Rich and Creamy Cheesecake

Rich and Creamy Cheesecake

Cheesecake is something that has always made me nervous. I think it has something to do with the idea of a water bath, the potential for huge cracks, and the stories you hear of failed cheesecakes. I’ve made one in my life before this one and it was covered with blueberries so it didn’t matter if there was a huge crack in it. But when my mother-in-law specially requested cheesecake for her birthday I knew it was time to figure it out.

Honestly, the process was intimidating. I put all that hard work into the cheesecake, and then you’re asking me to put it into a pan filled with boiling water? It definitely wasn’t a perfect experience. The water leaked into the bottom of the cheesecake (see the recipe below for a solution to this!) and I took polls of my friends as to how much they thought the water leakage would hurt the final outcome. I was afraid to take the sides of the springform pan off to check and I went to bed that night convinced that it had been a failure and I would have to buy a cheesecake in the morning.

Rich and Creamy Cheesecake

Imagine my relief when the cheesecake actually came out perfectly! Not only did it look beautiful, but it tasted absolutely amazing. It was rich and creamy with a mellow lemon flavoring.  I would recommend this to anyone as their first cheesecake, and I think it’s good enough to be your go-to recipe. I served it with a black raspberry coulis on top and the tart black raspberries paired perfectly with the sweet cheesecake. Does anyone else want a cheesecake for their birthday? I’m already looking for an excuse to make this again!

Rich and Creamy Cheesecake

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Rich and Creamy Cheesecake

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp graham cracker crumbs
2 lbs cream cheese
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp lemon zest from 1 small lemon, minced
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line bottom of 9-inch springform pan with foil, tuck foil underneath pan bottom, assemble pan, then pull foil around side of pan. (*I'm not sure this is a necessary step, but I left it in just in case!) Brush bottom and sides with butter. Sprinkle crumbs over bottom. Tilt pan in all directions to coat evenly with crumbs. Cover pan underneath and along sides with sheet of heavy-duty foil (*An alternative to this is to use an oven bag, like for baking ham, and wrap it around the outside of the pan, leaving the top exposed. This is what I'll try in the future) and set in large roasting pan. Bring kettle of water to boil for water bath.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat on medium speed until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down after each addition. (If you don't scrape down the bowl after each egg it could cause lumps in your batter.) Add zest and vanilla and beat until just incorporated. Stir in the cream and sour cream.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set roasting pan on oven rack and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan (illustration 2, below). Bake until perimeter of cake is set, but center jiggles like Jell-O when pan is tapped, 55 to 60 minutes. Turn off heat and leave oven door ajar, using a long-handled kitchen fork or spoon to hold it open for 1 hour longer. Remove springform pan from water bath and set on wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours. (Can be refrigerated up to 4 days.)

For the black raspberry coulis, I simply blended some black raspberries until completely smooth. I added sugar to taste and water until I got the consistency I wanted. I strained the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to get the seeds out and refrigerated until ready to serve. It was similar to this recipe for a strawberry coulis.

from Cooks Illustrated

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23 Responses to “Rich and Creamy Cheesecake”

  1. 1

    Diana @ frontyardfoodie — March 4, 2011 @ 5:44 am

    I get nervous just thinking about cheesecake….waterbath, the thought of not achieving the glorious creaminess, fear of following a recipe..but maybe I should just hunker down and do it. Because you just made me crave it.

  2. 2

    Lauren at Keep It Sweet — March 4, 2011 @ 11:16 am

    Great job getting a crack-free cheesecake! Water baths are definitely worth the extra work.

  3. 3

    Jessica @ How Sweet — March 4, 2011 @ 11:43 am

    Ooooh it looks beautiful! And cheesecake is my favorite dessert. Swoon.

  4. 4

    Kim — March 4, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

    That looks so CREAMY!

  5. 5

    MIss @ Miss in the Kitchen — March 4, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

    Beautiful! There's no food I love more than cheesecake!

  6. 6

    marla — March 4, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

    I love blueberry sauce with a great cheesecake – especially when it can cover those cracks :)

  7. 7

    Elle — March 4, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

    Wow, so happy that the leaking water didn't ruin it–it's a gorgeous cheesecake!

  8. 8

    Tracey — March 4, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

    Cheesecake scares me too – I've had the issue with the water leaking in a few times too. Looks like yours turned out perfectly!

  9. 9

    Jennifurla — March 4, 2011 @ 7:54 pm

    No kidding, it is one of the most perfect I have seen.

  10. 10

    Happy When Not Hungry — March 5, 2011 @ 12:10 am

    So creamy and delicious… this looks amazing!

  11. 11

    Shawn @ I Wash...You Dry — March 5, 2011 @ 1:08 am

    Wow, that looks perfect! Yeee-ummm!!

  12. 12

    SavoringTime in the Kitchen — March 5, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

    I love a good, creamy cheesecake! Delicious! I'll have some of your pork carnitas first and then this for desert ;)

  13. 13

    something good — March 5, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

    great idea & superb photos!

  14. 14

    Eliana — March 6, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

    I remember being so nervous when I made my first cheesecake. But I don't remember it looking as good as this! Looks and sounds so delicious.

  15. 15

    smalltownoven — March 7, 2011 @ 1:43 am

    I want cheesecake for my birthday! Cheesecake scares me too but I always top it with fruit to hide the imperfections. This looks gorgeous!

  16. 16

    Jenn — March 7, 2011 @ 3:42 am

    I made my first real cheesecake the other day too! Such a long process, but well worth the wait. Yours looks so smooth on top. Nice job!

  17. 17

    Jenn — March 7, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

    Looks absolutely lovely and delicious, Megan!

  18. 18

    brandi — March 8, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

    that looks perfect! I was always scared of cheesecake and the water bath and the idea of it cracking down the middle, but it wasn't so bad when I made it for the first time! And I think it gets better each time I try :)

  19. 19

    gracemarie — March 10, 2011 @ 3:00 am

    We've made that recipe for several years, and we LOVE it! What we like to do is make the dense and firm version of that cheesecake recipe, swirl blackberry jam in the cheesecake before you put it in the oven, and sprinkle it with chocolate chips.. then into the oven it goes! It tends to crack, but it's still really pretty, and it's SOOO yummy, nobody seems to mind!

  20. 20

    wordflux — March 10, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

    Your cheesecake looks absolutely perfect. Rich and creamy are the words and the black raspberry coulis combines divine! Great birthday cake your mother-in-law had!

  21. 21

    megan @ whatmegansmaking — March 14, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

    gracemarie – Thanks for the comment! Great idea on the dense and firm cheesecake – I need to try that!

  22. 22

    LaRae — March 18, 2011 @ 2:46 am

    I made this cheesecake last night and my family enjoyed it today! It was so easy and very delicious!! I just had to feature you and this recipe on my blog! I hope you don't mind. Please check it out. http://www.laraescraftycorner.blogspot.com Thanks!!

  23. 23

    megan @ whatmegansmaking — March 29, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

    LaRae – I'm so glad you liked this cheesecake! Thanks for taking the time to let me know how it turned out :)

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