I left him cheeeeeese-cake! Does anyone remember that commercial? Where this cute little girl comes down on Christmas morning to an array of ridiculously expensive and large gifts. Her parents say something about how Santa must have really liked her cookies and she tells them, "I didn't leave him cookies, I left him cheese." Well I think Santa would have the same reaction if you left him cheesecake. And if it was this red velvet cheesecake that matches his ever so flattering suit, then he'd probably just move the elves, reindeer and all North Pole operations to your backyard in gratitude.
Ever since I saw this on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody I had to have it. I love making cheesecakes - I find that they are one of the easier things to bake because they don't involve a lot of fuss. It's basically, mix, pour and bake. The one problem I do tend to have with cheesecake baking is cracks. I do the water bath, but I think my weakness is opening the oven door. That mix of hot and cold air can upset the cheesecake's delicate balance and therefore cause it to crack. But with this cheesecake, you can cover any and all cracks with a flowing white cream cheese icing. Now isn't that just too good to be true? It's a real show stopper and perfect for Christmas dinner. So don't hesitate. Get over your fear of red food coloring, get out that springform pan and make the big man in red happy - well, maybe not him but definitely your dinner guests. Enjoy!
Red Velvet Cheesecake
For the Crust:
1 ½ cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup butter, melted
1 TBSP granulated sugar
For the Filling:
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sour cream
½ cup whole buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
2 (1 oz) bottles red food coloring
For the Topping:
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Crust:
Stir together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and 1 TBSP sugar; press mixture onto bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
For the Filling:
Beat together cream cheese and sugar at medium low speed with an electric mixer 1 minute.
Add eggs, unsweetened cocoa, sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla extract, vinegar and food coloring. Mix on low speed just until fully combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 325F for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 300F, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until center is firm.
Run knife along outer edge of cheese. Turn oven off and let cheesecake stand in oven 30 minutes.
Remove cheesecake from oven; cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 m minutes.
Cover and chill for 8 hours.
For the topping:
Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth; gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth.
Remove cheesecake from refrigerator and spread topping evenly over top of cheesecake.
Remove sides of springform. Garnish if desired. (I unfortunately had to travel with this cake to my dad's house and forgot my Christmas sugar sprinkles. Very disappointing. But still a beautiful cake nonetheless.)