Fourth of July is one of those holidays that exists for grilling purposes and grilling purposes alone in my kitchen. I took over the kitchen at my Mom’s Significant Other’s house to make some delicious Grilled Red Snapper Tacos with a Grilled Corn + Cherry Tomato Salad to go with her world famous Guacamole. I wasn’t kidding about the whole grilling thing. We did a LOT of grilling.
I’m all about anything that requires cooking out of doors, especially when the weather is as great as it has been. I’m really really glad that nasty heat wave is finally behind us. (For now at least).
I was entrusted with bringing the fish and the dessert for the festivities and I don’t know about you, but when I think about traditional American desserts, I usually think of either pie or cheesecake. I’m pretty pie’d out after all the treats I’ve been making this week. The only other time that I’ve attempted the cheesecake was once when I was a teenager and obviously had no idea what I was doing. Somehow bits of the crumbly graham cracker crust floated to the top of the filling and make it look like it had a really bad case of acne. I was mortified. Luckily my Dad will eat anything that has the word “cake” in it, so it didn’t end up being a problem. This time around, I made a few adjustments to my recipe and it came out both tasting good and thankfully looking a WHOLE lot better – despite the Grand Canyon in the middle. I maintain it gives it a good dose of “character”.
for the crust:
- 15 graham crackers
- 1 egg
- 5 tbsp melted butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
for the filling:
- 32 oz cream cheese (4 8oz boxes)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup corn starch
for the toppings:
- mint sprigs
- edible flowers (optional)
Kitchen Tools: springform pan, food processor, stand mixer, non-stick spray, spatula
Preheat oven to 350*F. Let cream cheese sit out to get to room temp. Crumble graham crackers into food processor and pulse until they turn into a coarse dust. Pulse in the sugar and salt. Turn on food processor and slowly pour in melted butter. Add egg and pulse until combined. Spray springform pan with non-stick spray. Press graham cracker crust into bottom and about an inch up the side.
In your stand mixer (or by hand if you’re feeling brave) combine cream cheese and sugar. Whip until combined and not clumpy. Add Greek yogurt and vanilla extract and whip to combine. Add eggs, milk, and corn starch and stir on slow so that the corn starch doesn’t explode all over your kitchen. Keep mixing until your filling is smooth and has no clumps. You’ll know it’s ready when your friend starts eating the filling out of the bowl with her fingers.
Use the back of a spoon to make sure that your crust is pressed smoothly into the pan. Carefully pour filling into crust. Smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake cheesecake in oven for 1 hour. Turn oven off and let cheesecake cool in the oven for as long as you can (a few hours is best). Get creative and decorate the cake however you see fit. Maybe make it into a giant American flag? I’ll leave that up to you.
Tips + Tricks:
*Leaving the cheesecake in the oven keeps it from cracking. I skipped this part because I was pressed for time and let it cool on the counter before putting it in the fridge… which is why I’ve got a Grand Canyon in the middle of my cheesecake.
*Let your cheesecake cool fully before putting it in the fridge unless you want some spoiled lettuce and/or dairy products.
*If you’re storing your cheesecake overnight, make sure to cover it with saran wrap so that the top doesn’t dry out.