Every home cook remembers the first recipe that they have ever made. It is often inspired by their families, or gardens, or if you’re lucky like me…Mrs. Fields. Um, let me explain.
The first thing that I ever baked by myself was a white chocolate cheesecake. Divine. And impressive for a 10 year old. Why Mrs. Fields, though? The famous cookie lady? You see, there was no popular Food Network at that time, and cooking shows were not the first show of choice when my family was picking out something to watch. But I was always intrigued by her Saturday early morning show, Great American Desserts, and that day, I just got to the television before anyone else.
In the interest of full disclosure, it was not really the desserts that interested me. Everyone had walked by Mrs. Fields’ cookies at the malls, but I a) never knew that a “Mrs. Fields” actually existed, and b) thought that if there was actually a Mrs. Fields baking cookies, she would be an old, fat, lovable, grandma-looking woman. I was so intrigued by this young, attractive woman being so passionate about baking. It was always so fascinating to me that she was the Mrs. Fields.
For whatever reason, on that particular day, I felt motivated and chose to write down whatever she did. Then promptly announced to my family that I would be baking a white chocolate cheesecake that day. It was not the most beautiful baking event. I did not have a springform pan, nor did I know what one was. I also mixed the topping into the cheesecake batter because, quite frankly, I did not know any better. I also added a handful of stray white chocolate chips on top, because I thought that it would look pretty (it didn’t). But boy. What a cheesecake. It was the best thing ever.
This cheesecake became a Thanksgiving tradition in my family for years to come. Until I became more adventurous and confident in the kitchen. It lost its place on the menu for a pumpkin cheesecake one year, to a sweet potato gingersnap pie the next. There was also the year that I thought that we all needed to be on diets and I decided to make all of the pies with half of the sugar. We really missed the cheesecake that year.
But just last week, my cousin reminded me of this cheesecake and asked me to make it for him. I no longer had the recipe, but after some internet searching and digging, I found the exact one. Having made so many other yummy dessert recipes over the past several years, I did not think that I would be that impressed with this old recipe. But it was just as delicious as I remembered it, and I think that it may find itself on the Thanksgiving table once again.
Just so you know, my cousin appreciated the long lost cheesecake as well. And ate half of it in one sitting. ..Not recommended.
White Chocolate Cheesecake – directly from Mrs. Fields
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tbsp unsalted butter – melted
To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter, and process in a food processor until combined. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan in aluminum foil. Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Chill the crust.
18 ounces white chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 pound cream cheese – softened
1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sour cream
4 large eggs
1tbsp vanilla extract
To prepare the filling, melt the white chocolate with the cream over hot, not simmering, water. Set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 275F. Set a shallow baking pan filled with hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.
Set the cheesecake on the centre rack and bake for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to 250F and bake for 1 hour longer. Without opening the oven, turn off the heat but leave the cake in the over for 1 hour. Cool the cheesecake on a rack for 30 minutes.
White Chocolate Ganache:
8 ounces white chocolate – finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Meanwhile, make the ganache. Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and butter to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand, covered for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Let the ganache col to room temperature.
Pour the ganache over the cheesecake and spread it smooth. Cover the cheesecake and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
To unmold, wrap a hot wet towel around the pan, then remove the sides of the springform.