Pistachio Cheesecake for #BakeTogether

This month’s challenge for #BakeTogether was cheesecake. I love pistachios and have some pistachio oil on hand thanks to our trip to Paris. It was a good time to use some.

The first one I made was a bit of a disaster. My cookie crumbs were “gone over” as they say, but I didn’t notice until the whole thing was baked. I also think I used too much pistachio oil in the first one, the taste was kind of overpowering. But then fully chilled it might have been fine. I threw it out and started over.

We had the second one last night for dessert during the Academy Awards party we attended. I won the Oscar statue for getting 18 of 24 awards right! Everyone was very complimentary about the cheesecake. I thought it good, but I must admit my favorite is still the one my mom made growing up: Luscious Lemon Cheesecake, from Suburbia Today magazine November 1964.

Pistachio Cheesecake (Adapted from Abby Dodge)

For the crust:
 2 cups (9 ounces) finely crushed crisp chocolate cookies
•    3 tablespoons granulated sugar
•    6 tablespoons (3 ounces) salted butter, melted or unsalted butter & a pinch of salt

For the filling:

▪    3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
▪    3 tablespoons all purpose flour
▪    Good pinch of  table salt
▪    1 1/3 cups (9 3/8 ounces) granulated sugar
▪    1 cup of hulled pistachios
▪    1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
▪    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or paste
▪    1 tablespoon pure pistachio oil
▪    4 large eggs, at room temperature

To make the crust:
1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a piece of aluminum foil and clasp the outer ring over the foil so the edges hang outside the ring. In a medium bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs, & sugar until well blended. Drizzle with the melted butter and mix until well blended.

2. Dump the crumbs into the springform pan and cover with large piece of plastic wrap. Place your hands on the plastic wrap and press the crumbs about 2 1/2 inches up the sides of the pan.(The plastic wrap will keep the crumbs from sticking to your hands.) With the plastic wrap still in place, redistribute the remaining crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan and firmly press down to make a compact layer. I like to use a metal measuring cup with straight sides and a flat bottom for this task.. Bake until the crumbs are fragrant, about 12 minutes and set on a rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

To make the filling:

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, flour and salt until very smooth and no lumps remain. It’s very important for the cream cheese to be lump free at this point so stop and scrape the beater and sides of the bowl frequently.

Put the pistachios and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind together until fine.

Add the sugar and nut mixture, sour cream and vanilla extract and beat until well blended and smooth, stopping to scrape beater and bowl several times.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just blended, stopping to scrape beater and bowl before each addition. (Don’t over beat the filling once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much.) Tap the bowl several times on the counter to release some of the air bubbles. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Using the tip of a small knife or a toothpick, pop any air bubbles on the surface.

2. Bake at 300°F until the center jiggles like jello when nudged, 60-75 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight or up to 3 days. The cake can also be frozen up to 1 month. I served mine at cool room temperature, but would probably prefer it right from the fridge.

To serve:

Have a flat serving plate ready and close by. Unclasp the pan’s ring, remove it, and using the excess foil, gently nudge and lift the cake to be sure it’s released. Using the foil, carefully lift the cheesecake and slide it onto the serving plate and center it.. Tear off one side of the foil close to the cheese cake. On the opposite side of the cake, gently pull the remaining foil  out from the cheesecake. (If you are topping the cake with something yummy, do so now.) Run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.

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