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Author Notes: 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
Makes one 10" cheesecake
For the crust
- 2 cups crushed graham crackers or vanilla wafers
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (can substitute with 2 tsps grated lemon peel)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 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
- 32 ounces cream cheese (four 8 oz packages)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 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!