If you’re looking for the best recipe for a classic cheesecake, then this is it. I am very cautious about calling any recipe “the best,” but I am confident in this case, especially since this New York Cheesecake recipe comes from one of my most trusted sources, Baking Illustrated.
The cheesecake is incredibly light and creamy in texture. I served it drizzled with some strawberry sauce, and it was an amazing end to our meal. (I’ll post the strawberry sauce recipe next time. :) )
Cheesecake is one of my absolute favorite desserts, and whenever I bake one, I pretty much enjoy a slice each day until it’s all gone. (Usually, I start by serving the cheesecake when we have dinner guests, so that I only have enough slices left to myself for a few days afterwards.) If you want to make this cheesecake for just you and your Valentine, you could halve the recipe and bake it in mini springform pans. Heart-shaped springform pans would be especially cute. I don’t have any, but I’m sure someone makes them. Maybe I’ll have to look into that…
New York Cheesecake
Makes 12 to 16 servings
For the graham cracker crust:
- 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tbsp. melted unsalted butter for greasing the pan
- 8 whole graham crackers (4 ounces), broken into rough pieces and processed in a food processor to fine, even crumbs
- 1 tbsp. sugar
For the filling:
- 2 1/2 pounds (five 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) sugar
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp. lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large egg yolks plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl; add 5 tablespoons of the melted butter and toss with a fork until evenly moistened. Empty the crumbs into the springform pan and press evenly into the pan bottom. (You can use the bottom of a glass to press the crumbs down, and then a spoon to press the crumbs into the corners of the pan to create a clean edge.)
- Bake crust until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while making the filling.
- For the cheesecake filling: Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla, and beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions.
- Brush the sides of the springform pan with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter. Set the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any spills if the pan leaks). Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake 10 minutes; without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Run a paring knife between the cake and the springform pan sides. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. (The cheesecake can be refrigerated up to 4 days.)
- To unmold the cheesecake, remove the sides of the pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the bottom of the pan to loosen, then slide the cake onto a serving plate. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges. Serve with strawberry sauce, if desired.
Source: Baking Illustrated