Our Favourite Cheesecake / by Linda Klimack

Crust

1 or 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2/3 cup raw nuts (eg. pecans) finely chopped
1 or 2 Tablespoons sugar

Filling

2 cups small curd 2% cottage cheese
1 pound (2 blocks) cream cheese
1½ cups white sugar
4 large eggs
¼ cup cornstarch
zest from 1 lemon plus juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup melted butter
2 cups sour cream

Preparing the Crust

- Put a 9" springform pan in the freezer to chill.
- When cooled, brush the bottom and sides of the springform with the melted butter.
- Use a processor to chop the raw nuts and sugar into a ground mix.
- Dump the sugar/nut mix into the springform and shake and rotate it to coat the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Rinse and dry the processor bowl and blade.

Preparing the Filling

- Preheat the oven to 325  F.
- Place the cottage and cream cheese in a food processor fitted with steel blades and run at fairly high speed to combine the two ingredients into a smooth, slightly gritty looking mixture.
- An alternative is to press the cottage cheese through a sieve using the back of a wooden spoon. Then in a large bowl beat the cream cheese into the cottage cheese.
- If your processor is large enough you can complete the filling in there, otherwise you may want to transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Use a fork to lightly beat the 4 eggs.
- Add the eggs and sugar to the cheese mixture and beat until evenly combined.
- Add the cornstarch, lemon juice, zest and vanilla and beat at low speed.
- Add the melted butter and sour cream and mix briefly until just blended.
- Pour the filling into the springform and use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl clean.
- Place the springform on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  The cookie sheet make it easy to get the cheesecake in and our of the oven and will catch any leaks.
- Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the cake is firm at the edges and very lightly browned on top.
- Turn off the oven.
- Do not take the cheesecake out of the oven!
- Let the cake cool completely with a closed door, about 2 to 3 hours.  If you take the cake out while it is hot it will develop a crack across the top. A slow cooling in the oven will ensure that the cake cooks all the way through to the centre and will reduce the risk of a crack.
- Once completely cooked, you can chill for later use.

Serving

- Cutting a cheesecake can be a challenge. The secret is to use a piece of unflavoured dental floss about twice the diameter of the cake. Draw the floss tight between your hands and press it down through the cake as far as you can go. Having the springform sitting on top of a smaller plate will help by raising the pan above your work surface. Let go of one end of the floss and pull it through the cake. This will give a clean cut. Repeat the process to cut as many wedges as you like.
- Use a long thin knife as a spatula to gently work free the first piece.
- Plate the pieces and decorate if you wish: a curl of lemon rind, a fresh mint leaf, a curl of chocolate or a dab of cherry topping.