Slow Cooker Cheesecake

As someone who always bakes cheesecake in a water bath, I feel like this is something that should have occurred to me a long time ago. Why not make cheesecake in the slow cooker? It’s the perfect environment for a baked custard, providing long, slow, and moist heat. I’ve mentioned before that I have a group of co-workers that eat a “pot luck” lunch together every Thursday, and I often provide dessert. We do slow cookers in the winter, and BBQ in the summer. When I saw this month’s Canadian Living Magazine, I knew that I had some new things to try on (one of) my favourite groups of test subjects.  I don’t see the recipe on the Canadian Living website yet, but I changed it substantially anyway, so I’m going to share what I did, here.

Jar o' cheesecake
Jar o’ cheesecake

The first time I made this (at home, because Jay would kill me if I made cheesecake and he didn’t get any), I made the 6 that the recipe calls for. As far as I was concerned, the 6 cheesecakes were a little short in stature, and since I knew I’d have 8 people at work, I doubled the custard and 1.5ish timesed (those are words, right?) the crust.

The recipe called for a gingersnap crust, but I made a standard graham cracker crust:

Mix together:

  • 2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt

Put that in the bottom of 6 1/2 cup mason jars. I used 1/2 pint mason jars, because that’s what I had 8 of, that didn’t have preserves in them.  Well, I could have used pint jars, because I have lots of those, but I would have needed even more slow cookers than I ended up using.

Who ever said a citrus reamer was a unitasker?
Who ever said a citrus reamer was a unitasker?

To pack it down into a crust, I used the handle of my citrus reamer. Worked like a charm!

Next, assemble the filling. You’ll need:

  • 1 pkg (250g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 tbsp boiled cider
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt

The recipe actually called for grated orange zest and orange juice in place of the boiled cider and cinnamon.  I don’t generally have orange juice on hand, and I had boiled down some local cider this fall to make King Arther Flour’s apple cider caramels. Figured I’d try using the boiled cider to make apple cinnamon cheesecake.

Mise en Place
Mise en Place

The custard comes together like pretty much any cheesecake. Beat the cream cheese until smooth, add the sugar, and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs.

Adding the eggs
Adding the eggs

Beat in the eggs until well mixed, then add the sour cream, cider, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.  Divide this mixture evenly among your jars.  Or, in my case, put the mixture in the fridge overnight, in a well-sealed plastic container. When you get to work the next morning, all bleary eyed before your coffee, completely forget to take any further pictures. Discover that, even though Matt (pictured below) had offered to bring his crockpot to help you have enough space to cook the cheesecakes, because 6 is all that will fit in yours, you don’t actually need his, because there’s a random crockpot sitting on the counter in the kitchen at work. Even though you don’t know who last used it, and for what, and it looks a bit sketchy, it probably doesn’t matter too much, because you’re just setting jars in it, with some water.  So… Boil a kettle of water, pour about an inch and a half or so in the bottom of each crock, and put 3 jars in the random small work crockpot, and 5 in your own large oval one. Cover them with paper towel, under the lids, to prevent condensation from dripping into the cheesecakes. Turn the crockpots onto low, and note that an hour and a half from now is when you’re supposed to be in your second of 4 daily standups. Perfect (not sarcasm)! Attend 5 minute meeting, go down and take them out and leave them on the counter to cool slightly.  Attend next two 5 minute meetings spread over 20 minutes, then go back downstairs, and lid up the cheesecakes and move them to the fridge until lunch.

The Other Matt (aka TOM), aka Vanna
The Other Matt, aka Vanna

The next step is happy coworkers. Matt (as opposed to The Other Matt) brought jerk chicken for yesterday’s meal, and said we should aim for 12:15, because that’s when the rice would be ready. Doug and I decided we’d start with dessert. The jerk chicken was a real treat and helped clear out my sinuses, since it was nice and spicy. A few of us had cheesecake before, during, and after our jerk chicken, some to help ease the spice, some, because… cheesecake?

Pictured from right: Matt, Jason, David, Doug, my empty chair, and The Other Matt
Pictured from right: Matt, Jason, David, Doug, my empty chair, and The Other Matt

I cropped out the one coworker who seemed to be making an effort not to be in the picture, and we were missing Jeff this week, because he’s out west snowboarding at Panorama. We had an extra jar o’ cheesecake as a result, but Doug made sure it didn’t go to waste.

The general commentary was that plastic spoons made extracting the crust a bit of a challenge, but the flavour and texture were both appreciated. Maybe next time, I won’t pack down the crust quite as much, or leave it a bit thinner.  I don’t remember the exact comment, but Doug said I could quote him on the fact that it was just the right sweetness level.

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