We had some guests over for dinner last Saturday evening and I didn't have time to start working on any sort of dessert till about 3pm in the afternoon... I had a fresh tub of Ben & Jerry vanilla ice cream in the freezer which could certainly pass off as dessert, but I think my guests expected much more out of me. At least i would...
So what do i do?? I know most cheesecake recipes advise the need to refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight, but the preparation itself is almost too quick & easy... it was all I could manage in the 1.5 hours before my guests were due to arrive... After some consideration I decided to take the risk! After all, if the cheesecake is not ready in time, I will still have the B&J ice cream as back up.
I used a fairly common baked cheesecake recipe that I've tried before (http://www.marthastewart.com/340227/raspberry-swirl-cheesecake). My preference is always the water bath method which eliminates the chances of cracks and cooks the cheesecake gently.
There are tons of tutorials and guides available out there for cheesecakes, but here's three points I personally feel is most important:
1) Rely on the water bath method
2) Beat the mixture as little as possible once adding the eggs, as excessive beating will cause the eggs to trap air, thereby increasing the chance of cracks
3) Leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour or so after turning off the oven. This allows the cheesecake to be further "cooked".
Was my cheesecake done in time for serving? After cooling it for about 1 hour at room temperature, I popped it into the freezer for about 2.5 hours throughout the entire time we had dinner. Once we were done with dinner I removed it from the freezer, removed the cake ring and served it straightaway with some left over raspberry puree that was also chilled in the fridge throughout dinner.
The cheesecake was perfectly fine even though it hadn't been refrigerated for 6 hours or overnight. A couple of my guests took a second serving! Given a choice, I wouldn't try something this last minute again, but it was good that everything turned out right just in time... Whew!
I took this shot below of the entire cake before it was cut and served. The rest of the shots above I took the day after with a few leftover pieces.