Back before my sweet husband and I started dating I arrived at his place with a cheesecake to celebrate his roommate’s birthday. Upon seeing it, Nate’s first remarks were, “I don’t like cheesecake.” To which I promptly replied, “Well it’s not for YOU.” This coming from a guy who thinks the best dessert at The Cheesecake Factory is the strawberry shortcake. Silly, I tell you…although I can pass on the Factory’s cheesecake pretty easily too.
At the time, I wasn’t really interested in dating him (o.k., maybe I was a little) so making a good impression or catering to his culinary preferences wasn’t a real high priority. If the birthday boy liked it, which he did, the cheesecake was a success.
Despite publicly making his disdain for cheesecake known, Nate took a piece. I guess he was willing to choke it down for the sake of a birthday.
You know what? Even he was surprised…he L-O-V-E-D it. And now, he’s a officially a cheesecake snob. In fact, this is the only one he’ll eat.
So, when I say that you’re going to love this, I’m pretty serious about it. The texture and flavor are just right on. The sour cream layer on top is key. It balances the richness of all that cream cheese with perfection. No, it’s not a twenty minute treat, but if you plan ahead a little you won’t regret it. As far as ingredients and procedure go, this is a pretty basic and straightforward recipe, but I’ll give you a few technique tips at the bottom.
adapted from my Grandma’s recipe
For the crust:
If you want a thicker crust, just make another half of the recipe. Or just keep adding graham cracker crumbs and butter until you have the right consistency and your desired thickness of crust!
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons of butter
In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Press into a 9- or 10-inch pie pan, lining the bottom and sides. Set aside and begin to make the filling.
For the cheesecake:
3 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Beat the cream cheese and sugar, just until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next one. Stir in the vanilla and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into prepared graham cracker crust.
Bake at 300 for 45-50 minutes. Turn off oven and let cheesecake remain in the oven for about 1 hour. Remove cheesecake from oven and let cool completely, or at least one more hour.
1 pint of sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
After stirring together ingredients, pour on top of the cooked cake. Bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes. Cool at room temperature for 4-6 hours, or overnight. Then, place in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve plain or top with fresh berries (my favorite)…or chocolate sauce.
Finally, a few technique tips:
- It’s best if you can have all ingredients at room temperature. (In fact, did you know that’s recommended for pretty much all baking, unless otherwise specified? I don’t always rarely plan so well though…) Your cream cheese is going to be lumpy if it’s not at room temperature. If you don’t have time for it to soften cut the block into smaller squares and microwave it for about 10 seconds at a time until it’s soft to the touch.
- Incorporating the eggs one at a time is a must!
- It’s not a must-do, but if you want to get really technical, bake the cheesecake in a water bath. It will help the cheesecake bake more evenly and help to prevent cracking. To do that wrap the bottom of your springform pan in aluminum foil and place it in a larger pan with hot water in it, just halfway up the outside of the springform pan. This will allow the cheesecake to cook more slowly and evenly.
- Don’t overmix! That’s another way to get cracks in your cheesecake. The more air you incorporate the more likely you are to have cracks.
- If you do get cracks, don’t worry…you’re going to put that sour cream layer on top. It’s an instant smooth surface.
- If you want really clean cuts, run a sharp knife under hot water to warm the place and wipe it off in between slices.