I have made my brown-sugar-cheesecake three times by now (this being my third, my first being the pecan-pie cheesecake) and I am proud to say I am the official-brown-sugar-cheesecake-master. I can make graham cracker crusts in seconds flat and I can mix cream cheese with effortless ease. It really is remarkable how I stumbled across this little gem, but I sure am thankful. My parents as well, were thankful I learned how to bake/cook since the last time I saw them. Being that today was my first real day at their house (since I arrived last night from my grandmother's), I wanted to show them my new baking skills. What other fool-proof way to impress the 'rents other than my famous cheesecake?
My crumbled graham crackers are never precisely measured, but I tend to stop right around the 2 cup mark.
The graham crackers get mixed with butter and brown sugar, then patted into the spring form pan to bake for a few minutes.
I can never get the cream cheese at room temperature- I'm afraid of leaving it on the counter too long, and I'm afraid cold cream cheese won't mix thoroughly. This is why I usually cut them into little cubes and nuke them for a few seconds. Finally, the consistency that I want.
And now where the brown-sugar-cheesecake gets its name - the brown sugar.
The brown sugar opposed to regular sugar gives it just enough sweetness without having to add chocolate or other flavorings. The most common compliment I get on this cheesecake is that it "is not too sweet".
Once mixing the brown sugar and the cream cheese, the batter begins to have this light brown tint to it which I love- Almost signifying to the unfamiliar-cheesecake-eater that this cheesecake is different.
Oh- and yes, that utensil here- it is a rice paddle. I couldn't find my mom's spatulas (as I am new to her new house) so the rice paddle had to do for the time being.
Eggs are the next important factor in this cheesecake (as well as most cheesecakes) as it acts as the binding factor for it all. Luckily for me, my parents are into this whole "locally-grown" / "organic" crap- so here are organic brown eggs making their appearance in my cheesecake (which I guess I can officially call a partially organic cheesecake).
Heavy cream (also organic) adds the lightness and liquid-ness needed for the perfect cheesecake texture. What also helps in cheesecake (or at least I think so) is a recipe that includes a tablespoon or so of flour. For some reason that little amount helps with the perfect consistency. (And yes, the flour was organic too.)
The final mixture then gets poured into the spring form pan and baked for an hour. On the right is the cheesecake after the final hour. A lot of recipes warn of opening the oven door because it can cause crackage- and since I'm not using a water bath, I have to be as careful as possible. See how high the cheesecake has risen- well it will soon sink dramatically once I take it out of the oven, thus possibly causing cracks.
Just what I expected- cracks. For some reason, this cheesecake cracks every time, regardless how I make it or how I cool it down. I guess there had to be a flaw in this recipe somehow, because it for sure was not in the taste department. Anyways, I usually slather whipped cream over the top to cover my cracks; but since this was for my parents, I thought I'd just leave it visible. (I figured I'd impress them with the delicious-ness instead.)
Even though there were huge craters down the center of the cheesecake, and even though the graham cracker crust began to fall apart (because I cut the knife too deep), my parents absolutely loved it.
What they were really impressed with was how I learned how to bake (and actually enjoy baking) dramatically since the last time I saw them.
The comments I got were "it was the perfect mixture of light and dense" and "it was the perfect amount of sweet- not too sweet but just enough"... So basically it was just perfect.
My version (original recipe derived from Taste of Home, recipe found here)
2 cups (about) graham crackers crumbs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine crumbs and brown sugar. Stir in melted butter. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9" spring form pan.
2. Bake for around 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1+1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons AP flour
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
2. With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Add brown sugar and flour and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Stir in cream and vanilla. Pour into pan.
3. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in oven with the door closed for 1 hour.
4. Remove from oven and run a knife along the outside edges to loosen cheesecake from sides of pan. Let cool. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.