The slow cooker is a mainstay of modern American cooking — but it's not just you and me firing up the Crock-Pot on a weeknight. Famous chefs and celebrities are not above its charms, and this week we're bringing you five recipes from five kitchen stars that show off their favorite ways to put the slow cooker to good use.
Most people associate Crock-Pots with thick, hearty stews or fork-tender cuts of meat. But the same principles that allow the flavors of a stock to build also apply to desserts made in the slow cooker. With this cheesecake, the slow, steady application of low heat yields a perfectly creamy, silky, almost custard-like texture to cheesecake, as demonstrated here by the one and only Martha Stewart.
Martha Stewart's Slow-Cooker Cheesecake: Watch the Video
A dollop of good, thick Greek yogurt or sour cream adds the slightest tang to the rich cream cheese filling, and the crust is totally classic: graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. And thanks to the Crock-Pot's low-and-slow methodology, that gentle, gradual cool-down period helps to prevent those tricky cracks, usually caused by over-baking, from putting a damper on the presentation.
By filling the base of your slow cooker with a half-inch of hot water and resting your springform pan on top of it via a support system of aluminum foil balls, the cheesecake is gently steamed in a water bath, lending that perfect, ultra-silky custard texture. Just do your best not to interrupt the cooking process by sneaking a peek under the lid.
Speaking of presentation, Martha gives a few choices here for you. You can keep it simple — a totally acceptable choice for such a stunningly rich dessert, of course. If you're going for something more photogenic, simply mix in two ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate or three tablespoons of raspberry jam with your filling, and swirl it gently with the tip of a knife for a marbled effect.
Slow Cooker Cheesecake by Martha Stewart
For the crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
Lightly coat a 6-inch springform pan with cooking spray; line the bottom with parchment paper and coat it lightly cooking spray. Fill a 5-to 6-quart slow cooker with 1/2-inch hot water. Set 3 (1-inch) balls of aluminum foil in the center of slow cooker. Wrap the slow-cooker lid tightly with a clean kitchen towel, gathering the ends at the top to absorb condensation.
Make the crust: Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared pan and press it evenly into the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of the pan.
Make the filling: Place the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and vanilla in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until smooth. Add the eggs and process until combined. Add the yogurt or sour cream and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Pour the filling into the pan on top of the crust. Gently tap the pan on a work surface to remove air bubbles.
Place the pan on the foil balls. Cover with the towel-wrapped lid and cook until set and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 155°F, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours on the HIGH setting (do not cook on LOW). Turn off slow cooker and let the cheesecake rest, covered, for 1 hour.
Carefully transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight. Carefully remove outer ring from pan and transfer cake to a plate (remove parchment). Use a warm knife to cut into wedges, wiping blade after each cut.
Marbled cheesecake: Use chocolate wafers in place of grahams. Melt 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate; mix into 1/2 cup batter and dollop onto filling in pan. Run a knife tip through dollops to marbleize top. Or melt 3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam; drop 1/2-inch dots onto filling; swirl with a toothpick. Bake as directed.
Pumpkin cheesecake: Use gingersnaps in place of grahams. Increase sugar in batter to 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons and flour to 3 tablespoons. Add 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice and 2/3 cup canned pumpkin purée. Omit yogurt. Bake as directed.
Storage: Leftover cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Reprinted from Martha Stewart's Slow Cooker. Copyright © 2017 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Stephen Kent Johnson. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.