Everybody's favorite treats

Dessert royalty Maida Heatter has recipes everyone will enjoy, including this cheescake marvel of a dish.

8-hour cheesecake

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 8 hours
Servings: 12

Note: Adapted from "Maida Heatter's Cakes." Heatter advises that the correct oven temperature is vital because the cheesecake is not baked until done, instead, "you will bake for the specified time based on correct oven temperature." Heatter adapted this recipe from a cheesecake by food writer Andrew Schloss, who found the very low cooking temperature produces a very creamy texture.

2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons (repeat, 2 tablespoons) vanilla
2 tablespoons cognac
2 tablespoons dark rum
5 large eggs

1. Adjust a rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven; heat oven to 200 degrees. Beat the cheese in the large bowl of an electric mixer until soft and perfectly smooth, scraping the bowl and the beaters a few times during mixing. Gradually beat in sugar, vanilla, cognac and rum; add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

2. Pour the mixture into a buttered 8-by-3-inch one-piece cheesecake pan or a 2-quart souffle dish. Place into a larger pan that is not as deep as the cheesecake pan. Pour hot water about 2 inches deep into the larger pan.

3. Bake 8 hours; remove cake pan from hot water. Let stand several hours or overnight. To unmold, cover the cake pan with a flat cake plate or serving board; turn pan and plate over. If the cake does not slip out, gently bang the pan and plate on the work surface once or twice. Serve the cake upside down.

4. If you serve this before refrigerating or freezing (it freezes well), it will be especially delicate, creamy, tender and custardy. If you do freeze or refrigerate the cake, bring to room temperature before serving. Serve as is, perfectly plain, or serve with fresh berries.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 362 calories, 68% of calories from fat, 28 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 171 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrates, 7 g protein, 272 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.

Everybody's favorite fudge

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Makes: 24 squares

Note: Adapted from "Maida Heatter's Cookies."

5 ounces (about 2/3 cup) evaporated milk
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces (2 cups) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecans, toasted, see note below

1. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil: Turn pan upside down, center a 12-inch square of foil shiny side down over the pan, press down the sides and corners of the foil to shape it to the pan, remove the foil, turn the pan right side up, place the shaped foil in the pan and gently press the foil into place in the pan.

2. Pour evaporated milk into a heavy saucepan. Add the marshmallow creme, butter, sugar and salt. Place over low heat; stir constantly with a wooden spatula until the mixture comes to a boil. This mixture wants to burn; adjust the heat as necessary and scrape the bottom of the pan occasionally with a rubber spatula to be sure it is not burning.

3. As soon as the mixture comes to a full boil, start timing it; let it boil, stirring continuously, 5 minutes. (The mixture will caramelize slightly. It is not necessary to test the mixture with a thermometer — just time it — the temperature will be 226 to 228 degrees when the boiling time is up).

4. Remove saucepan from heat; add morsels. Stir until melted and smooth; stir in vanilla. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the nuts. Quickly pour into the pan; smooth the top. Place remaining ½ cup nuts on top, spacing them evenly and pressing down enough so they will not fall off.

5. Let stand until cool; chill until firm. Remove the fudge from the pan by lifting the corners of the foil. Carefully cut the fudge into pieces. Wrap individually in clear cellophane, wax paper or aluminum foil. Or place the fudge in an airtight freezer box. If you want to store for more than a few days, freeze it.

Note: To toast nuts, place in a shallow pan in the middle of a 350 degree oven, stirring occasionally, until very hot but not until they become dark, 12-15 minutes.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 170 calories, 33% of calories from fat, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 7 mg cholesterol, 29 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 89 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.

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