Chef Alisa’s 20 Insider Secrets to Making Cheesecake Your Neighbors Will Envy!

Chef Alisa’s 20 Insider
Secrets to Making
Cheesecake Your Neighbors
Will Envy!
Copyright 2010 Perfect Cheesecake System
What is the “best” cheesecake
There are 1,000 of “perfect” or “best” cheesecake recipes available not only in
cookbooks but online. What makes a great cheesecake recipe? It must contain at
least these basic ingredients: cream cheese, sugar, and eggs. It can have all sorts of
embellishments of flavors such as vanilla or lemon peel but it must start with
these basic ingredients. Now here’s the insider secret of picking out the best
recipe: it doesn’t really matter. Why? It is the method that makes all the difference
in the world. Here’s what I mean- if you add ingredients always in the same way
with the correct method and bake it in the same way every time it is very easy to
change the flavor of the cake. I have made thousands of cheesecakes over the years
in my restaurants. I will share with you the full proof methods that work every
single time. Here we go:
1. You must use a spring form pan, lined with parchment paper, inner sides
buttered and sprinkled with sugar.
2. You must use room temperature cream cheese
3. You must beat the soft cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar together until
4. Never use a whisk attachment to mix with! Use a stand up mixer with paddle
or hand mixer
5. Add the eggs, mix only until incorporated then stop mixing!
6. The more you mix the more air you will add to your batter-you won’t have a
nice dense cake
7. Bake in a water bath (this will give you a very smooth, creamy cake with NO
cracks) for 1 ½ to 2 hours
8. Cool overnight before serving
9. Remove the bottom of spring form pan and paper before serving-never serve
on spring form bottom
10. Cut with a thin knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean after each slice
How do you avoid cracks in the top
of a cheesecake?
The easiest and most consistent way to avoid the Grand Canyon
size cracks in the top of a cheesecake it to bake it in a water
bath. What’s a water bath? A water bath is a method of cooking
an item in a larger size roasting pan filled with hot water. A
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cheesecake is in essence custard. It needs to be baked gently with consistent heat.
By putting the cheesecake in a large roasting pan filled with hot water the cake is
baked at an even temperature. This results in a very creamy cake all of the way
through. When you bake a cheesecake without a water bath the outer sides are
baked first and the center last. This may give you a grainy outer texture and
smooth, creamy center. By baking the cheesecake in a water bath you will avoid the
cracks that happen in a dry oven. You would never bake Crème Brule in a harsh,
dry oven and you should never bake cheesecake in a harsh, dry oven.
Do I need a “special” pan to make
The recommended type of pan for baking a cheesecake is a spring
form pan. A spring form pan has expandable sides and a bottom
that is removable. This makes it super easy to remove the
cheesecake from the pan. Spring form pans come in a variety of
sizes and shapes with variety of materials. It is absolutely not necessary to
purchase a top of the line 45.00 spring form pan from one of those top notch
kitchen stores. You can successfully make a cheesecake in a 5.00 tin spring form
pan. Again, it’s not the pan that will bring you success but the “method” of making
the cake. Make sure a round piece of parchment paper (you can find in the foil isle
of the grocery store) is in place at the bottom. Also make sure you either butter or
pan spray the inner sides of the pan and coat with sugar. This will help insure a
quick easy release all the way! By putting the parchment paper on the bottom the
cake can be flipped over (yes, I did say flipped) bottom and paper removed and
flipped back over to a serving plate. This is especially important if the pan is a non
stick. You do not want to serve it on the bottom because you will slice into the non
stick service leaving cuts that will eventually rust.
Can I mix the cheesecake batter by
Mixing by hand is absolutely not recommended. Mixing the batter properly in a key
ingredient to the success of a smooth creamy cake. Always use softened cream
cheese. You can pop it in the microwave for 30 sec intervals until soft or pull out
and let it come to room temperature over 3 or 4 hours. Once the cream cheese is
soft place in a large bowl or a standing mixer bowl. Beat the cream cheese and
sugar with a paddle attachment or hand mixer. The paddle attachment is the
preferred choice but the hand mixer will do fine. Never, ever mix with a whisk
attachment. The whisk will add too much air into the batter and will produce a
Copyright 2010 Perfect Cheesecake System
light fluffy cake instead of a dense creamy cake. It is also very important to cream
all of the lumps out of the cream cheese before adding the eggs. The eggs should
always be the last ingredient added. Add the eggs and mix only until incorporated
then stop mixing!
