we have a dear friend, haji, who works with chris. his nation of birth is india, though he has lived in america most of his life. that india thing, though...he's a charmer. my children all have a "haji" fascination. he's funny and quick with the one-liners. he will play hearts or scopa when they are needing the fourth player (i.e. mom won't play). haji has been family to us for their whole lives and things are always happier when he trails in.
that being said, asa came to me the other day with, "momma, haji asked me if i had chee-cake and i said i can't know what chee-cake is. do u have chee-cake?" in asa's defense, he does speak very well. in fact, the reason he calls it chee-cake is because he thinks the singular of cheese is chee. brilliant, i know.
anyway, i told him that sadly, i was all out of chee-cake, but we could make some the next day. because i love my son, by golly!
so, wanting to use as much of my in-house ingredients as i could, i purchased only the cream cheese at the store. everything else was in my pantry and fridge. that's how i settled on key lime cheesecake with pretzel crust and strawberries on top. pretzel crust, because i was fresh out of graham, which i kinda prefer.
here's the super easy recipe. i use this same recipe for plain, pumpkin, caramel, whatever flavor i want. just leave out the lime and feel free to sub what you have on hand. perhaps you can avoid going to the store altogether if you have three bricks of cream cheese sitting pretty in your fridge.
asa did enjoy his dessert. two seconds later, he asked, "momma, when we gonna make strawberry cake?" brilliant, i tell you. brilliant.
key lime cheesecake with pretzel crust and strawberries
1 3/4 cups pretzel (or graham) crumbs
5 T butter, melted
1 cup plus 1 T sugar
3 8-oz pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup lime juice or 1/4 cup key lime juice (about 3 regular limes or lots of key limes :)
1 tsp. lime zest, optional
2 T sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Combine crumbs, melted butter and 1T sugar in bowl. Stir well to coat evenly. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and halfway up the sides of an 8 or 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, vanilla and 1 cup sugar. Beat till smooth. Add the lime juice, zest and eggs. Beat till smooth.
Pour filling into springform pan. Bake till center is no longer jiggly. Mine takes 45 minutes. This can take an hour.** Remove from oven and allow to cool. When it is room temp, place in fridge for a few hours. Serve with topping and whipped cream.
Hull and slice strawberries. Place in medium bowl and sprinkle with 2 T sugar. Coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes or in fridge for a few hours. This draws out the juices and creates a great saucy topping. Serve with whipped cream and feel free to sprinkle some wayward crumbs over the top (:
**i bake my cheesecake using the water-bath method, though it is optional. it decreases the chance your cheesecake will have a browned top. it also keeps it moist and creamy. use a large roaster pan. before making the crust, cover the bottom of the springform pan with double criss-cross layers of foil and tighten around the sides. when ready to bake, place the cheesecake in the roaster and fill with boiling water a couple inches up the sides. bake as directed. just remember to start boiling your water when you begin to assemble your cheesecake.