New York Cheesecake

When someone has a birthday around here, I always make whatever kind of birthday cake they want. That’s just the way I roll.

Last weekend was the hubster’s birthday, and he decided he wanted New York cheesecake. He loves cheesecake, and I think the fact that I rarely make it makes him like it even more. I made cheesecake for the first time about three years ago. Like most things I was intimidated because of all the stories I’d heard about how difficult they are. The truth? If you have an electric mixer, they’re not difficult at all.

Before I get into the process, here are a few things I’ve learned over the years:

  • Unless you live in a hot climate, lay the cream cheese out the night before. It needs to be good and soft and because there is so much, it takes quite a while to soften.
  • Cut the cream cheese into chunks while it’s still cold. It’s just easier and cleaner.
  • If you’re going to serve your cheesecake the same day you make it, then you need to start it in the morning. They take several hours to cool and set up.
  • You use a 9″ pan for this, but you can substitute a 10″ pan if you adjust your baking times accordingly. You cannot use an 8″ pan, all of the batter will not fit.
  • Don’t over mix once the eggs are added. It causes them to break down, which can lead to *gulp* a cracked cheesecake.
  • The same goes with over baking or opening the oven door a lot. Both lead to the cake drying out, which causes cracks.

Not much, but these are all things that really help save time and heartache!

The first thing we need to make is the crust. All you need is melted unsalted butter, sugar, and graham crackers. Crush the graham crackers until they are all crumbs. I like to use my food processor to do that, but it’s pretty simple to do by hand too. Mix in the sugar, then use a fork to stir in the melted butter. The mixture should look like wet sand after it’s mixed.

For cheesecake, you need a springform pan. It’s essential for removing the cake. I have heard that lining a regular cake pan with foil is an option (you can attempt to lift the cake out with the foil), but it completely changes baking times, as well as giving the cake sides rough edges.

Brush a 9″ springform pan with about 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter. Press in the graham cracker mixture across the bottom of the pan firmly. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before using.

While the crust cools, mix up the cake batter. You need vanilla, egg yolks, salt, sour cream, lemon juice, sugar, cream cheese (cut into chunks), and whole eggs.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese for about a minute or so, until it’s smooth and creamy. Add the salt and continue mixing while you slowly add the sugar. Beat for another minute or so, then thoroughly scrape the bowl and beater. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla and beat for another minute or so, until all of the ingredients are incorporated, then add the egg yolks and mix well for about a minute. Scrape everything down again and begin adding the eggs, one at a time, beating each one in for about a minute before adding the next. Scrape the bowl and beater after every two eggs.

Brush another half tablespoon of butter around the sides of the pan and place it in the center of a rimmed baking sheet (in case your pan leaks). Pour in the cake batter. It will fill the pan right up to the very top, but it will all fit. Bake for 10 minutes at 500 degrees, then reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue baking for about an hour and a half. Don’t open the oven door until you have to check the temperature of the cake. The center of the cheesecake should be about 150 degrees. I usually check it the first time at about one hour and 10 minutes, since every oven is different.

I had to use a 10 inch pan this time, so it isn’t quite as full. If you do this, you will bake the cake for a shorter amount of time, as the actual batter level will be lower. Start checking the temperature at one hour.

Place the finished cheesecake on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for about three hours, then run a paring knife around the edge of the cake. Cover the cake (still in the pan) with plastic wrap and chill for about three hours before serving. To serve, remove the sides of the pan and slice with a sharp knife. I serve the cake directly from the bottom of the springform pan, but you can try to transfer it to a pretty plate by using a spatula to loosen it from the bottom of the pan before sliding it off onto a plate. Mine never wants to slide off, so I leave it alone.

This cheesecake has a soft, very smooth center that gets almost cake-y as it moves towards the edge. This will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for four or five days. Or you can slice the whole thing and freeze any leftovers in an airtight container for up to one month! This cake can really stand on it’s own and is very delicious plain…

…or you can top it with strawberries, raspberries, or other fruit (or even chocolate sauce and whipped cream) for something different. However you choose to have your cheesecake, enjoy!!

New York Cheesecake

Ingredients

FOR THE CRUST
1 sleeve (9 crackers) graham crackers, crushed to fine crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar

FOR THE CAKE
5 – 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks
good pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 egg yolks
6 whole eggs

To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Brush about 1/2 tablespoon melted butter in a 9 inch springform pan, especially the bottom.

In a small bowl, mix in the sugar and graham cracker crumbs, then use a fork to stir in the melted butter. The mixture should look like wet sand after it’s mixed. Press the graham mixture firmly across the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before adding the cake batter.

For the cake: Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese for about a minute or so, until it’s smooth and creamy. Add the salt and continue mixing while you slowly add the sugar. Beat for another minute or so, then thoroughly scrape the bowl and beater. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla and beat for another minute or so, until all of the ingredients are incorporated, then add the egg yolks and mix well for about a minute. Scrape everything down again and begin adding the eggs, one at a time, beating each one in for about a minute before adding the next. Scrape the bowl and beater after every two eggs.

Brush another half tablespoon of butter around the sides of the pan and place it in the center of a rimmed baking sheet. Pour in the cake batter and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue baking for about an hour and a half. Don’t open the oven door until you have to check the temperature of the cake. The center of the cheesecake should be about 150 degrees. Place the cheesecake on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for about three hours, then run a paring knife around the edge of the cake. Cover the cake (still in the pan) with plastic wrap and chill for about three hours before serving. To serve, remove the sides of the pan (transfer to a plate or serve from the bottom of the pan) and slice with a sharp knife.

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Comments

  1. Audrey Amaro says

    MMMM!! My mouth is watering!! I guess I'm making bread bowls and cheesecake on Sunday after my race!! Delicious!!

  2. bttrflybabydoll says

    Blueberry cheesecake is one of my favorite things! I made two cheesecakes for my brother in law's birthday last year, and I had big cracks in the top. I was told that I should have had a water bath in the oven to prevent that. I'd never heard that over beating could cause it. That's a good possibility with me. If a recipe says to not over beat, I have to pay close attention because I will!

    Thanks for the tip!