In early December, my friend Kim called with a brilliant Christmas gift idea. She needed to borrow my springform pan to carry it off. Why? Because cream cheese was on sale for .59 cents a package! And because cheesecakes make such delectable gifts! With her springform pan and mine, she could save a lot of time baking two at a time. So we both stocked up on cream cheese and got busy!
But here’s the *brilliant* part. Kim and I both used totally different *base* cheesecake recipes and found that we could tweak the basic recipe by adding specific variations to the filling. This way we could bake 4 different cheesecakes, with our different add-ins, and be able to cut each one in fourths, producing cheesecake “samplers” to give away. In the end, I gave out several cheesecakes that were each divided into four options: Chocolate, Mini-chocolate chip, Raspberry Swirl, and Plain. Fun! And they looked so pretty in the professional cake boxes we got at the Cake Supply Store for .69 cents each. While you are there, they also have white cardboard cake circles for .39 cents apiece. Handy items, I highly recommend them!
This is a gift idea that can be given away fresh, or frozen, as cheesecakes do freeze very well. I opted to give mine away fresh, but told each recipient to stash it in the freezer if they wanted to save it for a later date.
I’m so kicking myself for forgetting to take pics! Here is the Cheesecake Factory recipe I used, with instructions on how to pull off the variations I mentioned above.
Added bonus–this Cheesecake Factory Filling recipe always makes enough for a test batch…so have a glass dish on hand (or another cheesecake pan!) and make a smallish cheesecake with the extra filling to keep for the family to try!
Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake Filling
Graham Cracker Crust: 2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs, 1 1/3 cups sugar, 1 stick melted butter—mix together, and press in bottom and up sides of 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 350*F for 10 minutes.
1 1/2 lbs cream cheese
1 1/3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
16 ounces sour cream
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1. All the filling ingredients should be at room temperature.
2. Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy with an electric mixer set on low (keep the setting at low during the entire mixing process).
3. Add the sugar a little at a time and continue beating until creamy.
4. Add one egg at a time and beat after each egg.
5. Add flour, vanilla and lemon juice, mix well.
6. Add the sour cream and beat well.
7. Pour cream cheese mixture into the springform crust-lined pan.
8. Place on the top rack in the middle of a 325 degrees preheated oven for one hour and 15 minutes.
9. When time is up turn oven off, prop open oven door and leave in oven for one hour.
10. Remove from oven and let cool then refrigerate for 24 hours.
Important tip : A cheesecake should season. The wait is worth it. The flavor ripens and becomes enriched.
Okay here’s what I did for variations on this theme:
- Chocolate Cheesecake–add 1/2-3/4 cup cocoa powder, or more to taste!
- Mini-Chocolate Chip Cheesecake–add the entire 12 oz package mini-chocolate chips to the filling!
- Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake–heat one cup raspberry preserves slightly, and add half of it to the filling. Pour the filling into the prepared crust, and then drop dollops of the preserves around on the filling. Swirl it in with a knife.
Bake for the same amount of time as you did for the plain cheesecake, and enjoy! We also made a Raspberry Swirl-Mini-Chocolate Chip cheesecake and it was just amazing. Ten thumbs up by the five people that live here!
Deborah Vogt’s Delicious Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
3- 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
In medium mixing bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs, coconut, sugar, baking cocoa. Add melted butter and mix well. Press onto the bottom and partially up the side of a 10-inch springform pan. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sugar, and then add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Fold in miniature chocolate chips. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes until center is nearly set. Turn off oven and allow cake to cool for an hour. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen. Let cool completely and then refrigerate overnight. 16 servings.