Spring has sprung, ladies and gentlemen!!! At least, I hope it has since I have frantically purchased a new pair of rain boots AND a rain coat (from here and here, respectively if you’re at all interested in my shopping problem), so I say bring on those spring showers!!! Also not for nothing, this new rain coat is made from 25 renewed plastic bottles and I feel great about it. ANYWAY, back to food which is the real reason why we’re all here. This weekend I had the pleasure of doing truly nothing- you know when you realize that you have not one single plan for the weekend and suddenly the possibilities are endless? That was me for the first time in WEEKS so I knew I had to make it count. Aside from sleeping until 11 on Saturday, I took a trip to the garden near my house and wandered around the greenhouses with my sister, and then promptly came home to make this pie.
Adapted from this recipe from The New York Times and created by Erin McDowell, it starts off its life as a heavenly cheesecake pudding, which is essentially created like a pastry cream, only with a generous amount of cream cheese for that classic cheesecake tang. And, because I can never let well enough alone, I decided to jump a step further and pour the whole thing into a graham cracker pie crust and voila! A pie is made!! This could also probably be classified as a lazy person’s cheesecake, because it doesn’t require the temperamental baking in a water bath or hours of chilling, and in a pinch, you could even use a store bought pre-made graham cracker pie crust. I myself discovered that Honey Maid makes boxes of already crushed graham cracker crumbs, which is really a genius idea, and I hope whoever thought of it gets a promotion.
This recipe could be embellished in all sorts of ways if that was something you wanted to explore, I think next time I may swirl in some raspberry coulis on top because literally why not, you know? For the time being, I topped it with a handful of fresh berries, and I can confirm that the whole pie was gone by the next day. Gone, yes, but certainly not forgotten. Now go forth, and make your cheesecake dreams come true!!
But first, here are 5 things to be happy about today!!
ONE. Old computer games.
TWO. Mystery books.
THREE. “Adopt Don’t Shop”.
FOUR. Reusable straws.
FIVE. The tropical gradient of a mango skin.
MAKES: 1 9-inch pie (plus maybe enough filling leftover for one ramekin of pudding!)
PREP TIME: 45 minutes
BAKE TIME: 12 minutes
CHILL TIME: 1½ – 2 hours
PIE CRUST INGREDIENTS
5 Tbsp melted, salted butter
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp sugar
CHEESECAKE PUDDING FILLING
2 1/3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Raspberries or other fruit, for decoration
PIE CRUST STEPS
ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, mix together all your crust ingredients until everything is incorporated. The crumbs should be packable and hold together if pinched.
TWO. Pour the crumbs into a lightly buttered 9-inch pie plate and gently but evenly pack down along the bottom and sides. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the crumbs are toasty. Set aside to cool.
CHEESECAKE FILLING STEPS
ONE. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, heavy cream, salt, and a ¼ cup of the white sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
TWO. In a heat-safe bowl, whisk the remaining ½ cup of sugar plus the cornstarch to get rid of any lumps. Add in the egg yolks and mix until everything is combined and the eggs are thick and pale yellow.
THREE. Once the milk has come to a simmer, slowly drizzle about 1/3 of it into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that you don’t scramble the eggs. Once the egg mixture is warm to the touch, pour the contents of the bowl into the saucepan with the rest of the warm milk and mix thoroughly.
FOUR. Heat over medium, whisking constantly, until the mixture gets thick, about 5-6 minutes. At this point, switch to a rubber spatula, scraping the sides of the saucepan as you stir, until large bubbles start to come up to the surface.
FIVE. Off the heat, stir in the cream cheese and vanilla extract. Push the filling through a sieve to remove any lumps or accidental cooked egg, then pour the filling into your cooled graham cracker crust. Allow to chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours before serving. Top with fruit or whipped cream (or both) and enjoy!!!