Margarita Cheesecake

Photo courtesy of B.J. LaCasse, Fine Texas Cuisine

The Lure

The Finished Product

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite... They say third times a charm. There must be some truth to that, because it took me that long to get this cake right. I've made lots of cheesecakes over the years, but always keep coming back to my old favorite develop by Craig Claiborne for the New York Times. I thought for sure I'd found one to best it when I came across a recipe for a Margarita Cheesecake in Jon Bonnell's, Fine Texas Cuisine. While the directions were imprecise, I thought I could work my way through the omissions and still come up with a gorgeous cake. It didn't work that way. No pan size was given and I learned, to my chagrin, that a standard 9-inch springform pan wasn't large enough for the volume of batter the recipe produced. When the three hours it should have taken to bake the cake turned to four, I realized that that a convection oven was probably used to test the recipe. The biggest disappointment was the appearance of the cake. It bore no resemblance to the gorgeous photograph that lured me to the recipe in the first place. I realize that recipes used in restaurants don't always transpose to the home kitchen. This may have been one of those cases, but it is clear to me that the recipe was never tested in a home kitchen or these omissions would have been caught. The thing is, I didn't pay for the cookbook or three pounds of cream cheese to learn that this way. I groused a bit, actually I cussed a lot, but I was determined to make a Margarita Cheesecake. I did that by going back to ground zero. I added orange liqueur, tequila, lime juice and zest to Craig Claiborne's recipe and ended up with a fabulous cheesecake that's worthy of the fifth of May or Mother's Day. Here's the recipe that worked.

Margarita Cheesecake
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, inspired by Craig Claiborne

1⁄2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
2-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2-1/2 tablespoons orange liqueur
2-1/2 tablespoons tequila
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3⁄4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs


1) Move oven rack to lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 3-inch deep 8" round one-piece cake pan all the way up to and including its rim with butter.
2) Combine lime zest, lime juice, orange liqueur and tequilla in a small bowl. Set aside.
3) Place cream cheese into bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium high, scraping sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula often, until completely smooth. Beat in vanilla and sugar well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, but do not overbeat. Stir in juice and liqueur mixture lemon zest and juice with a spatula or spoon.
4) Generously spray buttered cake pan with nonstick spray, then pour in batter. Place cake pan inside a larger 3-inch deep pan. Place it in oven and pour hot water into larger pan, about 1-1/2-inches deep. Bake until top of cake is rich golden brown and feels dry when touched, about 1-1/2 to 1-1/2 hours (cake will be soft inside and become firm when cooled and refrigerated).
5) Lift cake pan out of water and place it on a cake rack. Let cake cool in pan for 3 hours. Cover pan with plastic wrap. Place a flat plate on top, invert, and remove pan. Sprinkle bottom of cake with graham cracker crumbs. Gently place another flat plate on top of crumbs. Very carefully invert again (without squashing cake), leave plastic wrap in place, and refrigerate cake overnight. Very carefully remove plastic wrap. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Cook's Note: This is a soft cheesecake and can be difficult to cleanly slice. I actually put the cake in the freezer for an hour before cutting to assure clean looking slices.

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