Wolfgang's Classic Spago Cheesecake
Treat Your Family to a Creamy Concoction
With the cool weather setting in, Wolfgang Puck thought he'd shake the chill off with a retro dish reminiscent of grandma. He finished off a classic dinner with an awe-inspiring dessert: Classic Spago Cheesecake from his new book, "Live, Love, Eat."
Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or coat with nonstick spray, the bottom of a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan.
In a large bowl, assemble all the ingredients for the Butter Crunch Crust. Mix them together with your hands until the mixture resembles very small pebbles.
Press the Butter Crunch Crust into the bottom of the springform pan, covering the base completely and evenly. Wrap heavy-duty aluminum foil, or two layers of regular foil around the pan's bottom and halfway up it's outside, pleating the foil to tighten it securely. Bake the crust until it is lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
To make the filling: Put the cream cheese, sugar and salt in the large bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle or beaters or in a large mixing bowl. Using the stand mixer or a handled mixer on medium speed, beat the ingredients until smooth, stopping often to scrape down the sides of the bowl and under the blades with a rubber spatula. Turn the speed high and continue to beat until mixture is creamy. Stop the mixer and add the sour cream, rum, lemon juice and vanilla; then, on medium speed, continue beating until well blended. Add the eggs and beat just until combined. Scrape the filling into the prepared springform pan.
Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Place the springform pan inside a slightly larger baking pan. Use an oven glove, pull out the oven shelf and place the baking pan on it. Pour enough hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan, but not above the foil. Carefully slide the shelf into the oven and bake the cheesecake until its top is slightly golden and slightly firm in the center, about one hour and 10 minutes.
Carefully remove the baking pan from the oven. Lift out the springform pan and place it on a wire rack to cool, carefully folding down the foil on its sides to promote quicker cooling. When the pan is cool enough to touch, completely remove the foil and continue cooling. When the cheesecake is completely cool, cover the pan loosely with a clean sheet of foil and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator. Dip a long, sharp knife in warm water and run the knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the cake. Remove the outer ring. Continue to dip the knife into warm water as necessary as you cut neat wedges. To serve, place a wedge of cake on a cake plate and garnish with fresh berries of your choice. Or, for a special end to a meal, cover the entire cheesecake with assorted fresh berries and present it that way at the table before slicing and serving.
Recipes from Wolfgang Puck's Live, Love, Eat © 2002