Passing the Torch: Grandma’s Cheesecake Recipe

This is the famous Roberts family cheesecake recipe. With it I posted the story I wrote about it for “Secrets from the Kitchen,” the recipe/story project I do with my students.

No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook authors.” -Laurie Colwin

When I was a little girl, I used to stand in the kitchen on one of the wrought iron chairs, pulled up to the counter so that I could see what my grandmother was cooking. I would study her movements intently, watching as each ingredient became a part of what would be the finished product. Often I would be her helper, cracking eggs or stirring a pot on the stove. It was always amazing to me hwo she could make just about anything I asked for, even if it was just shaved ice from the ancient freezer (with a small amount of soda poured on top – the original Slurpee, I suppose!).

As I got older, my love of cooking grew as I continued to learn from my grandma. Whenever I would visit her I would learn something new, from mustard chicken to chocolate mousse (my personal favorite!). Now, I love being the cook myself, the person everyone goes to when they are looking for a good meal. However, I still enjoy watching my grandma cook just as much as I enjoy making my own recipes. Though I have had years of practice with my own recipes and cookbooks, I still think that everything I know about cooking I learned from her.

In my family, my grandmother is famous for her cheesecake. The recipe was found years ago in an article. Though the magazine that published the article is long forgotten, the recipe is alive and well and inevitably makes its way to every family function that we have. For years my grandma would be the one to make it for every party or holiday gathering we had. One year, however, when my family threw a baby shower for my aunt, the cheesecake became my duty. The recipe was handed to me on an index card, and I tried it for the first time in my life. It was a success, and the torch was passed! From that day on, it has been my job to make the cheesecake.

Grandma’s Cheesecake

In order to make this cheesecake, you will need:

24 oz. cream cheese (3 bars – Philadelphia works best)
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
butter, to grease the pan

First, beat the cream cheese until it is softened. Then add the eggs, sugar and almond extract into the bowl. Beat all the ingredients together until smooth, thick and lemon-colored. Pour into a buttered 9″ springform cake pan. Bake the cake in a moderate oven (about 325 degrees) for 45-50 minutes, or until set (the middle should not jiggle when you give the pan a shake!).

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to sit. Don’t panic when the cake collapses – it’s supposed to do that! Once the cake is cooled, remove it form the pan and pour the glaze over the top (see the glaze recipe below).

Glaze

To make the cheesecake glaze, you will need”

1 4-oz. bar of German baker’s chocolate
1 tbs butter
3 tbs water
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
dash salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

First melt the chocolate, butter and water in a small saucepan. Once these ingredients have become a liquid, turn off the stove and add the confectioner’s sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir all the ingredients together until smooth. If the sugar is too climpy and not blending well with the chocolate, you can put the pan back on the stove over low hear for a few minutes. Once the glaze is smooth, pour it over the cheesecake, allowing the glaze to drip down the sides.

You can try a variety of different things with your cheesecake. You can top it with fresh fruit or you can add chocolate chips into the batter! Experiment with it and make it your own.

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