Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Star Spangled (sort of) Cheesecake

My American Flag Cheesecake. Not as star-spangled as I'd wanted
I made this cheesecake the first time a couple of years ago for my brother-in-law's citizenship celebration. After living in the US for almost 30 years, he finally decided to become an American citizen. I was in the midst of a rainbow cheesecake phase, so I thought that an American flag cheesecake was a natural choice for this party. To my surprise, it came out just the way I'd intended: red and white stripes and a blue square field with little blobby white stars. I even impressed myself. Unfortunately, that was before I got some food photography skills, and the pics I had were unworthy of a blog post. This year, though, I'm making it happen, and I'm blogging about it. 
It didn't turn out quite as well as it did the first time. It's not so star-spangled. If I wasn't in the middle of teaching summer school, I might just make another one to get the field of stars right. For now, I'll have to leave it as is. Sigh. I'm going to change the instructions below to allow for more blue and probably more white. The red sort of takes over. So hopefully anyone crazy enough to attempt this will have read this little paragraph and not try to make adjustments on their own. You've been warned.

Star Spangled Cheesecake

Prepare at least one day in advance for best results.

Special Equipment
  • 9 inch spring form pan
  • plastic roasting bag
  • Large roasting pan
  • zip top baggies (2 gallon or quart size and 2 sandwich size)

  • 1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  •  4 8oz. cream cheeses @ room temperature
  •  4 eggs @ room temperature
  •  2 tsp. vanilla
  •  1 cup sugar
  •  1/2 cup heavy cream
  •  1/2 cup sour cream
  •  blue and red gel food coloring
  •  8 oz. sour cream
  •  2 T sugar
  •  1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • fresh berries for garnish (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and butter (I like to crush the graham crackers in a gallon size zip top bag, and then I just add the sugar and butter and mix it in the bag). Line your 9" spring form pan with a circle of parchment that's been cut to fit. Put the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan and press firmly all over. 
  • Set pan into the plastic roasting bag and fold down the top edges of the bag to give yourself space to add the cheesecake batter.
  • If you don't have a plastic roasting bag to use for this, you will want to cover the bottom of the pan with 2-3 layers of heavy duty foil to keep the water out from the water bath you will use during baking.
  • Cream cream cheese until smooth.  Add sugar and beat until smooth.  Beat in eggs cream, sour cream, and vanilla.  Stir in heavy cream until incorporated.
  • Set your 4 zip top baggies into cups with the open end at the top to receive the cheesecake batter. 
  • Scoop about 1/4 cup into a small baggie and zip. Set aside. This will be for the stars.
  • Scoop about 1 to 1 1/4 cups into the other small baggie and add 3 drops blue gel food color. Zip top up and gently squish around until all gel color is incorporated. If the blue doesn't seem vibrant enough for you, add more gel 1-2 drops at a time. If you're feeling adventurous, add a whole blob at a time. Set aside. Obviously, this will be the blue part.
  • Divide the remaining cheesecake batter between the two larger bags, but make sure the bag that will remain white has more batter than the one that will become red. Zip one up the one for white stripes and set it aside. 
  • In the remaining large bag, add a dime size blob of red gel food color. Zip up the top and squish around gently until color is incorporated. Add and squish more red gel as needed.
  • Cut a quarter inch from the corner of the white baggie and squeeze a layer of white onto the graham cracker crust until almost completely covered. (If the flow of batter is too thin or slow, you can snip off a little more of the bag, but be careful not to overdo it.) With the back of a spoon or with a small offset spatula, spread the batter to fill in the blank spaces so you can't see the bottom.
  • Cut a quarter inch from the corner of the red baggie and squeeze a layer of red all over the white layer. Again, use the back of a clean spoon to gently spread the batter to completely cover the white layer.
  • Repeat the previous two layering steps until you have two layers of red and two layers of white. Now, take the blue batter and snip a quarter inch from a corner. Squeeze a ring around the edge that goes about 1 1/2 inches in. Smooth out with another clean spoon. Quickly add the next white layer just in the middle of the blue circle, making sure to smooth the white out.
  • Now cut a 1/8  inch corner from the small white bag and squeeze little white dots in the blue ring. The dots should be about the size of a small unpopped kernel of popcorn. These will become the stars.
  • Repeat the previous two steps until you're out of batter. Hopefully you won't be left with an overwhelming amount of one color.
  • Place pan into the bottom of a deep roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with hot water about halfway up the side of the pan. 
  • Place roasting pan with the cheesecake on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake at 350° for about 60 minutes or until cheesecake has risen and center is set.  
  • While cheesecake bakes, mix the topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • When cheesecake is set, remove from oven and pour sour cream topping mixture on top and smooth out.  Return cheesecake to oven for another 5-8 minutes.
  • As soon as you take pan out of the oven, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to release the cheesecake from the sides.
  • Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Cover with a single sheet of paper towel (or a clean dish towel if you don't have paper towels) and set a wooden spoon across the top to keep the towel in place. Put in the refrigerator and refrigerate overnight.
  • Cut and serve as-is, or with your favorite cheesecake topping.

Makes one whole 9-inch cheesecake (12-24 servings)


  1. Absolutely adorable! I've saved the recipe although I'd probably never attempt it, it's the cutest flag cake I've seen. Good job!

    1. Well, thanks, Susan! It did make quite a mess of my kitchen, but I think it was worth it. :)


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