I love cheesecake. Love it. It’s one of my favorite desserts to order when I’m out for dinner. I think my husband loves it more than me, though. He routinely requests it for his birthday and eats it for breakfast. “It’s practically like eating a bagel.”
Given my husband’s love of cheesecake you can bet that I have made A LOT of cheesecakes. This one here is the best one that I have come across. This recipe was first published in Gourmet Magazine, November 1999. I cut it out of the magazine and have used it ever since. It’s really perfect.
What makes it so perfect? It is simple to make. You just whip together the ingredients and then put it in the pan and let the oven do the work.
It also doesn’t require the dreaded water bath. So many other classic recipes require that you wrap your springform pan with foil and then nestle it into the biggest pan you have and pour water around it. Then you have a scaldingly hot, dripping wet cake that you pull out of the oven and have the carry to a cooling rack. Yuck.
With this recipe you end up with a tall, dense cheesecake with hints of a bright citrus flavor.
New York Cheesecake
- 1 packet of graham crackers
- 3 T of butter, melted
- 5, 8-oz packets of cream cheese, softened
- 1 3/4 cups white sugar
- 3 T all-purpose flour
- The zest of 1 lemon
- The zest of 1 orange
- 5 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 550F/288C. (No, I am not kidding.)
Grind up the graham crackers using a food processor. You want them really fine. If you don’t have a food processor don’t use an immersion blender. Bits of graham shrapnel exploded out of my container and flung across the counter top, floor, refrigerator, and into the sink. I even found bits on the kitchen table on the other side of the kitchen island. I will be finding bits of graham for weeks. Instead, use the end of a rolling pin or a mortar to bash it with. That is more effective and cleaner.
When the graham crackers are a nice small size mix them with the melted butter. Get the butter all through the crumbs so that your crust will hold together. Dump them into a large springform pan and spread them out evenly. Take the flat of your hand and press it firmly into the bottom of the pan. Set the pan aside.
Get to unwrapping the cream cheese. All 5 blocks. I swear the 5 blocks are worth it. I couldn’t bring myself to go with full-fat. My ventricles were threatening to slam shut on me at the very thought of all that fat. The 1/3 fat works just as well as the full-fat and then you can pretend you are being healthy.
In a large mixing bowl – preferably an electric mixer because this starts out THICK – beat together all that cream cheese, sugar, flour, and zests until smooth.
Add the egg yolks and beat them in on slow. Then start adding the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. This is important because the eggs are the only leavening agent in this recipe. They must be evenly incorporated to ensure an even rise and a smooth and creamy texture.
Add the vanilla and mix until well blended. Scrape down the bowl and give it a few beats by hand to ensure that everything is completely blended.
Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan with the crust. A 9-inch pan should be almost completely full. Mine is a 10-inch pan so I have about an inch of room at the top. If the pan is absolutely full to the top, put it on top of a cookie sheet or in a pan to catch the drips.
Put the cheesecake in the oven and bake for 12 minutes or until the cheesecake seems puffed up. (Make sure it is puffed in the middle or it will sink in the middle as it cools.) WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN, reduce the temperature to 200F/93C and bake for an additional hour. The middle should be just slightly wobbly when the pan is gently shaken.
Put the cheesecake on a cooling rack. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Let the cheesecake cool completely on the rack and then put it in the refrigerator to chill to at least 6 hours. Keep it loosely covered.
When ready to serve take it out of the refrigerator and let it come up to room temperature (if you can stand it, that is). This is delicious with everything, but we like strawberries in our household. I also recommend trying it with a chocolate or caramel sauce. Or raspberries. Or blueberry compote. Or alone. Or for breakfast with a cup of coffee.
I guarantee this will be the only cheesecake recipe you will ever need. It is tall, dense, and creamy. Plus you can make it one or two days ahead of your party and not have to worry about whipping together a dessert on top of an entire meal!