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Ah, cheesecake! What can compare in taste, texture, and just plain sinful richness? Some people prefer their cheesecake plain; some like it marbled with chocolate. But most people seem to like it topped with fruit, which teams perfectly with the cake: the fruit's tart flavor is a great foil for the smooth sweetness of the cream cheese filling.
Don't take the time to prepare your favorite cheesecake, then top it with gloppy canned pie filling. That might be your only option in the winter, but at this time of year -- heresy! Fresh blueberries, strawberries or peaches are all good toppers for cheesecake. Place fruit decoratively atop cake after baking, then anchor with a simple fruit glaze made from jelly or jam.
The following cake is a specialty of Betty McKearney of Vincentown, N.J. Betty foregoes the usual graham cracker crumb crust in favor of a buttery flour crust, and her rich cheese filling takes a full pound and a half of cream cheese. This cake is not for the faint-hearted!
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons (2 5/8 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) lemon juice
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vanilla
3 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 quart blueberries or strawberries, or 2 cups sliced peaches, drained
1 cup (12 ounces) currant jelly (blueberries or strawberries), or apple jelly (peaches)
For the crust: Beat the butter, eggs, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the flour, stirring to blend. Press this mixture into bottom, and partway up sides, of a 9 x 13-inch pan.
For the filling: Cream together the cream cheese and sugar, until no lumps remain. Beat in the eggs, one at a time; stop to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl after each addition. Stir in lemon juice, vanilla and flour. Pour into prepared crust.
Bake cheesecake in a preheated 325°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes. The edge of the cake will be set 1 1/2 inches from the edge of the pan; the middle of the cake should still be wobbly. Remove from the oven (the center will continue to cook through as it rests) and let cool to room temperature.
For the topping: Arrange the fruit in a single layer on top of cooled cheesecake. Stir jelly in a small saucepan over medium heat until liquefied. Drizzle the melted jelly over the berries, or brush over peach slices. Refrigerate the cheesecake until ready to serve.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. II, No. 8, August 1991 issue.