloo, Iowa.
The photo on the right is of my father at about the same age. He was in South Africa. He and his baby sister, and his parents moved to San Antonio, TX when he was seven.
If you’re like me you have a favorite dessert, perhaps two or three favorites. The world is awash with desserts to tempt the most austere soul. I have two favorites and I’ll cook one of them for you today. My two most favorite desserts are bread pudding and cheesecake. I wonder what your favorites are. Could you share in the comments?
There are two definitions for cheesecake. One is a cake made from sweetened cream cheese and eggs and baked in a crumb crust. The other is a photograph of an attractive woman in minimal attire.
While my mother was a very modest, shy woman who loved to be around people, starting a conversation made her uncomfortable. My father, on the other hand, could engage the most sincere wallflower in conversation, and that’s apparently how things happened for them. Until the end of his life, he did business by inviting people to share a cup of coffee. He loved my mother and every bit of her cooking.
But while we’re on the subject I thought I would share my mother’s cheesecake pose. This is about 1942, in Dunkerton, Iowa.
On to the recipe for today.
Crust ingredients are: 3/4 cup butter, softened or melted; 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar; 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, or approx. 24 crushed crackers. Mix together until it is crumbly.
Press into a 9″ spring-form pan. (mine has a glass bottom). The butter should hold it together nicely. Do not bake it yet. Wait for the creamy middle!
I should add that this recipe is written on my mother’s USAAA notepad I remember she kept at work. (She worked as my dad’s office manager. He had a car damage appraisal company.)
The creamy middle is made from: 2 pkg. cream cheese. (She always used Philadelphia cream cheese. She was a stickler for some brands. Woe the day the A & P store closed!
1 cup white sugar; 4 eggs; 1 teaspoon vanilla.
The topping is: 1 pint sour cream; and 3/4 cups white sugar. Note: at the bottom of the recipe my mother made a note to put the topping on before baking. I did and immediately saw my mistake. Don’t do it! Put it on the top of the cooked cheesecake.
Mix the filling for 20 to 25 minutes with an electric mixer at medium speed.
Don’t do like I did years ago when I tried to double the recipe for my daughter’s tenth birthday. I intended to make a large enough cheesecake for two or three families at once. As I mixed it with my ancient stand mixer on HIGH, the motor burnt up. The cheesecake carried an overtone of burnt engine oil. Don’t ever overload an old mixer. Do use a heavy duty mixer if you have one. I don’t any longer, but I have a good hand-held one. These ingredients need to blend together in a heavenly creaminess.
Pour the creamy filling onto the crumb crust. Bake at 325 for 40 minutes. I started out with the timer at 40 minutes but I had mistakenly added the sour cream to the filling, and it was far creamier than the usual. It needs to be slightly brown on top and pulling away from the sides of the pan a bit. So this took about 70 minutes all together for me. I think because the sour cream in the batter didn’t allow it to set as fast.
As you can see the sour cream didn’t hurt too much being inside the cake instead of on the top. You can also see this is nothing like a New York style cheesecake from the frozen foods section of the grocery. The taste is unbelievably vanilla-like and creamy, mixed with the butter-graham flavor of the crust… Yum!