Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nana Ruby's extraordinary, stupendous, incredible, phenomenal cheesecake

Ok, so one bright, sunny day last December, DH and I were out Christhanukah shopping and popped into HomeGoods to look for a special-request gift for DD1. After a little shopping, I made my way over to join Alan, who was (yikes) holding a cheesecake pan.

With that cute, crooked smile he has, he looked at me and said in husband-speak, "Hey, Honey. I kinda thought you might want to get this just in case one day you might perhaps want to make a cheesecake maybe." Translation: "I'm going to get this pan so that you can learn to make my mother's extraordinary, stupendous, incredible, phenomenal cheesecake."

Alan proceeded to the long-line check-out; I (demurely) fainted.

Some minutes later, after the paramedics arrived and the smelling salts kicked in, I explained to them about my husband, the pan, and the impossible task of re-creating my mother-in-law's extraordinary, stupendous, incredible, phenomenal cheesecake. A few dozen sympathetic shoppers looked on as one of the paramedics shook his head and said, "Even I know better than to ask my wife to do something like my mother does." I let him know that his wife was one lucky woman, and I swear that had nothing to do with how much he looked like DiNozzo.

After the holidays passed, and life settled back into our routine, good fortune seemed to be on my side. For a few months, I was successful in skating the cheesecake issue. Alan can sometimes be prone to forget (wink, wink), and I was heavily praying this would be one of those times. I hid the much-maligned pan in the very back of the lower cabinet, and as April showers turned into May flowers, I was breathing thankful, but silent, sighs of relief.

Then, one day as I was ditching the ubiquitous Slice-O-Matic Onion Chopper (as seen on TV), I caught a glimpse of the Teflon rim of the cloistered spring-pan. I suddenly remembered how I had successfully met Alan's request for chopped liver ("like my mother's"). He raved about my creation, and even went so far as to roll his eyes heavenward and tell me it was even better than hers. At that point, I realized I wasn't .....well.....exactly chopped liver as they say, so why not give the cheesecake a try?

My mother-in-law happily passed along the recipe and I headed to the grocery. I washed and dried the dusty pan, walked in circles around my kitchen island for half an hour, and then began to nervously place the cream cheese and other ingredients in the mixer.

"Hey," I began to think as I scrapped the sides of the bowl. "This really is pretty easy." And I was oh, so, so happy to find that the ten minutes I spent trying to put the *&%# spring-pan back together really didn't hurt the consistency of the batter one little bit.

Just south of an hour later, I was doing the Snoopy Dance and loudly singing, "I made Nana's cheesecake" to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." It was a Kodak moment that I, and my dogs, will never forget.

That night, Alan ooh'ed and aah'ed as he scraped the dessert plate.

"Honey, you nailed it." (That's husband-speak for, "Darlin', I am so glad I married you!")

Now, it's your turn to make Nana Ruby's extraordinary, stupendous, incredible, phenomenal cheesecake. Get busy practicing your very own song and dance, and slide on over to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted 

3 large packages cream cheese - room temperature
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pint sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.

Press mixture into bottom of spring-pan. Set aside.

In mixer (or by hand), mix cream cheese until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg is added.

Add sugar and vanilla. Continue mixing until creamy. Pour onto crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Mix topping ingredients (sour cream, sugar, and vanilla) gently by hand.

 Spread topping onto cheesecake.

Return cake to oven and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.


Allow to cool at least one hour. I've never been able to resist a piece at this point, but the flavor is really enhanced when the cheesecake is served after being refrigerated overnight. Good luck with that.

Maybe next I'll conquer Nana Ruby's gefilte fish.



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