Sunday, February 7, 2010

Yum!















This spectacular cheesecake became part of my standard repertoire many years ago. It was often requested by customers and is still requested by family and friends. Once my father tasted this cheesecake, it was his birthday cake of choice! Bella asks for either this cheesecake or Upside Down Gingerbread for her birthday cake.

This is not a difficult cheesecake, but it does require planning and a little care. Here are some notes to insure success. Do not use low-fat cream cheese or sour cream, as it will result in an inferior cheesecake. The fat is essential to creating the proper texture. The gingersnaps are an essential component to the success of this cheesecake and must be a hard variety or the crust will be soggy. Do not substitute graham crackers. Although used often for cheesecake crust, graham crackers are an inferior choice as they tend to become mushy or soggy. Bosc pears are my pear of choice for this recipe due to their flavor and texture. Do not use overly ripe pears as they will not hold their shape during poaching. The texture of the pears is essential, so it is important not to overcook them. Watch the pears closely during poaching and cook until just tender. When preparing the filling, do not over beat as this will incorporate too much air and affect the texture of the cheesecake. Following these notes and the recipe below will assist you in successfully making Ginger Pear Cheesecake. Yum!

Ginger Pear Cheesecake

Crust:

10 oz. ginger snaps

6 oz. unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

3 Bosc pears

½ c. granulated sugar

2 c. cold water

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature

2 eggs, room temperature

2 tsp. ground ginger

10 oz. sour cream, room temperature

Garnish:

½ c. heavy cream

1 tsp. ground ginger

¼ c. crystallized ginger, diced

Select a deep 9” spring form pan. Butter and set aside. Preheat oven to 300.

In a 1-quart stainless steel pan, measure the sugar and the cold water. Place the pan on the stove and turn burner to medium. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Peel, core and thinly slice the pears. When the sugar is dissolved, add the prepared pears to the sugar water. If the sugar water does not cover the pears, add more water. Gently simmer the pears just until tender. When the pears are cooked remove them from the stove, carefully strain discarding the liquid.

While the pears are poaching prepare the crust. Place the gingersnaps in the work bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground. Pour the melted butter through the feed tube and pulse until mixed well. Remove the lid and finish mixing by hand if necessary. Scrape into the prepared pan and press evenly and firmly up the sides and over the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Place the sugar and cream cheese in a bowl and beat with a mixer until light and smooth. Beat in the eggs until combined. Add the ginger and the sour cream. Beat just until combined. Do not over beat.


Arrange the poached pears in the bottom of the prepared crust. Scrape the filling on top, spread evenly and smooth.

Bake in preheated oven for approximately 1 hour or until the filling is set. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely. When cooled, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, and preferably overnight.

Several hours before serving, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator and place on the counter. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes. Carefully run a thin sharp knife between the crust and the pan. If this does not happen easily, allow to sit a little while longer and try again. When this has been accomplished, remove the rim and prepare the whipped cream. Place the heavy cream in a bowl and whip to stiff peaks.

Using two teaspoons or a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, make dollops or rosettes around the inside edge of the crust and one in the middle. Place the ginger in a fine sieve and dust over the rosettes. Sprinkle the rosettes with the diced ginger. Return to the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

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