Cheesecake!


Good Friday to you! And, I do mean Good Friday! (wink, wink.)

In honor of the holy-days this week, I thought I'd bake up one of my favorite labors of love, cheesecake. My favorite is a New York classic: the kind that can be topped with anything from caramel sauce to fresh berries but is really most delicious when eaten slowly, bite by bite, savoring the rich tang of cream cheese, sour cream, sweet sugar with a waft of lemony vanilla and the delicious crumb of a fabulous buttery graham cracker crust.

My favorite recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated's American Classics Cook Book as it not only tastes heavenly, it is also fairly simple to prepare. Well, maybe not simple, but straightforward. Put it this way, there will be no whipping of egg whites and folding them in. The only alterations I made to the recipe were doubling the graham crackers (I prefer more cookie to each bite) and adding more sugar to the crust. The cake itself is, as I wrote in the book, "Perfect. Literally."

The way I see it, if you're willing and able to put in the time and you have or can borrow a 9-inch springform pan, anyone can make this gem. And, as it is a holiday weekend, perhaps there is no time like the present?

Cheesecake a la Cook's Illustrated's American Classics Cook Book
For the cake:
(5) 8oz. packages cream cheese, cubed and brought to room temp (I recommend full fat, but I have made this with 2 and 3 packs of low fat with good results. Be warned, though, that all low fat will not yield good results)
1/4 t kosher salt
1-1/2 C sugar
1/3 C sour cream
2 T lemon juice
2 t vanilla
2 large egg yolks
6 large eggs

For the crust:
2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/3 C sugar
1 t sea salt
10 T melted butter

Yield: 12-16 servings

Oven to 325.

Butter the bottom of a 9" springform pan. 

Make the crust. Mix graham cracker crumbs with sugar and salt until well blended. Slowly pour in melted butter, stirring to incorporate. Pour crumbs into the prepared pan and tamp down on the bottom and up the sides about 2 inches. Bake in preheated oven about 15 minutes or until your kitchen is filled with the scent of freshly-baked cookies.

Take the crust out and set on the counter to cool.

Turn the oven up to 500.

Make the cheesecake. Blend the cheese until fully incorporated and creamy. Add in the sugar, a little at a time, beating until incorporated and scraping down the sides. This should take about 3 rounds of pouring in sugar, beating until mixed in, scraping down the sides and repeating.

Add the salt, sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla and beat until combined. Scrape the bowl and add the yolks. Scrape the bowl and add the eggs one at a time incorporating each and scraping the bowl before adding the next one. This will make sense as you do it because the batter is so large, you'll notice certain bits don't get mixed in unless you scrape over and over.

Pour the batter into the cooled crust and bake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven door, turn the heat down to 225 and bake until the center of your cake registers 150 degrees, about 90 minutes. Mine took 2 hours this time, so, you may need to bake it longer and keep checking it.

Cool the cake for 3 hours on the counter and then overnight in the fridge.

When serving, run a knife around the edges before opening the spring and removing the cake. If you're a little gun shy, leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan, but if you're feeling saucy, run a spatula underneath the cake and slide it onto your presentation plate or stand. As you cut the cake into slices, make sure to wipe your knife down after each cut so that you get good-looking slices for your guests. If you're using sauces, drizzle them over and eat up.
My little helper blending graham cracker crumbs and sugar and salt.

Pouring in the butter as Lulu stirs.

Tamping. You can do this with your fingers or the back of a spoon, too.

I included this photo so you could see how liquid the batter is before baking.

Un-sprung and plated.

Cross-section. See how much cookie is there? Mmm.

I ate 2 of these in about 3 minutes.
Again, because of the time it takes to make this right, it can feel like a labor of love. But once the soft, sweet, creamy cake is in your mouth, it's all worth it.

xox,

A.

2 comments

  1. Being originally from New York, I've had the privilege of visiting Lindy's Restaurant in Manhattan and tasting their well known cheesecake. But, let me tell you, Allison Stabile made our family her cheesecake the other day and her's is way better than Lindy's! Allison....please promise to make that cheesecake again for us real soon!

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