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.
For a Gluten-Free Crust
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” – 8″ 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.