Monday, April 18, 2011

Cherry Cheesecake Pie

This week, The Kid's preschool had a fundraiser dinner, and parents were requested to bring baked desserts (especially pie.) Always ready to send my kid along with massive amounts of baked goods, I made a Key Lime Pie, a regular sized Bourbon Pecan Pie, Third Trimester Chocolate Cake (in the form of cupcakes), and of course Tie-Dye Cupcakes. But I wanted to make something different, too, and one of the requests was for a cherry cheesecake pie.

This is a really simple recipe. I might have gone more complicated and made a true cheesecake base, but you saw my list of other baked goods--I had plenty of other stuff to do. So I made this quick and easy version instead.

The base begins with a brick of cream cheese. It's got to be room temperature--very important!

Dump the cream cheese into a mixing bowl, and then add the zest of half a lemon.

Start whipping the cream cheese (I used the whisk attachment on my mixer.) It's very important for the cream cheese to be very soft and fluffy when you start to add the other ingredients.

While the cream cheese is getting fluffy, track down a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Again, like I said in the Key Lime Pie recipe, this is not the same as evaporated milk. And you cannot use the two interchangeably. So make sure you get the right thing.

Open the can (and then wash your sticky hands.) Sloooooooowly drizzle the sweetened condensed milk into the mixing bowl, with the mixer running. You want to add the milk (hereon after known as SCM) just a bit at a time.

After about half the can has been added, stop the mixer and give the bowl a good scraping. In addition to the other things that I've said are important, it's also really important that the SCM and the cream cheese are well mixed.

Importance is important.

After you've scraped your bowl, you can turn the mixer back on and get back to adding the SCM.

Once all the SCM is added, just take a step back and let the mixer mix. At least 5 minutes--10 minutes is better.

All that beating time ensures that everything is well combined.
Remember the lemon zest? You'll also need the juice from that lemon. You'll probably need a couple of lemons (at least a lemon and a half), because you'll need to get about half a cup's worth.

Or, if you're smarter than me, you'll juice the lemon over a sieve, to catch all the seeds.

Yes, it seems like a lot of juice. But it's (also!) very important to use that amount. If you use less, your filling may not set, and, while it will still be delicious, won't be the most attractive pie ever constructed. Do not decrease the amount.

And please don't cheat. You really do need to use real lemons. Your pie might not set if you use bottled juice.

Turn your mixer back on and slowly pour in the lemon juice.

A little vanilla is the final filling ingredient.

Okay, now let your mixer keep going and step away again. Let me stress this--you cannot overmix this!

I used a chocolate crumb crust as the base for the cheesecake pie. You could use a regular graham crust, or a prebaked regular pie shell too.

And actually, while I'm thinking of it, if your store sells deep dish crusts, go with that. Otherwise, this filling makes enough for 2 regular-depth pies (because, keep in mind, you'll be pouring pie filling over the top of this as well.)

Pour the properly-beaten filling into the pie crust (or crusts.)

Smooth out the top and then pop your pie (or pies) into the fridge. 2 hours minimum, preferably 4 or overnight if you want to make sure your filling will set properly.

Right before you're ready to serve your pie, pour a can (or half a can, if you ended up with two pies) of your favorite pie filling over the top of the pie. I used cherry filling because, well, I'm advertising this as a cherry cheesecake pie. I can only imagine how fabulous this would be with blueberry filling!

Recipe: Cherry Cheesecake Pie

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
zest from half a lemon
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
1 tsp. vanilla

1-2 piecrusts (depending on depth)

1-2 cans cherry pie filling

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and lemon zest. Beat on high until cream cheese is light and fluffy.

Slowly pour in half the can of sweetened condensed milk. After half the can has been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Continue adding the milk until the whole can has been incorporated. Mix on medium-high to high for at least 5 minutes.

Slowly add lemon juice and vanilla. Beat for another several minutes, or until mixture is thickened slightly and very smooth.

Pour filling into pie crust(s) and smooth the tops. Refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours, or overnight.

Top pie(s) with pie filling before serving.

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