Do I need a convection oven to make a
professional, restaurant style cheesecake?
You don’t need a 5,000.00 commercial oven to bake great cakes. You
can make a cheesecake in a conventional oven just as well as a
convection oven. The convection oven of course cooks faster but is
not necessary. The most important thing to know is how hot or cold
your oven runs. I always bake my cheesecakes in a 300 degree oven.
Because my oven bakes slower than my restaurant oven I adjust the time. You want
to start at 1 ½ hours and then check your cake. If the center is set-not wiggly then
it is ready. It will not hurt the cake to bake it for a couple of extra minutes just to
be sure. The center should be firm.
How much does it cost to make a home
made cheesecake?
To make a basic 9” cheesecake will cost until 10.00. This cheesecake will consist
of graham cracker crust, butter, 2 pounds of cream cheese, ¾ cup of sour cream, a
little flour, vanilla or lemon peel, and 5 eggs. It will make 12 large pieces or 14
good size ones. Keep an eye out for coupons for cream cheese or store specials.
You can also purchase cream cheese in a 3 pound block from many bulk stores.
The great thing about making it yourself is that you know exactly what ingredients
are in it! There aren’t any additives or preservatives that you find in all frozen
Can I really make a cheesecake as good
as the “Factory’s” at home?
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Absolutely! It all goes back to learning the proper “method” of baking a
cheesecake. Once you have the method for a plain cheesecake down it is so easy to
add different ingredients to make “gourmet” flavors. By following the cheesecake
making rules (see #1) your cake may come out even better than the “Factory’s” .
Why? Well, to start theirs is actually made in a factory-mass produced. Since yours
will be hand made you have total creative control of the outcome. If you want to
make a 100% organic cheesecake, you can! If you want to make a sugar free
cheesecake, you can! Since you’ll be baking it in a water bath the texture will be
ultra creamy unlike the factory cakes that have an almost gummy texture from the
stabilizers. You also won’t have any preservatives in your cheesecake! The quality
of your hand made, artesian cheesecake will be superior to anything made in bulk.
Do I really have to cool the cheesecake for 5
hours in the oven with the door cracked?
Some recipes tell you to cool the cake in the oven for up to 5 hours
and even crack the door before removing it and placing it in the
refrigerator. Not necessary! As long as you bake the cake in a water
bath it can removed from the oven and placed directly into the
refrigerator. There is absolutely no reason to leave it in the oven to cool. For quick
reference: make crust, make filling, add filling to crust, place in roasting pan and
fill with hot water, bake for 2 hours or until done, remove from oven and cool in
refrigerator over night.
Do I need to protect the springform pan
before placing it in the water bath?
Yes, yes, yes! Some recipes will tell you to place the spring form pan in the water
bath, never mentioning that it should be protected. You have to protect the spring
form pan from the water so the cake will not get water logged. One easy and full
proof way to do this is with a pan protector such as the perfect cheesecake system.
It is silicone and will with stand oven temperatures up to 500 degrees. To learn
more go to . The key is a water bath cooking
method for an ultimate cheesecake but you must protect the pan.
Copyright 2010 Perfect Cheesecake System
Do I need to have years of baking experience
before even attempting to make cheesecake?
Not at all. Cheesecake has the illusion of being a very difficult dessert to make. It is
said to be temperamental. The belief that the planets, moon, and stars have to
align is just not true. You can as easily make a cheesecake as a batch of brownies.
One of the things that professional chefs do is called “mise en place”. This is a
French term that means putting everything in place before you get started. Get all
of your pans, bowls, and ingredients together before you start. Have your spring
pan ready to go with the paper in the bottom and insides buttered and sugared.
Have the cream cheese softened and your eggs in arms reach. Once everything is
laid out in front of you the process will go very quickly. No self respecting chef
will even begin a recipe without the mise being ready! The rest of the process is
just following the recipe and rules. I am a very firm believer that anyone can make
a cheesecake.
Can I make a gluten free cheesecake?
Cheesecake is a dessert that transforms very well into a gluten free recipe. Often
cheesecake crust is made from graham crackers, chocolate cookies, or sugar,
butter, and flour. Ground nuts can be easily substituted for the crust. Almonds or
pecans ground with a few tablespoons of corn starch and melted butter work very
well as a crust. If the filling calls for flour simply substitute cornstarch and do
everything else the same. You can also make a 100% organic cheesecake just by
using quality organic ingredients.
Can I make a fat free cheesecake?
You can make a reduced fat cheesecake but do not use the fat free cream cheese.
The fat free cream cheese makes a very substandard cheesecake. It would be wiser
to not eat one at all then to endure the strange, plastic like texture of fat free. You
can though substitute some lower fat cream cheese in the recipe. I recommend just
half regular and half low fat if you must. You can also make a sugar free
cheesecake by substituting a stevia based sweetener instead of sugar. I personally
do not recommend the artificial sweeteners or the ones “derived” from sugar.
These all have a very, very strange after taste.
Copyright 2010 Perfect Cheesecake System
Can I use one “master” recipe to create all
different flavors of cheesecake?
You sure can! At the end of this report I’ll give you a very good (some say the
Perfect) cheesecake recipe. It is the recipe that I make every other flavor with. If
you want to make a Chocolate Chip Cheesecake simply add a cup of mini chocolate
chips. For a Key Lime Cheesecake add 1/3 cup real key lime juice, zest of one lime
and a little green food coloring (very little) if you want a tinge of green color. For a
Chocolate Cheesecake you want to add sifted cocoa powder, about ½ cup. The
variety is endless! Just remember the eggs are always last!
Why should I make a cheesecake from
scratch than buy a frozen one?
The obvious reason should be because it tastes better. Let’s look at some other
reasons too. Nothing says you “care” like a home made dessert! If it’s for a
birthday, an office party, holiday gathering or just because people love home made
desserts. It shows you care. It shows that you’ve not only put time and money into
the thought but a lot of yourself. It is personal. When you can proudly walk into a
party with your cheesecake and it’s enjoyed by all, well, you just feel good! It also
gives you another skill. If you’re looking for ways to impress your soon to be inlaws, your honey, your girlfriends or your coworkers it’s the ultimate way to
impress. People love to eat and they love to eat a good cheesecake! I’m confident
that you can learn this skill easily! As far as frozen cheesecakes go-they’re just not
good. Nothing says I really don’t care or didn’t put a lot of thought into it then
showing up to a party with a frozen dessert.
How do I fix that ugly crack on the
top of my cheesecake?
You don’t. There’s no magic cheesecake glue or spackle. Sure you can hide that
crack with some melted chocolate or the ever suggested sour cream topping but
you know it’s there. Not only that but if the top is cracked I guarantee that the cake
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is dry and has a strange grainy texture. The best way to fix the crack is to AVOID
the crack! Bake it in a water bath. It’s that simple. You’ll never have to deal with an
embarrassing crack issue ever again.
How do I get the cake out of the
springform pan?
The beauty of the springform pan is the buckle. The pan expands by releasing the
buckle and the bottom comes out. Make sure the cake is set and cold all the way
through. I recommend making the cake and cooling it over night before serving. It
will be very firm. Now to serve the cake you want to take it totally out of the pan.
Pick out a nice serving platter that you want to present the cake for serving on.
Unbuckle the pan, remove the ring. Notice that since the sides are buttered and
sugar they release from the pan very easily. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of
the cake. Flip the cake completely over onto another plate that is not your final
serving plate. Remove the pan bottom and parchment paper. Place your serving
plate on top of the bottom of cheesecake. Flip back over onto the final serving
plate. Now you are ready to cut and garnish.
What is the best way to cut a
The best way to cut your cheesecake is with a very thin knife
dipped in hot water and wiped clean between slices. A long
thin boning knife is the perfect tool. By using a thin knife
you’ll create less drag on the knife. By cleaning off the knife
between cuts you create nice clean lines. To cut your cake into 12 pieces: cut the
cake in half, then cut into quarters, cut each quarter into three equal pieces.
Copyright 2010 Perfect Cheesecake System
Can left over cheesecake be frozen?
Yes. The leftover cheesecake can be frozen but the texture will change. It will not
maintain its creamy smooth texture. It will become slightly dry and grainy because
home made cheesecake does not have stabilizers added to it. If freezing can be
avoided I recommend avoiding it. The flavor will be good but once you’ve
experienced the ultimate creamy cheesecake the frozen will be substandard.
I used a water bath and my cheesecake
still cracked!
