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It’s Fry-Day again, so you know what that means! Time to give our arteries their weekly workout, play with scorching oil, and fry desserts that don’t really require frying. What a magical day.
Today’s frying victim: Cheesecake.
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Cheesecake was sort of a bold choice, because we’re not big cheesecake fans at my house. Jason doesn’t like it at all, and I’m just lukewarm about it—I’m not mad at it, but I would never order it at a restaurant or make it for myself. I wanted to see if deep frying could transform the dessert from something that we merely tolerated into something that we loved.
Ding-ding-ding-ding! We have another winner! I’m beginning to think that deep-frying is the key to solving all of the world’s problems. President Obama should call me the next time he’s hosting a summit on Middle Eastern peace. He’ll supply the diplomats, I’ll bring the oil, and we’ll bang out some solutions over fried dessert.
Deep-Fried Cheesecake is a totally different experience from regular cheesecake. The best comparison I can make is to say that they taste like warm cream puffs on steroids. Crunchy on the outside, with a soft and creamy center. The sweet batter helps mellow out the cream cheese flavor, so they’re tangy but not hit-you-in-the-nose cream cheesy. My resident cheesecake hater snarfed down an embarrassing number of them in a short time, which is how I knew I had a success on my hands.
For the purposes of convenience I used a pre-made frozen cheesecake in this recipe, which made it one of the faster dessert projects I’ve made lately! Because each bite has so little cheesecake, and because the texture changes so much during frying, I don’t think it’s worth it to go to the trouble of making your own just to fry it. But if you happen to have homemade cheesecake left over from something else, by all means! This would be the perfect way to use up leftover cheesecake, and I imagine that different cheesecake flavors would work really, really well. Fried chocolate chip cheesecake, or dulce de leche cheesecake? Yes please.
Let’s talk sauces. Obviously you’re the boss of you, but I really can’t recommend serving these plain—I think they need a little drizzle or dip of something to make them pop. I made a quick raspberry coulis to serve with my cheesecake balls, using frozen raspberries, and it was the perfect accompaniment to brighten their flavor. You could also do a chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, dulce de leche sauce, peanut butter sauce, mango sauce…you get the idea. Just don’t let them leave the house naked! That’s indecent and not very tasty.
Now go forth and fry!
For the Deep-Fried Cheesecake:
- 6 frozen cheesecake about 1 1/2” tall (I used Sara Lee Original Cream Cheesecake)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup milk 1 cup +2 tbsp
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
For the Raspberry Sauce:
- 8 oz frozen raspberries
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
To Make the Deep-Fried Cheesecake:
- Cut the frozen cheesecake into small 1-inch squares. The cheesecake I used had a graham cracker crust about 1/4"-inch thick. I trimmed the crust down to about 1/8-inch so the center would be mostly cheesecake, but this is an optional step. Keep the cheesecake cubes in the freezer until you’re ready to fry them.
- To make the batter, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the milk and 2 tsp of vegetable oil, and whisk until the batter is smooth and free of lumps.
- Pour the frying oil into a medium saucepan so that it’s 2 inches deep. Insert a candy/deep fry thermometer and heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 360 F (182 C). Once at 360 F, take a frozen cheesecake square and dip it in the batter, turning it over with your hands until it’s completely covered. Let excess batter drip back into the bowl, then gently drop it into the oil. Repeat with 2-3 more pieces of cheesecake, so you’re frying 3-4 at a time. Fry the balls for about 2-3 minutes total, flipping as necessary so that they cook evenly. Mine had a tendency to sink to the bottom when I dropped them in oil, so watch them carefully and loosen them gently from the bottom with a spatula if needed.
- Fry the cheesecake pieces until they’re puffed and a dark golden brown on all sides. Remove them from the oil using a frying skimmer or slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat with the rest of the cheesecake and batter. Watch the temperature of the oil and keep it between 360 F-370 F (182 – 188 C)—remove it from the heat if it gets too hot, or let it warm up in between batches if the temperature drops too much.
- These balls are best served when still warm, but not hot, with a side of raspberry sauce.
To Make the Raspberry Sauce:
- Warm the frozen raspberries in a saucepan over the stove until they give off juice and start to break down. Pour them into a blender or food processor and blend, then strain the puree through a fire wire-mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Return the seedless raspberry puree to the saucepan, add the granulated sugar, and cook over medium heat until it just starts to simmer and you have a smooth, velvety sauce.