If you’ve procrastinated this far and are scrambling for a Valentine’s Day gift, you can’t go wrong with dessert! In the Finger Lakes region, the dessert that only comes second to the sort-of seasonal grape pie, is good ‘ol New York State cheesecake!
While I personally don’t know anyone who would snub their nose at store-bought, this homemade cherry cheesecake (adapted from smittenkitchen.com) isn’t terribly difficult and at least doubles the sentiment level. It’s even got a little bit of red to match the occasion.
About 15 crushed graham crackers
1 stick of unsalted, melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Stir together crust ingredients and press tightly onto bottom and up the sides, stopping about an inch from the rim of a greased springform pan (and don’t think you can get away with a standard cake pan- the springform makes ALL the difference).
5 packages cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, whole
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beat together cream cheese, sugar, flour with an electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla, then eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated.
Pour filling into crust (the pan will be completely full) and bake for 12 minutes (or until puffed). If your oven browns the top too fast, turn the oven down as soon as you catch it. Reduce the temperature to 200 degrees and continue baking until cake is mostly firm for about one hour more.
When the hour is up, you’ll get the best results (meaning no cracked tops) if you then simply turn the heat off and let the cheesecake cool down along with the oven. This can take another hour or so.
Then, run a knife around the top edge of the cake to loosen it and cool the cake completely, still in the pan for about 6 hours.
10 ounces sweet cherries, pitted (you can use frozen!)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Place all ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.
Once it is boiling, cook it for only one to two minutes more, then remove from heat. Cool completely.
Remove the side of the springform pan, and transfer cake to a plate.
Spread topping over the chilled cheesecake and enjoy!
Story and photo by Halie Solea