- 2 cups Graham Cracker CrumbsYou have 2 choices here. 1: You can buy a box of graham crackers and manually crush them with a meat mallet, rolling pin, hammer, food processor, etc.. or 2: Buy them already crushed up for you. Usually you can find a box of graham cracker crumbs on the cooking aisle of the grocery stores.
- 2 tablespoons Sugar
- just a pinch Salt
- 5 tablespons unsalted Butter
Cream Cheese Filling
- 32 Ounces / 4 blocks Cream Cheesesoftened to room temperature. If you're like me and do things on the fly, the quickest way to bring something up to room temp is to cut it into little pieces, drop it in a bowl and walk away for 10-15 minutes.
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup Sugar
- 4 Large eggsRoom temperature
- 2/3 cup Sour CreamRoom temperature
- 2/3 cup Heavy Whipping CreamRoom Temperature
Sour Cream Topping
- 1 1/2 cup Sour Cream
- 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Pastecan be substituted with vanilla extract or actual vanilla bean seeds from one bean.
Cheesecake… I can’t remember when I actually had some for the first time but I do remember the first time I became conscious of a ‘cheesecake’. I was about 10 years old and mom got one for my dad’s 30th birthday and it had a horse on it. I suspect that was some kind of insult because he had hit a milestone birthday. My how we all wish we could go back and re-do that milestone. If you’re 30 or younger you’re just a baby, trust me.
Now that I’m all grown up I can say I’ve tried a different types at restaurants, but my favorites are the ones I’ve made at home. My favorite is always going to be the New York Cheesecake. I think that’s because you can add fruit compote or chocolate or nothing. I tend to deviate towards berries and cantaloupe (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it) with whip cream.
I think because the cake is dense and composed of cheeses people are intimidated. For me it’s always been about the challenge and the gratification of being successful. Don’t let the idea of making a cheesecake scare you off. You’ll find that the ones made at home are better than any you can order off a menu in a restaurant. Trust me…
First Things First
- Make sure your cream cheese, eggs, sour cream and heavy whipping cream are out of the fridge sitting in a nice cozy corner in the kitchen.
- Open your oven and move the top rack to the bottom third. This is where your cheesecake is going to hang out while it's cooking.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350F/177F
- Find a pan that is large enough to set your springform cheesecake pan in to. I like to use grandma's old aluminum turkey pan. You know which one I'm talking about... it's aluminum and black with white specks on it. Yep, that's the one.
- Put your springform pan together, tightly. Did you know that you should flip the bottom upside down prior to closing it up. This makes the cake easier to move the cake from the pan to a serving plate.
- Wrap the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan in heavy duty foil. This will keep any of the creamy goodness from escaping while keeping the water-bath out of the cheesecake (did I mention you're going to cook this in a water-bath? Don't be scared... )
*** You've completed step 1 if you're looking at your oven and it's pre-heating and the shelves are all aligned correctly, the spring-foam pan has heavy duty foil lining the bottom of it, you've found the a pan large enough to hold the cheesecake while it cooks as well as the water you're going to add to it and everything that needs to be room temperature is hanging out on the counter somewhere, warming up.
5 minutes prep, 8-10 cooking
Gram Cracker Crust
In a medium size mixing bowl add the crushed graham crackers, sugar, salt and melted butter. Mix it with spoon or buy hand until everything is well blended. It's going to be crumbly and buttery - if it's not there is an issue.
Pour graham cracker mixture into the springform pan. Gently spread the crumbly mixture around then press down making sure that the crackers are spread evenly along the bottom. You'll want to try to press some to the sides of the springform as well. You don't have to, but if you choose to make sure you try to make the side walls even all the way around.
When you're finished put the pan into the oven for 8-10 minutes. You'll know it's ready when the crackers have darkened a bit.
*** WHEN DONE REDUCE TEMP TO 325F/162C
Hope you have a stand mixer, but if you don't a hand mixer will suffice.
While the crust is in the oven cooking put the cream cheese into your large mixing bowl. I use the paddle for this part and recommend that you do to. Turn the mixer on at a medium speed letting mix the cream cheese up to a smooth consistency. Add the salt and vanilla and blend for approximately 4 minutes. With the mixer on low gradually add the sugar and then beat it on high for another minute. Turn the speed back to low and add the eggs one at a time (mixing until everything is well incorporated before adding the next egg)
Add the sour cream and heavy cream, beat on high for one more minute
(the crust should be out of the oven by now and the temperature of the oven should have been reduced to 325F/162C)
1 hour 45 minutes
Patience is always a virtue when making cheesecake
Place the springform pan into the large-sided roasting pan. Pour the cheese filling into the springform pan smoothing the top out with a spatula.
*** Pour boiling water around the springform pan being careful to NOT get any water into the cheesecake. The water should go about 1/2 way up the springform pan but below the top of the foil.
Carefully place the pan in the oven. Close the door and walk away for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
It's going to be tempting to open the door to the oven to look while it's cooking. Don't! If you need to look turn on the oven light and look through the oven window. You don't want to let the heat or steam out.
** If you want your cheesecake to be more firm, leave it in the oven (door closed) for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Don't Take It Out of the Oven!!
When your cooking time is up turn the oven off and open the door a crack. Let it sit like this for an hour before you take the cake out.
*** This step will help you avoid cracks in the cheesecake *** But, if you get a crack or two don't be upset because that sour cream topping is going to help cover it up!
You're outta here!
Now that the cheesecake has rested properly in the oven, remove it from the bath and dry the bottom. Place in the fridge on a wire rack and let it chill for at least 4 hour before serving.
Now we're getting to the fun part!
The cheesecake is cool. It's still in the springform pan and your company is on the way. Let's do the last step of getting the sour cream topping prepared and on the cake.
Put the sour cream, powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste/extract into a bowl. Whisk it until it's smooth and then pour it onto the cheesecake (still in the springform pan, right?) and spread it out with a spatula. If you had any cracks in the cheesecake this should cover them up quite nicely.
Put the cake back in the fridge for an additional 30 minutes (or more) so the sour cream topping can set.
Just before company gets to the house, or your ready to serve the cake remove it from the fridge. If the cheesecake hasn't already pulled from the edges (shrinkage) use a knife and carefully go around the sides of the cake. Take your time.
Now set the springform on a large can of something-or-other, un-do the lock on the springform and let the pan expand. Lower the sides to the counter.
Place the bottom of the springform pan with the cake still on it onto a serving dish. (Removing a cheesecake from the bottom of the springform pan can be dicey and will require a video)
CONGRATULATIONS! You've just made an AWESOME Cheesecake!