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.
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!
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
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