My guiltiest of guilty pleasures is cheesecake. I find it completely irresistible. It is the one dessert I absolutely cannot say no to. There are lots of cheesecake recipes floating around on Bakerlady, but I’ve never posted the classic New York Cheesecake recipe I absolutely adore. It’s from America’s Test Kitchen, who I always turn to for great tested recipes that turn out perfectly the first time, and every time. The secret to a great New York style cheesecake that’s dense with a suede texture is lots and lots of cream cheese and a low and slow baking method.
First we make a graham cracker crust. Bake it until golden, then set it aside to cool while you put together the filling.
First up, the cream cheese. A boat load of it. You’ll need five 8 ounce packages for this recipe. Two and a half POUNDS of cream cheese. Make sure it is well softened. I generally leave mine out overnight to be sure it’s all the way room temperature. Nothing will give you more headaches making a cheesecake than cream cheese that’s still cold. Cut it into cubes before getting started.
Then blend it until smooth. Don’t whip it, you don’t want air getting in there. Use an electric mixer on a medium low-speed.
Then add some sugar and blend again. Again, don’t beat it like crazy, just a low(ish) blending. If your cream cheese is the right temperature, you don’t need a lot of power to make it creamy.
And finally eggs. Mucho eggs. You aren’t reading the recipe wrong. You’ll need 6 whole eggs plus 2 additional yolks. Get it all blended together until completely smooth.
Then, we’re going to use a little secret to keep our cheesecake from getting too friendly with the side of the pan. Butter.
Yup, brush that melty deliciousness all along the sides of your pan, being careful not to disturb your crust. I find the only way I don’t spaz out and mess the grahams up is to start right where the crust ends and brush upward. Away from the crust.
Then pour your filling in. This cheesecake starts out at a smoldering 500 degrees, then the temperature is turned down 10 minutes in. All the way down to 200° – and then cooked for another hour and a half. Dry. No water bath. Do not open your oven. Don’t. Do. It.
When it comes out, immediately run a knife around the edge of the pan. This ensures the cheesecake won’t stick to the edge and crack as it tries to pull away when it’s cooling.
Boom. Velvety, creamy perfection.
The butter on the edge not only keeps sticking from occurring, it also creates a glorious outer rim of golden baked cheesecake. Yum, yum, yum.
This can be eaten just as is. Plain, simple and delicious. Or, kick it up a little with a simple strawberry topping.
I made this to bring to a dinner party, and since one of the hosts cannot eat fruit (she’s allergic to fructose…how horrible would that be?), I left the strawberries on the side. Which worked really well. It was a dessert poor Amber could eat and the rest of us just spooned strawberry deliciousness on top. Seriously, EVERYTHING has fructose in it.
I don’t think there is a more perfect dessert than a rich, creamy cheesecake topped with fresh sweet strawberries. Love. Enjoy!
New York Cheesecake
from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Cookbook
8 whole graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled. Plus 1 extra tablespoon butter for brushing on pan
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into chunks and softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
6 large eggs
For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325°. Process the graham cracker pieces in a food processor to fine, even crumbs, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the melted butter and sugar over the crumbs and pulse to incorporate. Sprinkle the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan. Press the crumbs firmly into an even layer using the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake the crust until fragrant and beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let the crust cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
For the filling: Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 500°. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until smooth, 1-3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beaters as necessary.
Beat in half the sugar and salt until incorporated, 1-3 minutes. Beat in the remaining sugar until incorporated, 1-3 minutes. Beat in the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla until incorporated, 1-3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks and eggs, two at a time until combined, 1-3 minutes.
Being careful not to disturb the baked crust, brush the inside of the prepared springform pan with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully pour the filling into the pan. Bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes.
Without opening the door, reduce the oven temperature to 200° and continue to bake the cheesecake until the center of the cake registers 150° (about 1 1/2 hours).
Transfer the cake to a wire rack and run a knife around the edge of the cake. Let the cheesecake stand until just barely warm, 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Chill until ready to eat. Serve as is or with Strawberry Topping.