When Seth told me he wanted a cheesecake for his birthday cake I was a little stressed out. Cheesecakes are notorious for being finicky… there’s the water bath, the cracking, and who knows what other things could go wrong. And when you’re using 2 1/2 pounds of cream cheese, you don’t want to screw up. Which is why I went to my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook to find a “foolproof” recipe. I was so happy to see that not only was this incredibly easy to make, it baked up perfectly with no cracks and didn’t even require a water bath! Wahoo! I will definitely be making this cheesecake again. It was a big hit with the birthday crowd.
New York Cheesecake
Makes one 9-inch cheesecake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes plus 5 hours and 30 minutes cooling time
When cutting the cake, have a pitcher of hot tap water ready; dipping the blade of the knife into the water and wiping if after each slice helps make clean slices. If grinding your own graham cracker crumbs for the crust, you will need about 8 crackers.
- 1 1 /4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch 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, at room temperature
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1. For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the graham crumbs, melted butter, and sugar together, then pour 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 cool on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.
2. For the filling: Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until softened, 1 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beaters thoroughly.
3. Beat in half of the sugar and the salt until incorporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in the remaining sugar until incorporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla until incorporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, two at a time, until incorporated, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed, 1 to 3 minutes.
4. Being careful not to disturb the baked crust, brush the sides of the springform pan with the melted butter. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 10 minutes.
5. Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees, about 1 hour and 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
6. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and run a paring knife around the edge of the cake. Let cool until barely warm, 2 1 /2 to 3 hours, running a paring knife around the edge of the cake every hour or so. Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.
7. To unmold the cheesecake, wrap a wet, hot kitchen towel around the springform pan and let sit for 1 minute. Remove the sides of the pan. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.
America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Third Edition
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
2 cups blueberries (or other berries, fresh or frozen)
In a 2-qt. saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; gradually stir in water. Add blueberries; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Serve warm or cold over french toast, pancakes, waffles, or dessert of your choice.