Weekly Feast: Blackberry Cheesecake (for my chicken friends and their fresh eggs)

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Confession….I am addicted to Facebook. Constantly online checking posts of friends and family and seeing how many likes and shares my posts are receiving. But more than that, I frequent a couple of backyard chicken keeping pages where newbies (I was one of these just 1 short year ago, and in many respects I still am) and seasoned veterans alike share photos, questions and advice with one another.

Just moments ago a question was posed about using our farm fresh eggs in cheesecake recipes. The poster’s cheesecake fell flat after coming out of the oven using her eggs and was wondering if that was the cause of the flop – sorry – not her flop, but the cheesecake’s flop.

With my 25+ year (has it really been that long??) culinary experience, I can offer this advice. It was not your eggs. Without knowing the exact recipe the poster used, I can only surmise that maybe it was a tad undercooked, or that it lacked some oomph from flour or cornstarch or other binding ingredient to help support the cheesecake structure as it baked and cooled.

My all time favorite cookbook is 23 years old. It’s been around almost as long as I’ve been cooking. I still refer to it every now and then, but I always go to it for this cheesecake recipe. I have modified it a smidge over the years to suit my preferences. This recipe has converted many people – including my husband who really dislikes anything made from cheese as a dessert item – to not only trying cheesecake again, but also asking for a second slice. I hope you like it too.

2 cups crushed graham crackers

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter – melted (no margarine please!)

Mix crumbs, sugar and butter in the bottom of a 10″ springform pan. Once combined, press crumbs firmly onto bottom of pan and 1″ up the sides. Set aside.

2 cups strained pureed blackberries (or blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or a combination of all your favorites)

I use frozen blackberries cooked with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. Once berries are soft and liquid, strain 3/4 of the berries through a fine mesh strainer – I like having a few of the seeds from the berries in the cheesecake – it lets people know it’s from real berries – but that’s just my preference. If the seeds bother you, by all means strain all the berries and feed the seeds to your chickens! ┬áReturn the strained berry mixture to the saucepan and bring just to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons cornstarch to 3 tablespoons cold water. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the bubbling mixture, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened. Cool to room temperature.

2 1/2 pounds cream cheese – softened (don’t go for the fat free or reduced fat variety – it’s dessert people!)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons corn starch

2 eggs (yes! use those eggs right from your chicken, or the eggs that have been sitting in your fridge for over a week. Both will make an equally delicious cheesecake)

Place cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch into the bowl of your mixer. Turn on lowest setting, scraping sides and mixing for 1-2 minutes. Turn up speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating between additions. Fold in berry puree.

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the crust and bake in a preheated 325F oven for 55 minutes. This recipe does not need a water bath. You do not need to leave it in the oven with the door cracked (assumably to preventing cracking – kind of ironic, isn’t it?). You can check if the cheesecake is done by gently touching the surface of the cake with your finger. It should be set but still slightly jiggly (think jello) when you shake the pan. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack until cooled. Refrigerate for 4 hours to completely chill and set the cheesecake.

This cake is lovely just as it is, but is extra special with a little sweetened whipped cream, or some extra berry puree (we call this coulis in the culinary world) drizzled over the top. If you bought fresh berries and a sprig of mint these are nice touches too.

As I said it was just moments ago that the question was asked about the fresh eggs. I’m craving cheesecake now but I am lacking a couple of the key ingredients – berries and cream cheese. I always have plenty of fresh eggs though!