Tips For Baking Cheesecakes

To prevent cracking follow these quick mixing and baking hints:
***Soften cream cheese before mixing. 
To soften in microwave, place one unwrapped package in a microwaveable bowl. 
Microwave on high 15 seconds. Add 15 seconds for each additional package of cream cheese. 
***Don't overbeat. Beat on low speed after adding eggs, just until blended. 
***Gently stir in any flavorings ingredients { chocolate chips, fruits, etc } at the very end of mixing. 
***Bake in a moist oven. 
When preheating oven, place a 13x9 inch baking pan half filled with water on bottom rack of oven. 
Bake cheesecake on middle rack above pan of water. 
***Don't peek into oven during baking. 
***Don't overbake. When done, edges should be slightly puffed. The center area, about the size of a silver dollar, 
should still appear soft and moist. The center will firm upon cooling. 
***Cool cheesecake on wire rack at room temperature for 1 hour before refrigerating. 
***Refrigerate uncovered 3 to 4 hours or until completely chilled. 
Place a sheet of plastic wrap or foil across the top of the cheesecake; secure. 
Refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. 
***For best results, top or garnish cheesecake within 1 to 3 hours of serving, depending upon the stability of the topping. 
***To enhance flavor, remove cheesecake from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. 
***Prepare cheesecake as directed, omitting topping. 
Wrap securely in plastic wrap; over-wrap with foil. 
Place in a plastic bag, then label, date and seal. Freeze up to 2 months. 
***Thaw wrapped cheesecake in refrigerator overnight.
***Individual slices should be cut and wrapped before freezing. 
Thaw 1 slice in microwave on DEFROST ( 30 % power ) for 45 to 60 seconds. 
Let stand about 5 minutes before serving. 
Lean and Delicious: 
***Substitute Neufchatel Cheese, 1/3 less fat than cream cheese or Fat Free Cream Cheese 
for regular cream cheese in any of my recipes where noted. 
Creative Crusts 
Whether you are making a classic cheesecake in a springform pan or using a 3 step cheesecake, 
these creative crusts are sure to be a hit.
Graham Cracker Crust: 
Mix 1  1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine. 
Press onto bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate or bottom of springform pan. 
Pour cheesecake batter into unbaked crust. 
Spiced Graham Cracker Crust:
Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger. 
Nut Crust: 
Substitute 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, or macadamia nuts 
for 1/2 cup of the graham cracker crumbs. 
Vanilla Wafer Crust:
Substitute 1  1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs for graham cracker crumbs. 
Chocolate Cookie Crust: 
Omit sugar and reduce butter or margarine to 2 tablespoons. 
Substitute finely crushed chocolate sandwhich cookies for graham cracker crumbs. 
Sumptuous Sauces 
Serve your cheesecake with one of these deliciously easy sauces. 
Chocolate Orange Sauce 
Mix 1 cup chocolate ice cream topping and 1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur. 
Makes 8 to 12 servings. 
Southern Caramel Sauce 
Mix 1 cup caramel ice cream topping with 2 teaspoons bourbon or brandy.
Makes 8 to 12 servings. 
Strawberry Sauce Place 1 pkg ( 10 oz ) frozen strawberries, thawed, in a food processor or 
blender container fitted with steel bladed;cover. Process until smooth. Strain. 
Stir in 2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur or orange juice. 
Makes 8 to 12 servings. 
Crimson Raspberry Sauce Place 2 pks ( 10 oz each ) frozen raspberries, thawed in a heavy 2 quart saucepan. 
Bring to a boil. Boil over high heat, stirring frequently, 7 minutes. Strain. 
Stir in 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. 
For Creamy Raspberry Sauce, stir in 3 tablespoons whipping cream. 
Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Easy Steps Towards Success
For baked springform pan cheescakes, prepare crust by pressing crust ingredients into pan.
A mixture of graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter or margarine is the usual crust.

Beat Cream Cheese and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer. 
Add eggs , one at a time, mixing at low speed after each addition, just until blended. 
For flavored cheesecakes, blend in flavorings, such as melted chocolate shown here.

Using a spatula, pour cheesecake batter into prepared pan. 
Bake for minimum time given in a recipe or until center is almost set. 
Cool on a wire rack.

Immediately upon removal from oven, run a knife or a metal spatula around 
the edge of the cheesecake, pushing against side of pan, to loosen it from the side of the pan. 
Keep the springform fastener on the side of the pan locked and springform side on. 
Cool 1 hour at room temperature: refrigerate.

Loosen spring fastener. Lift rim of pan straight up to separate it from the cheesecake.

Place cheesecake on serving plate. Garnish as desired.