To give you an idea of what my queue is like, I made these for Easter.
When I was gearing up to get cooking, the pan I wanted to use was dirty. So, rather than doing something hideously rational like washing the pan, I changed the recipe.
- graham crackers
- 3 packages cream cheese
- 3 eggs
- lemon juice
- half a stick of butter
Also very important to this process is having a hand mixer and a ridiculously huge bowl, or a stand mixer. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to combine all this by hand.
Start off by grating the ginger! If you’ve got one of those four-sided standing graters, you want the side with the smallest holes. Actually, honestly, if you’ve got dried ginger, you can probably just use a couple tablespoons of that, but sometimes in the grocery store I get fuzzy ideas about organic and fresh and stuff and end up with ingredients I then have to find uses for. Anyway, when you’ve shredded a couple tablespoons of ginger – or more if you want it, a couple tablespoons makes for a mild but noticeable taste – chuck that in the bowl you’re using for everything. If you’re like me, it took like half an episode of something to get all of it shredded. But not everyone has weak hands that give up in the face of grating!
So, next step, your crust. You are making graham cracker crust to fill a 9×13 pan. The graham crackers you get from the store, where each box has two of those little bags of like 8 graham crackers in it? Those are the ones you want, because then you can beat the hell out of one of those little bags and get all your crumbs and none of the mess. Rip open the bag and throw the mangled remains of the graham crackers in the pan. Shake the pan to spread them out, then use your fingers.
Now melt half a stick of butter in the microwave. 30 seconds, then letting it sit for a minute, then another 30 seconds should do it. Drizzle all of that over the graham cracker crumbs. Smush everything down so it’s vaguely crust-like.
Next up: filling. You want to start softening the cream cheese one block at a time, again in like 30 second increments in the microwave. What I also like to do is use the same dish I used for the butter, because the remaining grease means the cream cheese won’t stick too badly. While the cream cheese is softening, add a couple cups of sugar (how much or how little is going to depend on your target audience), a splash of vanilla, a shake or two of salt, and a couple generous splashes of lemon juice.
Add the cream cheese one block at a time, creaming it in between blocks. It should end up fairly creamy and not stick too badly to the mixer. If it’s clumping up a lot, add more lemon juice. Lemon is pretty popular, so don’t worry too much about overdoing it. When all of the cream cheese is mixed in, start preheating the oven to 350°F.
My oven preheats pretty fast and I can take a while trying to get everything the right consistency, which is why I wait this long: if you’re faster or more decisive, you can start earlier.
Since you’ve combined everything but the eggs, try the cheesecake now for taste. Add more sugar/lemon/ginger as needed. Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing until smooth between each egg. It should now all pour easily. Pour it on top of your crust, using a spatula to scrape everything out and also to make sure the filling ends up at the edges.
Toss that in the oven for like 50 minutes? Then let cool completely. It will rise worryingly in the middle, and then maybe settle with some kind of ridge where the bubble used to be. There are, I think, two ways to deal with this: keep an eye on the cheesecake and stab it with a fork when it starts to rise, or present it to your entire family still in the pan and with the less than aesthetically perfect surface, because you made cheesecake and it’s delicious no matter what it looks like.