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Light up your Fourth of July table with a red, white and blue cheesecake

Amy Drew Thompson, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Entertaining

ORLANDO, Fla. -- I am a food writer first and a photographer second.

Actually, it’s probably more like a photographer forty-second.

But I’m trying.

Recipes like this one make it easier, though occasionally, I need help, and for this cheesecake’s close-up, that came in the form of my neighbor, Valerie, who occasionally dog sits but had never before been enlisted in any job-related ridiculousness until I asked her to light up this Red, White & Blue Cheesecake recipe from Food Network Kitchen.

Why I chose it was simple: Look at it! It’s like creamy, patriotic fireworks for your long-weekend holiday table. It’s only a small step up in difficulty from the last Independence Day delight I made (a fruity, creamy Fourth of July trifle). And its use of whipped cream cheese makes it a much lighter offering than the typical cheesecake and, therefore, better suited to Orlando’s summer weather.

Fruity add-ons, in this case, blueberries and strawberries, only serve to up the refreshment factor with their tart juiciness.

The recipe went according to plan — mostly.

First, I used regular, liquid food coloring because I couldn’t find a gel version. While I found that I had to use more than the recipe suggested to achieve the deep color I was looking for (less could perhaps work for a gender-reveal party cheesecake now that I think about it!), the additional color didn’t do anything to alter the flavor of the cake. It was lovely and light and vanilla-tinged.

The temps? Well, I think it is a typical home baker’s concern that’s covered by the old “know your oven” adage. My cake browned a little more than I might have wanted (and split in one spot). Had I watched it closely, I’d have gotten some foil over the top sooner. It set up nicely, though, and still looked mighty pretty on the plate.

It was the rainy-day natural lighting that lacked when it had cooled enough to photograph, and so Valerie came to the rescue, illuminating not only with her presence but her iPhone. We might celebrate independence on July 4, but it sure is nice to have good neighbors to lean on when you need them.

Also Amazon. For portable light-source shopping on the fly. I’ll be doing that as soon as this piece is filed.

Red, White & Blue Cheesecake

Recipe courtesy Food Network Kitchen (foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/red-white-and-blue-cheesecake-3672694)

You’ll need a 10-inch springform pan, as well as a wooden skewer or chopstick, for this recipe.

Ingredients

Crust

•2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 18 whole crackers)

•1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

•2 tablespoons sugar

 

•Pinch fine salt

Filling

•Three 11.5-ounce containers whipped cream cheese

•1 1/4 cups sugar

•One 16-ounce container sour cream, at room temperature

•1 cup heavy cream

•4 large eggs at room temperature

•1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•Juice of 1/2 lemon

•1 teaspoon red gel food coloring (or to desired color)

•1/2 teaspoon blue gel food coloring (or to desired color)

Instructions

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.

For the crust, toss together graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and salt in medium bowl. Press into bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool completely. Wrap up bottom and sides of pan with a large piece of foil and place in large roasting pan.

For the filling, beat together cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute. Add sour cream. Beat until just combined. Add heavy cream. Beat until just combined. Mix in the eggs by hand, one at a time. Mix in vanilla and lemon juice by hand, until just combined. (Take care not to overmix, or the cheesecake will become a soufflé!).Ladle out 2 cups of cheesecake batter and divide between two bowls. Color one bowl with red food coloring and one with blue food coloring. Leave the remaining batter white.

Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, drop scoopfuls of the batter onto the crust, alternating between the different colors until all the batter is gone. Use a long wooden skewer and drag it through the batter, making sure the skewer reaches down to the bottom of the pan, in 4 swipes, to marble the colors for a tie-dye effect. Transfer the springform pan to the roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan.

Bake until outside of the cake is set, but center is still slightly loose, about 1 hour, 20 minutes. Turn off oven and leave the cheesecake inside for another hour. Remove the cheesecake from roasting pan to cooling rack. Run a knife around the edge and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.

Unmold cheesecake. Transfer to a serving plate or cake stand.


 

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