Classic cheesecake is pretty hard to resist. It’s simple, rich and creamy. Sometimes there is a little tang from a sour cream topping or maybe it’s topped with fresh fruit, often strawberries or cherries. The traditional method takes hours. But in a pressure cooker – just minutes, with fantastic results!
Falling in Love with Cheesecake
I fell in love with cheesecake at a young age. Mom used to take us to a little place called the La Palma Chicken Pie Shop in Anaheim, California. They offered classic American food like chicken pot pies, mashed potatoes and had a wonderful bakery too.
Amazingly its still there and looks like it has not changed in over 50 years. Real nostalgia. We’d order a little chicken pot pie and a mini cheesecake. They were just a few inches around, tartlet size, and made in disposable aluminum tins. Classic style cheesecake with a hint of citrus, a graham cracker crust and sour cream topping. Going there was a big treat. Although I loved the chicken pot pies I couldn’t wait for my little cheesecake for dessert.
Cheesecake – An Occasional Indulgence
Although cheesecake is still one of my all time favorite desserts, I rarely make one. Being a healthy eater, it’s a high calorie indulgence – a pound or more of real cream cheese, eggs, sugar, lemon and a touch of vanilla. What’s not to love? A regular size cheesecake usually serves 12-16 people so if you are not serving a crowd there can be a lot of leftover cheesecake. All of those extra calories hanging around in the fridge can be very dangerous.
Cheesecake From a Pressure Cooker?
With the purchase of a new pressure cooker, I read about making cheesecake in it. It seemed a really strange idea at first. My experience with pressure cookers was my mom’s old jiggle-top model. I went near the hissing, spitting pot with trepidation, certain it would blow up. In it she made perfect rice, stews and soups – but never cheesecake.
My new pressure cooker makes incredible soup, short ribs and wonderful rice and bean dishes in radically reduced time with great flavor, but cheesecake? I finally decided to take the plunge and try it out. The result? Incredible! I can’t imagine making it the old way in the oven again. It’s fast and with the 7″ pan yields a small size that serves 6-8.
Just Mix and Pour
After mixing the ingredients, pouring them into the pan and placing in the pressure cooker, it only takes 15 minutes at high pressure. Then you allow the pressure to come down naturally which takes about another 7-10 minutes. That’s it! Then you cool on a rack at room temperature and chill overnight. It’s amazing. You can actually eat it almost right out of the pressure cooker. It’s like cross between a cheesecake and soufflé at that point. After a few hours or an overnight chill it becomes more dense and velvety like a traditional cheesecake.
The recipe I adapted is from Lorna Sass’ cookbook entitled Pressure Perfect, which I highly recommend if you buy a pressure cooker. If I made nothing else but cheesecake in it, owning one would be worth it.
After combining room temperature cream cheese and the rest of your ingredients together in a food processor or with a hand mixer you pour it into your prepared pan. I’ve tried both 7″ and 8″ springform pans and the 7″ size and like the results from the 7″ better. The pans seem to have disappeared from local cooking stores, but you can order them off Amazon.
I use gluten-free ginger cookies to make the crumb crust, which is pressed onto the bottom of the pan. To make the crumbs, whirl the cookies in a food processor or put them in a heavy duty zip bag and crush finely with a rolling pin or meat pounder. Many recipes use graham crackers for the crust. I like the extra flavor from the ginger cookies, either regular or gluten-free.
For a gluten-free crust, I use organic, gluten-free ginger snap cookies made by Mary’s Gone Crackers. I found them at Whole Foods. Check their website for where they are sold in your area.
To aid in lifting the pan into and out of the pressure cooker, a heavy strip of folded foil is placed under the pan. These “wings” are folded down inside the cooker so they don’t interfere with the lid closing.
Tools note – You will need a 7” springform pan, and a trivet that fits in your pressure cooker. The trivet elevates the pan above the pressure cooker bottom. I use an 8-quart Fagor model pressure cooker, but a 6-quart will work too.
Perfect Cheesecake From the Pressure Cooker
Adapted from the Pressure Perfect cookbook by Lorna Sass
For the Crust
- 1 teaspoon soft butter (for greasing the pan)
- ½ cup finely crushed ginger cookies (regular or gluten-free)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
For the Filling
- 16 ounces regular cream cheese
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1-2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon zest
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
- teaspoon good quality vanilla (almond is good too)
- Prepare a foil strip for lifting the cake out of the pressure cooker by taking an 18” strip of foil and double folding it twice lengthwise. Set trivet inside the pressure cook and ad 2 cups of water. Place the foil strip on the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
- Grease the bottom and sides of the springform pan with soft butter.
- Pour the crumbs into the springform pan. Pat most of the crumbs on the bottom with a little up the sides, pressing to adhere and create a smooth base. You can use your fingers or a flat bottom glass to assist with the coverage and evenness.
- With a food processor or electric hand mixer, puree the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in the eggs, lemon juice, both zests and vanilla. Do not overwork the batter. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
- Carefully lower the pan into the pressure cooker, keeping it level. Fold the foil strips down so that they do not interfere with closing the lid.
- Lock the lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure, then lower the heat to maintain pressure and time for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally. It takes mine 7-10 minutes.
- Carefully unlock and remove the lid tilting away from you so the hot steam can escape. When steam subsides, remove the pan to a wire rack to cool. If there is a little water on top blot with a paper towel. The cheesecake will look a little puffy almost like a dense soufflé. As it cools it condenses.
My Notes – Some recipes I’ve looked at direct you to cover the pan top in foil before placing it in the pressure cooker. I’ve tried it both ways and prefer the result without the foil cover. Yes, there is a small pool of water on the top but its easily blotted up with a paper towel.
Sass notes that you can serve it warm or cool. If you like traditional cheesecake texture, refrigerate covered with plastic wrap for at least 4 hours or overnight. I put a folded paper towel on top to catch any condensation from the plastic wrap, which should not happen if your cake is totally cool before putting it in the fridge.
To remove from the pan, run a thin knife around the inside of the pan, release the spring and remove the round pan rim. To serve, garnish as desired. Good options are:
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