If your grandmother, mother or auntie ever told you that the favorite pie that she makes for every family gathering is made with love, that might be a load of bull, at least if it’s a recipe she originated or was trying to perfect. When I set out to make my guava swirl cheesecake, I thought it would be a fun way to honor my father by re-conceptualizing a dessert he loved. And while I’ve enjoyed the experience for the most part—especially the positive reviews on how it tastes—there have been moments of frustration and disappointment, especially when the first few versions did not come out as I would have liked. But I have finely achieved a version of this cheesecake that I am pleased with, and it feels victorious—in the same way that a prizefighter stands over the opponent he just delivered a TKO to.
So how many versions did I go through? I made seven cheesecakes over a period of two months. That’s a lot of calories consumed and time at the gym to burn off the excess weight. Being a newbie to recipe creation, at least the official documentation of a tested recipe, I was curious as to how many times the average recipe is tested before going to publication. According to Tina Ujlaki, former executive editor of Food & Wine and recipe editor for culinary luminaries including Julia Child, Jacques Pépin and Lidia Bastianich, it’s not unusual for a professional to test their recipes multiple times. Publications like Bon Appétit or Serious Eats employ test kitchen staff to ensure the integrity of a recipe.
When I first made versions 1.0 and 2.0 of the cheesecake, the crust was perfect but the filling was too creamy, almost undercooked, as reported on my Sept. 16 post, “Guava Swirl Cheesecake: What in the Swirl?” Some of the later versions came out of the oven with the top surface cracked, perhaps from overcooking.
To get what I considered to be the perfect cheesecake, I implemented all the tweaks that I had listed out in the post throughout my multiple versions including:
- Increasing the cooking time to one hour in version 3.0, and then dialing it back to 50 minutes in consequent versions;
- Baking it in a water bath; and
- Reducing the amount of guava to half the pack and straining the excess liquid from the guava pulp.
After the sixth or seventh version, I was pretty confident that I had nailed the recipe. The taste was never in question, but, I did want it to have a certain consistency and a beautiful swirl pattern going throughout the cheesecake, and I think I achieved that.
So someday, when I am a little old Latina grandmother, and my children and grandchildren ask me what’s in my cheesecake, I might be gracious and tell them it was made with love and leave it at that. Or I might regale them with stories of how I strove for perfection with this cheesecake. But more than likely, I will point them to this blog, assuming that blogs or web-based technologies are not obsolete.
Guava Swirl Cheesecake
For the crust
One 6.7 oz package of Goya® Maria cookies
One stick (8 tablespoons) of butter melted
¾ cup of turbinado sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
3-8 oz packages of cream cheese
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
4 eggs, room temperature
½ a package (7oz) of Goya® Guava Pulp, defrosted
- Adjust oven rack to center.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Set a roasting pan filled half way with water in the oven to heat up the bath.
To make the crust
- Butter the springform pan. Set aside.
- Crush the Maria cookies in a food processor for 20 seconds until the cookies become crumbs.
- Place the crumbs in a medium bowl.
- Pour the melted butter over the cookie crumbs. Add the sugar, cinnamon and salt to the cookie crumbs and stir to combine the ingredients.
- Pour the crust mixture into the pan and press the crust on the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Place crust in the fridge until ready to use.
To make the filling
- Empty half of the bag of guava pulp into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Let the excess water drain until you need the guava.
- Cream the cream cheese with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping bowl once in the process. (3 minutes)
- Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each one fully before adding the next egg. Scrape bowl in between each egg.
- Add vanilla extract or vanilla bean seeds. To add the seeds, slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the inside of the bean (the seeds) into the bowl. Mix for about 30 seconds.
- Remove bowl from mixing stand.
- Take ½ cup of the batter and the guava pulp and stir to mix.
- Drop about half the plain cream cheese mixture into the pan. Drop the guava mixture by the spoonful. Top with the rest of the plain cream cheese mixture.
- With a knife, cut through the batter to create a marble-patterned surface.
- Set cheesecake in the water bath in the oven.
- Bake for 50 minutes.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and set onto a wire rack to cool completely. Do not unmold.
- Place the cheesecake in the fridge overnight.
- Before serving, unmold the cheesecake.