A creamy, silky cheesecake is the ultimate dessert for any occasion. This classic recipe is so easy to make, you can easily serve it to friends or family at any time of year. The recipe is also a great base to customize with different toppings and flavors. This simple recipe for cheesecake has a crumbly graham cracker crust and a rich cream cheese filling. It is baked in a springform pan using a water bath so the rich filling cooks gently, which helps prevent cracks and browning on the edges. Adding lemon zest and juice to the filling gives it a refreshing flavor that helps balance out the richness. You can serve this classic cheesecake with berries or a fruit sauce for a light, summery dessert.
This cheesecake recipe is adapted from Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2. It is very similar to the original Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, but with a few tweaks. This version is based on New York style cheesecake, which has more cream cheese than regular cheesecake, giving it a denser texture. It also has eggs, which help the cheesecake to hold together and give it a smooth, silky consistency. This version also uses less sugar, which gives it a lighter, more delicate taste and texture.
To make the cheesecake, start by making the graham cracker crust. Mix graham cracker crumbs with some cinnamon and butter or oil. Press the crumbs into the bottom of a springform pan and wrap with foil. Set aside.
Next, make the cheesecake filling. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Beat at low speed until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Finally, add the eggs and mix until just incorporated. The eggs should not be beaten to a fluffy texture because over-beating can create air bubbles in the batter, which can lead to cracks in the finished cheesecake.
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Before baking, prepare a roasting pan or another large oven-safe dish by filling it with boiling water. Once the oven is preheated, carefully lower the cheesecake into the water bath and bake for 12 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake until the top turns golden, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before preparing the topping.
Once the cheesecake has cooled, spread the sour cream topping over the cake. Cover and chill the cheesecake at least 4 hours before serving. This cheesecake can be frozen, but it is important to wrap it very tightly before freezing to ensure that no moisture gets into the cake during thawing.
This cheesecake is best served with a fruit sauce or berries, but it’s also delicious with a drizzle of caramel sauce on the side. You can also garnish the slices with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and/or some fresh berries or whipped cream on top. If you want to cut even, clean slices, then use a warm knife dipped in hot water before each slice.