Breaking in my new Instant Pot with rice, beans and a New York-style cheesecake you have to try

Every Instant Pot fantasy I’d ever had about making refried beans in no time flat came true last week when I finally turned on this crazy popular countertop appliance.

Multicookers, the most famous brand of which is the Instant Pot, is a great way to cook in the summer when you don’t want to turn on the stove or the oven. You can make refried beans, from dried to finished, in less than 2 hours. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

In about 90 minutes, I turned an 88-cent bag of dried pinto beans into a pot of hot, cheesy, creamy deliciousness. The next day, I made jasmine rice in about 15 minutes, which wasn’t quite as impressive in saving time because I’m used to a rice cooker. The rice stuck to the bottom of the pot, but that was likely a first timer error on my part.

I made this cheesecake in an Instant Pot, but you could use a regular pressure cooker or another brand of a multicooker. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

But the recipe that has made me an earlier believer in this whole Instant Pot thing is a New York-style cheesecake recipe from PressureCookRecipes.com. This is author Amy and Jacky’s 17th version of this recipe, and their thorough instructions made it easy for me to follow the steps as I made the dessert with my kids on Sunday.

When I brought the cheesecake into the office, I was worried that it might be too eggy or too savory or too pasty, but what a delight to take one bite and know that it was a success. With a thick crust and a smooth, dense center, the cheesecake was rich but not heavy. My editor tasted it and said it reminded her of her mother’s cheese pie, a sweet memory of Oklahoma foodways when she was a kid.

To make the cherry glaze, I pitted about ½ pound of cherries and simmered them with sugar. Next time, I’ll follow the Washington State Fruit Commission’s recipe (below) for cherry jubilee, a cherry topping sauce that can be swirled into ice cream or used as a pie filling.

This cherry cheesecake took about an hour to make, not counting the time needed to let the ingredients come to room temperature. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

New York-Style Cheesecake in a Pressure Cooker

Making a cheesecake – especially in an Instant Pot, where you don’t have to fiddle with making a bain marie setup in your oven – is easy if you remember the most important step in making a cheesecake: letting the cream cheese come to room temperature, which takes at least a few hours. You should also let your eggs and sour cream come to room temperature before starting to make the batter. If you don’t, you’ll have lumpy or puffy or otherwise weirdly textured cheesecake, which will make you never want to bake a cheesecake again.

This recipe comes from the genius cooks behind PressureCookRecipes.com, who are on their 17th iteration of this recipe. They are thoroughly detailed in their methodology, which I’ve streamlined and adapted below.

You can either make it dense and rich or smooth and creamy, and I chose to make it the former but added instructions to the recipe on how to make it lighter and creamier. They suggest using a handheld mixer instead of a stand mixer for this recipe because it introduces less air into the batter. If you’re using a 6-inch pan, increase the cooking time to 31 minutes. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, bake the cheesecake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees, but don’t forget that water bath.

10 graham crackers
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the batter:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup white sugar
2 pinches of sea salt
16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature

To make the crust, finely grind graham crackers in a food processor. Alternatively, you can place them in a zip-top plastic bag and roll them with a rolling pin. In a small mixing bowl, mix graham crackers, a pinch of sea salt and brown sugar. Add melted butter until the mixture sticks together when you pinch it with your fingers.

For best results, line the bottom of a 7-inch springform cheesecake pan with parchment and cut a strip of parchment to line the sides, too. If you have a nonstick springform pan, parchment is not necessary. Press the graham cracker crust into the bottom of the pan, using the back of a spoon or bottom of a measuring cup.

At this point, you can freeze the cheesecake pan in the freezer while you make the cheesecake batter, or, for a crisper crust, you can blind-bake it at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.

To make the cheesecake batter, mix together cornstarch, two pinches of sea salt and white sugar together. In a medium bowl, use a handheld mixer to briefly beat the room temperature cream cheese for about 10 to 15 seconds, which will further soften it. Add half the sugar mixture and beat at low speed until just incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the sugar. For a creamier cheesecake, beat for a minute.

Add sour cream and vanilla extract to the cream cheese mixture. Beat until just incorporated, or longer for a creamier cheesecake. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl in between each one.

Fold the batter with a silicon spatula and then pour the batter onto the crust in the cheesecake pan. Tap the pan against the counter a few times to release any air bubbles, which you can pop with a toothpick.

To cook the cheesecake, pour 1 cup of cold water in pressure cooker and place the steamer rack in the pot. Place the cheesecake pan on the rack and close the lid. Cook at High Pressure for 26 minutes and let the steam release naturally, which will take about 7 minutes. Open the multicooker and use a paper towel to absorb any condensation that collects on top of the cheesecake.

Leave the cheesecake in the cooker with the lid off and allow to cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, store the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge about 20 minutes before you’d like to serve it. Release the springform and peel off the parchment paper. Cut into slices and serve with cherry topping (see recipe below).

— Adapted from a recipe by Amy and Jacky on PressureCookRecipes.com

Let the cheesecake cool in the multicooker and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Fresh Cherry Sauce

The founding fathers didn’t plan it this way, but the nation’s birthday celebration occurs smack dab in the middle of the Northwest fresh sweet cherry season. Even though young George Washington apparently had an ax to grind with the tree itself, other colonists worked long and hard to develop cherry orchards in their adopted land.

All sweet cherries work in a cherry sauce, although dark cherries offer a more dramatic color contrast with the ice cream. Enjoy the fresh cherries while you can. Northwest cherries arrive in markets beginning in June and are gone by mid-August. Make sure you get all the pits or the sauce will take on an almond-like flavor.

— Northwest Cherry Growers

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
3 cups pitted Northwest fresh sweet cherries
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 cup brandy, optional
1 quart vanilla ice cream

Combine sugar and cornstarch. Blend in water and orange juice. Cook and stir until thickened and smooth. Add cherries and orange peel; return to boil and simmer 10 minutes. Gently heat brandy, pour over sauce and flame, if desired. Serve over ice cream. Serves 8, but recipe can be halved.

— Washington State Fruit Commission


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