It was no easy journey coming to what I now believe is the perfect cheesecake recipe. I was duped time and time again by recipes claiming to be the best, the ultimate, the pinnacle of cheesecakes. A graveyard of fallen pies lies behind me- some were as dense as chalk; others had a center like watered-down pudding; many were marred by cracks in their surfaces. Is it presumptuous to say that I’ve now found the one, that I hold the holy grail of all cheesecake recipes? Maybe. But try it; you’ll see.
There are many components that can make up the filling of a cheesecake. Cream cheese and sour cream are essential to any recipe, but I’ve personally also toyed with ricotta, cottage cheese, mascarpone, heavy cream and in one unfortunate incident, tofu. I’ve come to believe that there is a time and a place for healthy ingredients, but cheesecake is not one of them. This recipe ditches all attempts at healthier alternatives and goes straight for the good stuff- cream cheese and sour cream (however, feel free to work with lower fat versions of these two). Drizzle a little homemade blueberry sauce on top and call it a day.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes + 2 hours cooling + overnight refrigeration
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes (active)
2 cups (30 squares) finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 pound (2 8-ounce blocks) cream cheese, softened
1 pint sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint blueberries
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Mix all the ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl, using a fork, until well combined.
2. Pour 1/3 of the crumbs into the springform pan and use your hands or the bottom of a glass to press them into an even layer along the bottom and sides of the pan. Repeat with the remaining 2/3 of the crumbs, until your crust is about 1-inch up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
3. Beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer on medium speed until it is smooth and free of lumps. Add in the sour cream and lemon zest and continue mixing until just combined.
4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure that there are no remaining lumps of cream cheese at the bottom. Gradually add in the sugar. The batter should be well-mixed and smooth but not overbeaten.
5. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared crust and tap the pan firmly on the counter a few times to smooth the surface of the batter.
6. Start boiling approximately 6 cups of water. Tear off a large square of aluminum foil and place the pan in its center. Crinkle up the sides until they are firmly folded around the pan; then, repeat with another sheet of foil. This will help the pan to stay watertight as the cheesecake bakes.
7. Place the wrapped springform pan into a large roasting pan and place in the oven. Carefully pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, making sure it doesn’t splash into the batter.
8. Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle in the pan after it’s cooked, but it will firm up in the refrigerator. Leave the oven door ajar and allow it to cool in the oven for about an hour and then on the counter for another hour. (TIP: if you’re short on time, you can skip cooling it on the counter.) This gradual cooling process will prevent any cracks from forming in the surface of the cheesecake. Loosely cover the pan and place it in the refrigerator to chill overnight or for at least 4 hours.
9. Run a small knife or thin spatula around the edge of the cheesecake and carefully remove the side of the pan.
10. For the blueberry compote, place the unwashed blueberries, lemon juice and zest and sugar into a small saucepan and cook on medium heat. Stir occasionally until the fruit has begun to break down and the dark purple sauce starts to thicken. Allow it to cool slightly.
11. Slice the cheesecake into wedges, drizzle the warm blueberry compote on top and enjoy!
Inspired by Tyler’s Florence’s Ultimate Cheesecake
For Vão, my katana-wielding best friend
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