Summary: My maternal grandparents were born and raised in a small town in southwest Louisiana. Both came from humble origins, and after WWII, my grandpa took over a family restaurant and made it his own.
He and my grandmother, Nanny, were beautiful, bright people who ran Frank and Bob's together, and traveled often to restaurant conventions around the U.S. On one such trip, Nanny picked up a recipe for the perfect cheesecake and proceeded to make roughly 6 a week at the restaurant for many, many years.
I grew up eating her cherry cheesecake for special occasions; my Dad always asked for it on his birthday. Over the years, this cheesecake recipe has evolved a bit as well but still retains its glorious creaminess. I've adapted it to utilize fresh lemon juice and zest, rather than lemon extract.
As well, I love fresh raspberries, and put them not only on top and inside but also as a layer in between by making a raspberry curd and spreading it on the cake when it (cake) is still slightly warm.
This is a delicious homage to my family and many wonderful memories.
Yield: 1 cheesecake
- 6 ounces fresh raspberries
- ¼ cup + ⅛ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/16 teaspoon salt
- 14 graham crackers
- 1 pound full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 eggs, separated
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 2½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- zest of 1½ lemons
- 6 ounces fresh raspberries, divided
Make the raspberry curd: Place the first 6 ingredients (raspberries, sugar, egg, lemon juice, butter and salt) in a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly but gently until the mixture starts to thicken and bubble around the edges, 5-7 minutes. Strain the curd into a bowl, pressing on the solids to release all liquid. Chill the curd for several hours or up to a day, and dispose of the solids that remain in the strainer.
Make the cheesecake: Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Put the graham crackers in a ziploc and pulverize them with a rolling pin, or blitz them in your food processor. You want small, consistently-sized crumbs. Toss with the melted butter until fairly evenly distributed and then pour the mix into a 9" springform pan, pressing gently down to compact the crust. Place into the oven and cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside while you prepare the cheesecake filling. Reduce the oven heat to 325.
Beat the 4 egg whites until stiff, and set aside.
Put the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl, and beat well. Add the 4 egg yolks, blend well, and then do the same with the sugar and flour. Add the evaporated milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and blend well. Once everything is well incorporated, gently stir in the stiff egg whites; then, carefully fold in 3 ounces of fresh raspberries.
Pour this mixture into your graham cracker-lined pan, and bake 55-60 minutes. The cake will be golden brown, the edges might have started to release from the sides, and it will look firm. Do not worry if the top sinks in slightly after you remove the cake from the oven.
Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack until almost at room temperature. Remove the raspberry curd from the fridge and pour and spread over the top of the cake. Use the remaining 3 ounces of fresh raspberries to dot the top of the curd-iced cake. Refrigerate until cold and ready to serve.