My Mom always talked about what a good cook Aunt Kate was. She'd say "Kate could make franks and beans taste like a gourmet dinner."
Truth is, Aunt Kate (Kate Winter) was actually not my biological or married-in aunt; she was our neighbor when I was a little girl in Bridgeport, CT. In those days it was the custom to call your parents' good friends aunt/uncle, out of respect. My parents and the Winters remained close friends, even after my parents moved away.
Recently, while going through a purge of my recipe files, I came across Aunt Kate's recipe for cream cheese cake. It was on an index card, in her handwriting, complete with instructions, including the reminder to place the finished, cooled cake "in the ice box."
Naturally, I had to try it.
My Mom was right. This was one fabulous recipe. Creamy, rich cheesecake -- but lighter and fluffier than most. It doesn't need anything but itself, although Aunt Kate apparently garnished it with strawberry topping (frozen strawberries mixed with cornstarch and sugar). I preferred to use fresh berries so I changed that part.
Otherwise, in all its delicious glory, here is the recipe for Aunt Kate's wonderful cheese cake.
AUNT KATE'S CHEESE CAKE
- 2 teaspoons butter or margarine
- 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1 pound cream cheese
- 1 pound cottage cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups dairy sour cream
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12-15 strawberries
- 1/4 cup apricot or currant preserves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the butter on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle the inside of the pan with the graham cracker crumbs. Shake the pan to coat the bottom and sides of the pan completely. Beat the cream cheese and cottage cheese in an electric mixer at medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until they are thoroughly blended. Add the sugar and blend it in. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat the ingredients for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
While the cake is baking, make the topping by mixing the sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract together until well blended. When the cake has baked for 20 minutes, remove it from the oven and carefully spoon the topping over the cake. Return the cake to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off but leave the cake in the oven until it has cooled to room temperature.
When the cake has reached room temperature, (“place it in the ice box”) refrigerate it at least 4 hours or until it is thoroughly chilled. Wash and trim the berries and cut the in half. Place the halves attractively on top of the cake. Heat the preserves in a small saucepan and brush the melted preserves over the berries. Remove the sides of the pan to serve the cake.
Makes one cake serving 12-16