“ARRANGE WHATEVER PIECES COME YOUR WAY.” Virginia Woolf.
It’s been a little while since I last participated in the Improv Cooking Challenge, founded by Kristen at The Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. But I’m glad to be back! Every month Kristen challenges us with two ingredients that we can use in any way we wish. What pieces came our way this month? Cinnamon and sugar! This is such a classic combination and of course Snickerdoodles came to mind. There’s nothing better than that soft, sweet, vanilla sugar cookie rolled and covered in cinnamon. Unless it’s cheesecake!
Baking, for me is a constant practice in adapting your ideas. Sometimes I’m thinking about a way to put my favorite candy bar flavors into a cupcake. Or how about turning your favorite pie into a cookie? And many times I take a classic recipe and simply try to put a new twist on it; adding an unexpected flavor element or preparing in an offbeat way. In the case of a Snickerdoodle, well, I really love these flavors just the way they are. So this time, it was just a matter of turning one of my favorite cookies into a cheesecake! Sweet, creamy vanilla and cinnamon cheesecake is sprinkled with that same cinnamon sugar that the cookies are rolled in.
I mean, just look at the top of this cake. Doesn’t it look like a Snickerdoodle cookie?
You may already have the ingredients in your fridge and pantry for this simple, no fuss cheesecake. At the most, you may have to run out for cream cheese, sour cream and shortbread cookies.
Yields: one 9 inch cheesecake
Level of Difficulty: easy
- one 10 ounce package of shortbread cookies, finely crushed ( I used Lorna Doone’s)
- 1/2 a stick of salted butter, melted
Simply place the shortbread cookies in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until you have course crumbs like sand. Tip these out into a bowl and add the melted butter. Mix together with a fork until the crumbs now look like wet sand and will hold together when you pinch a clump between your fingers. Line the bottom of a 9″ springform pan with the cookie crumb mix, patting it down evenly and pressing it up about 1 1/2″ along the side of the pan as well. There is no need to butter the pan, since the crumb crust will be buttery enough. Set this on a rimmed baking sheet and put it to the side while you prepare the cheese cake filling.
Make sure your oven rack is in the center position and preheat your oven to 350°F.
Get ready to make one of the easiest, sweetest, and creamiest cheesecake fillings imaginable. Baking is such an exercise in patience for me. And I can’t tell you how often I find myself pacing in front of the oven. But when it’s all said and done, it will look something like this.
SNICKERDOODLE CHEESECAKE FILLING:
- 2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 8 ounces of sour cream
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, divided
Fit the paddle attachment onto your electric mixer. Blend the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar together on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy and free of lumps. (That’s why it’s important that the cream cheese be soft!) Add the flour, vanilla extract, and 1/2 a teaspoon of the ground cinnamon. When all of these have been incorporated, add the beaten eggs and blend until the mixture is smooth and all of the ingredients have been combined. Pour this mixture over the crust in your prepared pan and smooth the top. In a small bowl, mix the Tablespoon of sugar and the remaining 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle this evenly over the top. Bake this for about 45-50 minutes. What you want to look for is that about a 2 inch area along the outside rim is set when you jiggle the pan slightly. Let the cheesecake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then release the sides of the springform pan and let the cake cool for another 30 minutes. Remove the ring from the pan, cover and chill for at least 4 hours before serving. The cake will sink a bit in the middle and while it’s chilling in the fridge, some of the sugar and cinnamon mixture will naturally be absorbed. So I sprinkled it with a bit of sparkling sugar before serving.
So I have to share my thrifty finds with you for the picture above. The brown tablecloth is just 2 yards of fabric I bought at Joann’s fabric store. And the white linen is from Pier 1 Imports. But the two plates I got at the thrift store for 96 cents each. The glass cake stand, which has some little flowers on it and looks kind of vintage, was $4.96. But those 2 forks are two pieces of really pretty sterling silver. When I was at the store, there were two women scouring the utensil bin. And I just had to wait and pretend to look at other things until they were done. My eye went right to these forks in the bin. And I wanted them so badly! One of the women picked them up and my heart sank. But the other woman commanded her to put them back because they were so tarnished! You can get a better look at them in the opening picture. But I was victorious in my purchase because they were just 25 cents a piece! And a little silver polish had those babies shining in no time! I swear I’m going to open an Etsy Store when I retire from blogging!
So I hope you will give this simple vanilla and cinnamon cheesecake a try.
And don’t forget to visit my fellow Improvers to see what everyone did with cinnamon and sugar this month!