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Cook's Corner

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Diana Parker | The Journal Gazette
Connie Sprunger of Berne makes cheesecakes such as white chocolate raspberry and mini turtle.

Berne baker all about cheesecake

It was about 10 years ago when Connie Sprunger of Berne decided to try her hand at making a cheesecake.

“My sister and I were in Chicago. We went to the Cheesecake Factory, and that first bite was heaven. Everyone said they were hard to make but they aren’t. There are tricks to them. When I came home I started experimenting. Some were flops and some weren’t,” says Sprunger, an office manager at Purdue Cooperative Extension Service of Adams County in Decatur.

Sprunger says she bakes cheesecakes only for close friends and family. She made cheesecakes for the wedding receptions of daughters Kristina Dudgeon, 29, and Jennifer Gilbert, 26.

Cheesecake has become her signature dessert, says Sprunger, 57. For daughter Jennifer’s wedding, she made 24 cheesecakes as well as the wedding cake. Her youngest daughter, Allison, 22, plans to marry in September.

“One thing you need to know about cheesecakes is that all your ingredients need to be at room temperature, including your eggs. The eggs you can put into warm water while you’re mixing a cheesecake to get them at room temperature,” she says. “Eggs have to be added one at a time with a wire whisk, not a mixer. (Also) you want equal eggs to every eight ounces of cream cheese.”

Sprunger also warns about not using certain low-fat products.

“Some people want to use low-fat cream cheese; no, it doesn’t work. Just take a smaller piece (to eat). Low-fat cream cheese clumps to your beaters and makes a heavy cheesecake,” she says.

Baking the cheesecake in a hot-water bath is something else Sprunger suggests.

“I use foil and make a nest and get a larger pan with water and put the cheesecake pan in the water bath. Keeps them from drying out,” she says.

Finally, Sprunger says to know how your oven bakes and that when a cheesecake is shiny on top, it’s probably done.

“A cheesecake is done before it sets,” she states.

Sprunger says that even if you follow all the directions and the cheesecake doesn’t turn out as expected, don’t worry about it.

She says, “With cheesecake, even if it’s a flop, people will eat it because people love them. They’re fun. Enjoy. Your family will enjoy them, too.”

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Crust:

1 1/2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs, crushed fine

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 ounces white chocolate, melted, plus more for garnish

1 cup sour cream

3 eggs (room temperature)

Glaze:

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons of Clear Jel (Clear Jel is a modified form of corn starch)

3 tablespoons raspberry gelatin

Fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix crumbs and sugar in food processor. Blend until well blended. Add butter and blend well. Press mixture firmly onto bottom of greased 8 1/2 - or 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.

Using electric mixer, beat cheese in large bowl until smooth. Mix in sugar, flour and vanilla. Blend in white chocolate and sour cream. Add eggs one at a time. Eggs should be folded in by hand. Pour filling over crust. Bake in a hot-water bath until cheesecake is firm around edges but still moves slightly in center. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Cool completely.

In a large saucepan, mix together sugar and Clear Jel. Add water, stirring until sugar is mixed; bring to boil, cooking until thickened. Add raspberry gelatin. Set aside to cool. When cheesecake and glaze are cooled, top cake with about 1/2 cup of glaze. Add raspberries and top with remaining glaze. Drizzle top of cheesecake with melted white chocolate. Makes 12 servings.

Mini Turtle Cheesecake

Crust:

3/4 cup chocolate wafers, finely crushed (if using sandwich cookies, scrape out centers)

1 1/2 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, (room temperature)

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup sour cream

1 egg (room temperature)

Topping:

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

10 caramels

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon butter

1 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend crumbs and sugar in food processor until well blended. Add butter and blend well. Press 1 heaping teaspoon of crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of each greased mini cheesecake pan. Bake 5 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.

Mix together cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla and sour cream on low speed. Be careful not to overbeat. Add egg, folded in by hand. Pour cream cheese mixture evenly among the 12 mini cheesecakes. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Place chopped pecans on cooled mini cheesecake. Melt caramels and 1/4 cup milk in microwave or on top of stove on low heat. Melt together chocolate chips, butter and 1 tablespoons of milk. Drizzle chocolate and caramel over top of pecans. Cool about 2 hours before serving. Makes 12 servings.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-0088; fax 461-8648; or email dparker@jg.net.

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