My grandmother's cheesecake has always been the stuff of family legend. Over the holidays I tried making it myself for the first time. The miraculous results lived up to the family hype, so I ended up making it several more times. It was the first cheesecake I've ever baked, yet each time I made it - whether in full-size or miniature form - I never found so much as a single crack! No water baths or other fancy tricks needed. (Though my picture isn't particularly beautiful, it is a testament to this recipe's no-cracks magical powers.)
Though the amount of cream cheese required is not for the faint of heart, the finished product is not outrageously heavy, and has a great citrusy flavor. Enjoy! —sm0215
one 10" cheesecake
For the crust
crushed graham crackers or vanilla wafers
lemon juice (can substitute with 2 tsps grated lemon peel)
Crush the graham crackers or vanilla wafers (depending on your taste preference - both versions are delicious!) with a rolling pin. Put them in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, lemon juice (or peel) and sugar; mix well.
Add the butter/lemon/sugar mix to the crushed graham crackers/wafers.
Press the crust mixture into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 10" springform pan. I prefer to line the pan with parchment paper instead of buttering it before adding the crust.
For the filling
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Beat the heavy cream until fluffy. Set aside. (I put it in the refrigerator to keep it chilled.)
Combine the sugar, flour, lemon peel, salt and vanilla.
Empty the cream cheese into a separate, large bowl. Slowly blend the combined ingredients from step two into the cream cheese. (If you don't have a stand mixer or hand mixer, it can be done manually with a lot of elbow grease and patience, but be sure to let the cream cheese soften at room temperature beforehand!)
Add first the eggs, then the yolks, to the cream cheese mixture, one at a time. Beat the mixture well after adding each egg/yolk.
Gently stir the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until just blended.
Add the cream cheese mixture to the crust inside your springform pan. This quantity of filling should fill the crust all the way to the top edge.
Bake the cake at 500 degrees for 5-8 minutes, or until you can see the top edge of the crust turning golden.
Reduce the heat to 200 degrees. Bake the cake for another 60-75 minutes. The cooking time can of course vary based on the size and efficiency of the oven you're using, but the done cheesecake should be relatively firm to the touch.
Cool the cheesecake in the springform pan at least 3 hours prior to serving (I've found putting it in the refrigerator overnight is ideal). Remove the edges of the pan and serve!