Tall and Creamy Cheesecake
For the crust (omit the crust for Passover or see above):
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream
To make the crust:
1. Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don't worry if the sides are not perfectly even.
3. Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
To make the cheesecake:
1. Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
2. Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a smaller pan or a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.)
3. Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn oven to 200 degrees and bake for 1 hour 30 mins or until cheesecake is not jiggly (I baked it for almost 2 hours).
4. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack. Once cool, remove cheesecake from springform pan. (I kept the cheesecake in the pan while chilling overnight - this helps it from sticking or falling apart)
5. When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.
6. Serve with macerated strawberries (see below), blueberry sauce (see below), chocolate sauce, canned cherry or blueberry pie filling or whatever you like on your cheesecake .. or just plain.
Macerated strawberries: To bring out the full flavor of strawberries, place hulled and sliced berries in a bowl and sprinkle with granulated white sugar (about 2 tablespoons (28 grams) per pint). Let the berries and sugar macerate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract