In my family, I am known as the "cheesecake queen." I held a desserts and drinks housewarming once. I made 10 different kinds of cheesecakes. Yes, 10.
That is not a typo. For another occasion, a family reunion at my parents, I made six different kinds (that was when I was crowned and given my title) and I have always considered cheesecake to be my go-to dessert.
My secret is that for many of the cheesecakes I make, I have a standard base, to which I add a variety of things.
So whether I'm making an eggnog cheesecake with rum sauce, a pumpkin cheesecake, an Oreo cookie cheesecake, or a mango citrus cheesecake, they all start with the same base.
But, a challenge cropped up a few years ago when my dad was diagnosed as having Celiac disease. I needed to modify my base crusts. Now, I make gluten-free cheesecakes all the time, and no one ever notices they are any different.
RONDA'S SECRET (AND GLUTEN-FREE) CHEESECAKE BASE
½ cup butter
1 bag gluten-free arrowroot cookies crushed into crumbs (or 1¼ cups gluten-free graham wafer crumbs)
2 blocks Philadelphia cream cheese softened
½ cup sugar
¾ cup sour cream
½ tsp vanilla
1 tbsp lemon juice
Set oven at 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Line with waxed paper, grease waxed paper.
In a medium bowl, melt ½ cup butter. Mix crumbs into butter. Press into bottom of springform pan, pushing the extra up around the edges in a lip. Refrigerate.
In large mixing bowl, using electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sour cream and sugar, and beat until incorporated. Add eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice, mix until incorporated. Stop mixer, scrape sides and bottom of bowl, mix for 30 seconds to ensure all ingredients are fully mixed.
Pour mixture into prepared spring-form pan. Bake 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from oven, let stand 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of pan. Cool completely, then chill for minimum 3 hours.
Ronda Payne TIMES reporter