Happy day after Labor Day! I love a long weekend…like really love it. Yesterday around 4:00 Naaman mentioned that he was craving cheesecake…so I of course ran out to the store later to get the ingredients to make a delicious cheesecake. He was funny – he was like “Seriously, you don’t have to make it,” but we both knew that wasn’t going to happen. As soon as he mentioned the word “cheesecake”, it’s all I could think about!
I followed this recipe from Gourmet Magazine. And let me just tell you this – this recipe is great: it’s rich, thick, dense, smooth, creamy…just the way I think a cheesecake should taste. When I was looking for a recipe I avoid any recipes that call for sour cream in the filling – I feel like those recipes result it a lighter filling – while tasty, it’s not the way I like my cheesecake.
So yes…this recipe calls for 5 bricks of cheesecake, 5 eggs, 2 egg yolks, lemon zest, vanilla, and sugar. It’s not a light cheesecake recipe…and that’s exactly why it is so delicious. Like, seriously delicious. Not in the picture: salt – you’ll want to add a pinch of salt to the crust.
Ok – also to note: I don’t like a graham cracker crust – I know that’s the traditional crust for cheesecake – but I’ve never liked it especially. I do, however, love a shortbread crust – so I choose to go with Nilla wafer cookies instead of graham crackers. Use whatever you prefer – but I recommend Nilla wafers.
First things first – melt 1 stick of butter in the microwave – about 30 seconds. While that’s melting – it’s time to crush up the Nilla wafers into a fine consistency. The box is a total of 11 ounces – I used about 8.5 ounces – I like the crust to come up about half way up the side of the cheesecake. I used a large (12 cup) food processor for this entire recipe – if you don’t have a food processor – place the cookies in a large plastic Ziploc baggie and smash with a rolling pin.
Mix the butter and ¼ c. of sugar into the crumbs – dump into a 9” springform pan – and then, using a 1/3 c. measuring cup, and evenly spread the mixture into the springboard pan – using the measuring cup helps you get a sturdy base.
Place pan with cookie crust into a 350 degree preheated oven for 5 minutes.
While that’s in the oven I cleaned my food processor and got my cream cheese ready. Why did I have to get it ready? Because it was ice cold and I needed to make the cream cheese room temperature to ensure that it would be a smooth cheesecake. So – here’s a great tip – place all of the cream cheese bricks into a large-ish microwave proof bowl, and heat the cream cheese at 30 second intervals – each 30 second interval stir the cream cheese around and repeat until it reaches a room temperature consistency. This is a must if you want a smooth cheesecake.
Ok – remove the pan from the oven – and boost the heat of the oven to 550 degrees. Which btw made me incredibly nervous to do that! I debated for a while if I should follow the recipe – then decided to go for it b/c that’s the only way I’d know. So – high high heat….
While the oven is warming up – it’s time to complete the filling. Blend the cream cheese to create a super smooth consistency. Then add in 1 ¾ cups of white sugar. Blend again until smooth. Then add in the 3 T. of flour – blend again until smooth. At this point – make sure you scrape the sides and bottom of the food processor (or bowl if you are using a mixer). This will help you avoid streaks of cream cheese in your mixture.
Now pour the mixture into the springform pan – place pan on a baking sheet to catch the drippings from the butter in the crust, and place into the super-hot oven. Set your timer to 12 minutes – and watch the cheesecake to make sure it’s not browning too quickly. Mine did – so next time I think that I would reduce it to 9 minutes – but I wanted to follow the original instructions so I kept it to 12.
After your timer goes off, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees – and set your timer to 50 minutes. I checked mine at 50 and it was done – you want the center of your cheesecake to be slightly wobbly – so when you shake the pan it moves – but not liquid-ey. Note: my top was pretty dark – which is why next time I will reduce the time it spends in the oven at 550 degrees – but the rest of the cake was perfect…it just looked dark on top.
Modifications from original recipe: used 8.5 ounces of nilla wafers instead of graham crackers, increased the butter in the crust – used 2 lemons for zest…not 1 lemon and 1 orange, and used 1. t of vanilla. Other than that everything was the same. It’s a great recipe. Thanks Gourmet Magazine!
8.5 ounces Nilla wafers
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c. sugar
pinch of salt
5 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 stick of unsalted butter in a small dish. Place 8.5 ounces of Nilla wafers into food processor and process until fine crumb. Add the melted butter and ¼ c. white sugar, blend until fully blended. Pour crumbs into springform pan and use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to press the crumbs against the side and bottom of the pan. Bake for 5 minutes, remove and all to cool.
- Preheat oven to 550°F.
- In a food processor, blend the cream cheese to create a smooth consistency. Then blend together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend the flour until smooth. At this point use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of your bowl to ensure that all of the cream cheese is getting incorporated.
- Add eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, then vanilla and lemon zest – blend to super smooth.
- Pour filling into crust (springform pan will be completely full) and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 12 minutes, or until puffed. Reduce temperature to 200°F and continue baking until cake is mostly firm (center will still be slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken), about 50 minutes more.
- Run a knife around top edge of cake to loosen and cool completely in springform pan on a rack. Chill cake, loosely covered, at least 6 hours. Remove side of pan and transfer cake to a plate.