It is hard to describe a recipe as “perfect”, especially for a recipe such as cheesecake, for which so many have their own personal favourite. But, this is simply the best, most wonderful cheesecake I have ever had, and have ever made. It is based on a master recipe, from the master of baking herself, Dorie Greenspan.
It is dense, rich, and light at the same time, and serves a small army. But watch out—just when you think you’ve made enough for your gathering, so many people will go back for seconds that you may be left without a piece!
Beautiful, classic cheesecake, tangy and sweet, with a velvety smooth and rich texture.
2 cups of Graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp sugar
5 Tbsp unsalted butter (if using salted butter, omit the pinch of salt), melted
2 pounds cream cheese room temperature
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 ounces fresh raspberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
Special equipment needed
9-inch, 2 3/4-inch high springform pan
Heavy-duty, 18-inch wide aluminum foil
A large, high-sided roasting pan
Prepare the crust
1 Prepare the springform pan so that no water leaks into it while cooking. Place a large 18-inch by 18-inch square of heavy duty aluminum foil on a flat surface. Place the springform pan in the middle of the foil. Gently fold up the sides of the foil around the pan. Make sure to do this gently so that you don’t create any holes in the foil. If there are any holes, water will get into the pan and ruin the crust. Press the foil around the edges of the pan. Place a second large square of foil underneath the pan, and repeat, gently folding up the sides of the foil around the pan and pressing the foil against the pan. To be triply safe, repeat with a third layer of heavy duty foil. Gently crimp the top of the foil sheets around the top edge of the pan.
2 Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in lower third of oven. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Put in a large bowl, and stir in the sugar and salt. Use your (clean) hands to stir in the melted butter.
3 Put all but 1/4 cup of the graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of the springform pan. (Save the remaining 1/4 cup for if you happen to have any holes that need to be filled in, either while you are making the crust, or after the cake has cooked and you’ve unmolded it.) Gently press down on the crumbs using your fingers, until the crumbs are a nice even layer at the bottom of the pan, with maybe just a slight rise along the inside edges of the pan. Be careful as you do this, as not to tear the aluminum foil. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
Make the filling
4 Cut the cream cheese into chunks and place in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes until smooth, soft and creamy. Add the sugar, beat for 4 minutes more. Add the salt and vanilla, beating after each addition. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Add the sour cream, beat until incorporated. Add the heavy cream, beat until incorporated. Remember to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl, and scrape up any thicker bits of cream cheese that have stuck to the bottom of the mixer that paddle attachment has failed to incorporate.
Cook the cheesecake
5 Place the foil-wrapped springform pan in a large, high-sided roasting pan. Prepare 2 quarts of boiling water. Pour the cream cheese filling into the springform pan, over the graham cracker bottom layer. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Place the roasting pan with the springform pan in it, in the oven, on the lower rack. Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan (without touching the hot oven), to create a water bath for the cheesecake, pouring until the water reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan, about 1 1/4 inches. (Alternatively you can add the water before putting the pan in the oven, whichever is easier for you.) Cook at 325°F for 1 1/2 hours.
6 Turn off the heat of the oven. Crack open the oven door 1-inch, and let the cake cool in the oven, as the oven cools, for another hour. This gentle cooling will help prevent the cheesecake surface from cracking.
7 Cover the top of the cheesecake with foil, so that it doesn’t actually touch the cheesecake. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight.
Prepare sour cream topping
8 Place sour cream in a medium sized bowl, stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla, until smooth. Chill until you are ready to serve the cake.
Note that this recipe produces enough sour cream topping for a thick topping and some extra to spoon over individual pieces of cheesecake, if desired. If you would like a thinner layer of topping and no extra, reduce the sour cream topping ingredients in half.
Prepare the raspberry sauce
9 Place raspberries, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Use a potato masher to mash the raspberries. Heat on medium, whisking, about 5 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Let cool.
Prepare the cake to serve
10 Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Remove the foil from the sides of the pan, and place the cake on your cake serving dish. Run the side of a blunt knife between the edge of the cake and the pan. Dorie recommends, and we’ve done with success, that you use a hair dryer to heat the sides of the pan to make it easier to remove. Open the springform latch and gently open the pan and lift up the sides. Spread the top with the sour cream mixture. Serve plain or drizzled with raspberry sauce.
I didn’t do the topping in this recipe, I used Cherry Pie filling.
This is the cherry pie filling recipe you have been looking for. The one exactly like the pie filling you buy in the can, but better, because you know what is in it, and made it yourself.
4 cups pitted sour cherries fresh and pitted, then frozen and drained
2 cup cherry juice (I got more than 2 cups when my frozen cherries thawed)
⅓ cup cornstarch
⅓ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla
Thaw cherries, and hang in sieve over a bowl for a couple hours to separate cherries from juice
Blend cornstarch with both sugars; place juice in a medium saucepan, and whisk in dry ingredients as you sprinkle them over the juice via a sieve
At medium-low heat, stir until thickened and clear; mixture will be very thick
Add strained cherries, stirring constantly to bring mixture back to a boil: 1-2 minutes (it won’t really boil, but will just plop-plop for a minute or two as you continue to stir constantly)
Remove from heat immediately as cherries are tender should not be overcooked
Stir in almond and vanilla; pour into canning jar
Cool to room temperature
Freeze pie filling, process it to make shelf stable, or store in fridge for 2-3 weeks in tightly sealed container
I measure my cherries every year, after pitting, into 2 cup bags for freezing. Therefore, I know I have 4 cups of cherries and the juice from the frozen cherries is necessary for this filling. You will find you have about 2½ cups juice. Don’t even think about putting the extra juice into the recipe