This is my go to cheesecake recipe. I've been using this one for a LONG TIME now and I love it. I've made lots of variations of it, like the Oreo Cheesecake (slightly changed) I made a while back, the Pumpkin cheesecake I made for Thanksgiving, and just plain over and over again.
This time, to keep up w/ my newly developed tradition of making not so common festive treats, I wanted to make a red velvet cheesecake. I played around with a couple of ideas before finally creating this one. The cheesecake batter is plain vanilla cheesecake. But what I did here was a make a red velvet crust and divided the batter into two parts and used green food coloring to make a green and white swirl. So the overall cheesecake had all the traditional Christmas colors: Red, Green and White.
It was so gorgeous cheesecake and it was delcious. The crust was my personal favorite new crust. I don't know where I came up with this idea, but it had a little to do with the Red Velvet Cheesecake bars I made for my friend Becky's wedding reception in June, but it was definitely not the same.
Red Velvet Cheesecake
1 box of red velvet cake mix
1/2-3/4 stick of butter, melted
4 (8 oz) pkgs of cream cheese, softened to room temp
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temp
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combo of the two
Green Food coloring
Spray a 9 inch spring form pan w/ non-stick cooking spray. Wrap the bottom of the pan w/ three layers of heavy duty aluminum foil. Set aside.
Mix 1/2 stick of melted butter with the cake mix. Do not use anything other than the powdery cake mix and the melted butter. Mix together until the batter becomes a thick, not crumbly "dough". If it is too dry w/ only the 1/2 stick melted butter, add in another 1/4 stick of melted butter. Try not to use too much more than this, or else it will be too greasy.
Press the "dough" into the greased pan. Press it into an even layer on the bottom circle, but also press some up the sides, at least and inch up. Try to make the corners as even as possible (I didn't do a great job of that as you'll see in other pictures, but it was still good).
Put a small saucepan of water on the stove top and bring to a boil. While the water is boiling, make the batter.
Beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft, about 4 mins. W/ the mixer running, add the sugar and continue to beat about another 4 mins, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating a full minute after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the sour cream/heavy cream (I usually only use sour cream).
Take out half of the mixture and place in a large bowl. That is going to be the plain white part of the cheesecake.
Leaving the other half in the mixer, add a couple of drops of green food coloring. Blend. If you need more, feel free to add as much as you want, but remember, you don't want to over beat the batter, so try to stick to only one more addition after adding the first few drops, just in case.
Using equal sized measuring cups (I used half cups), sprayed w/ cooking spray for both batters, pour in a scoop of the white batter right in the middle of the prepared pan. Then pour a scoop of green batter right on top of the white batter. The white batter will spread out underneath the green. Then repeat w/ the white batter right on top of the green batter, and keep going until you're completely out of batter.
It'll look somewhat like this:
Once you've filled the pan w/ all of the batter, place a large roasting pan on the oven rack. Place the cheesecake pan in the middle and then slowly and carefully pour the boiling hot water into the roasting pan. Slowly and carefully push the rack into the oven and bake the cheesecake for 1 1/2 hours.
After the cheesecake has finished backing, turn off the oven and prop open the oven, just enough to let the air escape. You can see a picture of this in my Pumpkin cheesecake post.
Take the cheesecake out of the roasting pan and allow it to cool to room temp on the counter. Once it has reached room temp, place the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but overnight is preferred. And in all honesty, this isn't a cheesecake you want to make the day of. Making the batter and baking it and cooling it enough to refrigerate it... It's a lengthy process.
Unfortunately, I was making this on Christmas Eve and we were also making galopita (recipe coming soon) and pasticio so I couldn't let my cheesecake sit in the oven longer than 20 mins. We really had to get moving. So I took it out of the oven and put it on a cookie sheet on the table. I left the foil on b/c it is still baking a bit in the pan in the oven, so I was thinking I should keep it insulated w/ the foil to keep the heat in and slowly cool like it would in the oven. After a while, I took the foil off and let it sit in just the pan. I finally braved taking it out of the pan a little while later.
I managed to do a good job getting the dough up the sides as much as possible. For some reason I can never do this w/ crumb crusts and I really wanted people to be able to see the red crust, so I was really happy this worked. Much better than coloring melted butter red and mixing that w/ Nilla Wafers or shortbread cookies!! :)
The crust was awesome. You can do this with any crust you want. I think it would be great to use a spice cake mix w/ a pumpkin cheesecake, or a strawberry crust w/ a vanilla cheesecake and top it w/ more strawberries. Or a lemon crust w/ a lemon cheesecake... Endless possibilities. And my fav new way to make crust. The red velvet was a bit of a pain b/c as you can see above, it sticks to the knife (even if you wipe it!) so it doesn't make for pretty slicing.
But all in all, this cheesecake was awesome It tasted delicious, as usual. I really don't think you can mess this base recipe up at all. Even if you don't use a water bath, it'll probably still work well. You just might have a crack in top. But actually, I strongly recommend using a water bath. It helps the cheesecake bake evenly, which makes the WHOLE cheesecake smooth and creamy, as opposed to the outside edges hard and the middle smooth and creamy.
So that's not the last Christmas dessert we made, but since it was the most Christmas themed, I knew I should post it before everything else!!!
Btw, I just bought this cheesecake pan (after Christmas, haven't used it yet) I am way excited to use it asap, b/c then maybe I won't have to use three layers of heavy duty foil to keep water form the water bath leaking in!!!