What is better than a slice of dense, creamy cheesecake? Literally almost nothing! This is my most favorite cheesecake recipe ever, it’s one that my mother-in-law has been baking since my husband was itty-bitty. She has no recollection of where she first came across this recipe but let me tell you, it is TO DIE FOR. It’s rich, dense and has amazing flavor! The best part? It’s also super easy to make!
This go around I baked my cheesecake with a scrumptious, sugary Graham Cracker Crust but in the past I’ve also used an Oreo™ cookie crust which is equally delicious. When I use the Oreo crust I always cover the whole cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache and than top it with crushed Oreo™ cookies. For this version however, I kept it simple and did just a light coating of ganache on just the top.
Cheesecake is a great dessert because you can make it so many ways from a large cake to small, individual servings. Top it will fudge, fresh fruit, ganache, crushed cookies or anything else you can think of! Some people like to serve cheesecake at room temp but I love it ice cold out of the fridge, I feel that it’s more dense that way and I’m just not a fan of mushy, warm cheesecake. However you choose to serve it jut follow a few simple tips and your cheesecake is sure to be a hit!
- Pre-bake your crust
- Always start with room temperature ingredients, this prevents a lumpy batter.
- Don’t scrimp, always use full fat cream cheese.
- Add a little starch to help avoid cracking and to make slicing easier.
- Mix on low and don’t overbeat the batter, incorporating too much air into the batter will ruin the texture of the cheesecake.
- Use a water bath to create a steamy environment which develops a smooth, creamy cheesecake. To create a water bath, wrap the bottom of a springform pan in tin foil and place the cheesecake directly in a pan of water before putting in the oven. Alternatively, place a pan of water in the oven on the rack below the cheesecake. Both will generate steam while baking.
- No peeking! Don’t open the oven door while baking.
- Don’t overbake the cheesecake, take it out when the edges look done and the center is still slightly jiggly.
- Before leaving the cheesecake to cool in the oven, take it out and run a thin offset spatula or knife around the edge to loosen it from the sides of the pan. This will help to prevent cracking as the cheesecake cools and pulls away from the pan.
- Cool the cheesecake gradually letting in sit in the turned off oven with the door cracked open, then let it cool completely on the stovetop.
- ALWAYS chill your cheesecake for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
- If the top cracks, don’t panic! A simple sour cream frosting, chocolate ganache, or even fruit will hide all sins.
- Graham Cracker Crust
- 5 (8 oz) packs of cream cheese
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 tbs all-purpose flour
- 1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 5 large eggs + 2 yolks
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Pre-bake your crust in a 10″ springform pan for 7-8 minutes at 350ºF. Set aside to cool slightly.
Add the softened, room temperature cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low until smooth, about a minute. Add the sugar and flour, mix. Once the dry ingredients have been combined, add in the vanilla, almond, and heavy cream. Mix until smooth then add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low after each addition. Continue to mix on low speed until the batter is shiny and smooth. Grease the sides of the springform pan that holds the crust, pour the batter in and smooth the top.
Place the cheesecake in a water bath and bake at 500ºF for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 250ºF and bake for about an hour or until the edges are baked and the center is slightly jiggly.
Once the cheesecake is done baking turn off the oven and remove the cheesecake, run an offset spatula or knife around the edge to loosen the sides from the pan. Place the cheesecake back in the warm oven (not in the water bath) with the door slightly open and cool for about an hour. Remove from oven and cool completely on the stovetop. Chill in the fridge for at least 6 house, preferably overnight. Enjoy!