I have seen this before. There is a very simple
explanation. Some recipes say add an inch of water to the
roasting pan. Some recipes even call for a separate pan
of water in the oven to induce “steam”. The water bath
only works if the cheesecake is completely submerged in
the water. The cheesecake must be placed in a pan at
least 2 ½ inches deep and then filled as high as it will go
with the hot water. This is tricky so you’ll want to place
the roasting pan with the cheesecake pan inside into the oven and then add the
super hot or boiling water. Again, as high as the water will go. Be very careful
removing the water bath pan from the oven. You can slide out the oven rack and
carefully remove the cheesecake letting the roasting pan cool to room temperature.
It is well worth the trouble.
What is the ultimate and universal
cheesecake recipe that I should know?
Here it is! This is a tried and true recipe that I’ve made in my restaurants for 16
years. Follow the directions and you’ll have a great
cake. Enjoy!
What you’ll need for the perfect cheesecake:
One 9” spring form pan
9” round of parchment paper
Pan coating spray or 2 Tb softened butter
Copyright 2010 Perfect Cheesecake System
3 Tb sugar
2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ plus 2 TB melted unsalted butter
2 pounds softened cream cheese
¾ cup sour cream
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Prepare the pan:
Spray or butter the inside sides, not the bottom, of pan
Dust the inside of pan with the 3 tablespoons of sugar, gently knocking out
excess sugar
Place parchment paper in bottom of spring form pan
To make crust:
In a food processor or medium bowl mix together the graham cracker crumbs and
melted butter
Place crumbs into spring form pan. Press the crumbs up the sides of the pan and
on the bottom evenly. Press firmly and evenly
To make the filling:
In a mixing bowl with a hand mixer or a stand up mixer with a paddle not a whisk,
beat the cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream until smooth. Add the flour and
vanilla and mix just until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until just
incorporated. Stop mixing! You don’t want to whip excess air into the batter.
Copyright 2010 Perfect Cheesecake System
Mixing longer creates a fluffy, not dense cheesecake. So even if you want to
continue mixing…..Don’t!
Place prepared spring form pan into Perfect Cheesecake System Pan Protector and
pour filling into pan. Place sleeve into a large roasting pan or Pyrex dish at least 2
½ inches deep. Place in center of preheated oven. Pour very hot water into roasting
pan as high as it will go. You must submerge the cake! Close oven door and bake
for 1 hour 45 min-2 hours 15 min until the cake is set and it may be slightly brown.
Ovens cook differently from one to another so set the timer for 1hour 45 min to
begin. If you see a slight crack do not be alarmed! Because you baked it in a water
bath it will disappear as it cools.
When cheesecake is finished baking turn off the oven and open the door. Let cool
for 10 min. Slide out the oven rack and carefully remove the Pan Protector from the
roasting pan using the handles. Now you can let the roasting pan and water cool
before removing it from the oven. Let cheesecake cool for 10 minutes and place in
refrigerator for 12 hours or over night.
To serve the Perfect Cheesecake:
Remove the cheesecake from refrigerator and release the buckle. Remove the ring
from the cheesecake. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the cheesecake and
invert a 10” plate on top of cheesecake. Flip cheesecake over, remove the bottom
of the spring form pan, remove the parchment paper and invert a serving plate
onto the bottom of cheesecake. Flip the cake back over. Very Important: Cut the
cake with a very thin knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean between cuts.
Top with your favorite topping or fresh whipped cream. Enjoy the Perfect
Cheesecake that you just made!
Copyright 2010 Perfect Cheesecake System
About Chef Alisa’s Kitchen Magic
Hi, I’m Chef Alisa McPheron. I’m
the former executive chef and
owner of Main Street Bistro in
Lima, Ohio and inventor of the
Perfect Cheesecake System.
I have owned and operated full
service, upscale restaurants for
16 years. I graduated from
Johnson and Wales University in
Providence, Rhode Island (yep, I’m an Alumni from the same
university as Emeril Lagasse) with Culinary and Food Service
Management Degrees.
Through Chef Alisa’s Kitchen Magic my goal is to help people
achieve restaurant quality results in their home with the help of
innovative products and professional instruction. I believe we all
have the ability to make magic in the kitchen. Food has the ability
to touch people’s lives and create wonderful memories in ways that
nothing else can. Food can bring worlds and people together.
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Cooking should be fun and joyous and I believe it is a skill anyone
can learn. I hope to share my years of education and restaurant
experience to help people achieve their desired results right at
home. My philosophy is simple…Life is Sweet and Success is a Piece
of cake!
Copyright 2010 Perfect Cheesecake System