Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blueberry Cheesecake

        I like to play with my food. Some folks will call what I do "cooking," but that sounds like work and coming up with preparation alternatives to recipes is fun! For instance, take this blueberry cheesecake recipe. The one I found on line called for store-bought canned blueberries. I have blueberries in the freezer I want to use. The crust called for graham crackers. I didn't have any of those and have since read the ingredients in the ones from the store. When I make blueberry pie, I use tapioca, not cornstarch. So, I played.
Graham cracker crust.
        Without having to make the graham crackers, this is really a simple recipe, but since I didn’t have the crackers and my husband suggested, tongue in cheek, that I could make my own, that is what I did. The recipe I found is from Nancy Silverton’s book Pastries from the La Brea Bakery (Villard, 2000). The first time I read it through I found it kind of daunting, but it’s really the same as any other rolled and cut-out cookie recipe. The only change I made to ingredients is to substitute some of my homemade brown sugar to use along with light brown store-bought, but I altered the technique, choosing to mix by hand rather than using a food processor.

Graham Cracker recipe

2 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I used regular salt)
7 tablespoons unsalted butter (okay, so I lied. I changed this too, and used salted butter because that’s what I have on hand.)
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

The topping, mix and set aside:

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cinnamon sprinkled over cheese layer.
        In a large bowl mix the flour, brown sugar, salt and soda. Cut the butter into small pieces and use a pastry knife to cut it into the mixture until the mixture looks like a course meal.
        In a small bowl, whisk together honey, milk, and vanilla. Stir this into the flour mixture. Turn the soft, sticky dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat it into a rectangle about an inch thick. Wrap it in plastic and chill for two hours or overnight.
        Work with half the dough at a time, keeping the second half refrigerated until needed. Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness on a floured surface. Trim the edges to make a rectangle 4 ½ inches wide. Cut the dough at 4 ½ inch intervals. Move the crackers to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with the topping. Repeat with the second half and with the trimmings. Chill for 30 to 45 minutes. Cut part way through the crackers down the middle. Use a toothpick to prick the dough at ½ inch intervals in two rows on each side of this cut.
       Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees until the crackers are browned and slightly firm to the touch. Rotate the sheets halfway through baking for even cooking. (The recipe I copied says to bake for 25 minutes. This may be a printing error. It was much too long. I’m only made this once so far, but 15 minutes sounds more reasonable. Watch yours closely to prevent overcooking!)
       Makes about 10 4-1/4 squares.

Blueberry Cheesecake

Crust: 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
           1/4 cup sugar
            ½ cup butter, softened

Cheesecake:  2 eggs
                      ½ cups sugar
                      1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
                      1 teaspoon vanilla
                      Ground cinnamon

Topping:       1/4 cup tapioca (original recipe: 2 T cornstarch)
                      ½ cup sugar            
                      4 cups frozen blueberries (or a 15 oz can from the store)
                      2 tablespoons lemon juice
The finished cheesecake on its way to being gone!
                      Sweetened whipped cream (optional, apply at serving time)
         Mix topping ingredients and press evenly in bottom of ungreased 9 x 9 x 2 pan. (I used an 8x8.
        Beat eggs until thick and light-colored. Beat in ½ cup sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth. Pour over crust and bake 30 minutes at 300 degrees. Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over top. Cool completely before adding berry topping.
        Mix the blueberries (frozen or thawed) with sugar, tapioca and lemon juice in a saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring often until the juices flow. Bring to boil and boil gently for about five minutes. Cool. Pour over cheese mixture and return to refrigerator to cool completely. 9 to 12 servings.
        The original directions say to chill for at least 8 hours. I take this to mean the cheesecake portion, not the finished dessert after the addition of the blueberries.
       In playing, I can make an otherwise simple recipe complicated. If you prefer simple, open a 21 oz can of blueberry pie filling and stir in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, heat and pour over the cheese layer. If you prefer cornstarch with frozen berries, you may have to mix it with water and heat it before adding the blueberries.
       In my opinion this was worth the extra effort, and it all started when I asked my oldest grandson what dessert he would like if he could have anything he wanted. Answer? A huge blueberry cheesecake.


  1. Did you use instant tapioca or tapioca cooked from tapioca pearls?

    1. I thought I'd used pearls since I so rarely use instant anything, but I checked and it's minute tapioca. With pearls you'd have to cook the blueberries so long that they would have a jam-like consistency, which would still taste great but perhaps not be as esthetically pleasing.

  2. My family loooves cheesecake...I like this recipe made in the bigger pan. I am a mom of 4 boys and this would seem to stretch a lot more then the typical Chinese cake it!

  3. This sounds so yummy! Mr. Wild & I love cheesecake, so we are going to have to make yours, thank you for sharing it!