Making a Silky-Smooth Cheesecake Filling: The Real Secret

on November 21 2022 at 10:18 AM

Cream cheese that is room temperature is no longer acceptable.

There is only one complaint about cheesecake, aside from the water bath, the infamous cracking, a long baking period, and an impossible cooling period: chunks of unblended cream cheese. Small lumps of unblended ingredients are frequently acceptable in cakes and quick breads made with flour because they typically shake out in the oven. But cheesecake is distinct. Everything needs to blend together flawlessly. And it turns out that we baking experts were wrong to advise you on how to avoid them all this time.
Generally speaking, the traditional method for making a smooth cheesecake has been to start with room temperature cream cheese (which could be as low as 55°F or 60°F), use an electric mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl 5,000 times, and add the liquid ingredients gradually—all in the name of avoiding lumps. But starting with melted—and warm—ingredients will result in a smooth cheesecake filling much more quickly and with less annoyance.
Cream cheese, eggs, liquids or semi-liquids, and sugar are the main ingredients of cheesecakes. Except for dry ingredients and anything weighing a teaspoon or less, all of these ingredients should be heated to a temperature between 92°F and 135°F, which is warmer than room temperature. You can achieve this much more quickly than having to wait for your cream cheese to sit out on the counter for hours. Your ingredients will blend best if they are all around the same warm temperature.
Put the quantity of cream cheese required for your recipe in a sizable bowl that can go in the microwave. Two to three minutes in the microwave, stirring after every 30 seconds. You'll notice the cream cheese starting to soften after a few minutes. By the time you're done, the cream cheese should be fluffy and soft, resembling the way it appears when you spread cream cheese on a too-hot bagel and it squirts out the back. The bottom of the bowl should also be noticeably warm. The cheese should be stirred until all lumps are gone and it appears lovely and smooth. Throw it in for an additional 20 seconds if you discover any hard lumps inside.
Any liquid, including sour cream, can be heated in the same way in the microwave by placing it there and giving it a stir every 20 to 30 seconds or so until it feels warm to the touch. Nothing should feel extremely hot because the ideal temperature range is 92°F to 135°F. Make sure with a thermometer if you're unsure. Anything above 144°F will begin to cook your eggs, resulting in a completely different lump than what we want. Simply place an entire egg (in its shell) in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes, replacing the water if it starts to cool from the egg's chill. The egg's temperature will gradually rise thanks to the hot water.
When the ingredients are warm and melted enough, combine them in the blender as directed by the recipe. With this technique, a whisk can be used to complete the task instead of an electric mixer. Not only will the ingredients mix easily, but you might not even need to scrape the bowl, which cuts the time required for mixing in half compared to the conventional approach. Place the filling in the prepared pan and use the extra time to fuss with the water bath.

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