The Ultimate Cheesecake

It seems like everybody we know has a birthday in March. For our latest birthday celebration we decided to try our hand at baking another cake. You may remember our first foray into baking ended in a success (see our Flourless Chocolate Cake) This time we picked out a cheesecake recipe. You would be surprised with how many different variations and types of cheese cake recipes there are floating around on the internet. We wanted to stick to a more traditional cheesecake, so we chose a recipe with a graham cracker crust topped with fresh berries. This recipe comes from Tyler Florence, who is our favorite celebrity chef. We had an opportunity to meet him a few years ago and he is super nice.  He also happens to have all of the best recipes. We have made multiple recipes of his and they all turned out perfect.   If you follow his directions your bound to have a great dish.

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 30 squares)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Filing:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 dash vanilla extract

Warm Lemon Blueberry & Strawberry Topping:

  • 1 pint mix of blueberries & strawberries
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minute

For the Filling:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps.
  2.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. 
  3. The batter should be well mixed but not over-beaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  4. Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake for 45 minutes. 
  5. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. 

Topping:

  1. In a small saucepan add all the ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so until the fruit begins to break down slightly. Leave to cool before spreading on cheesecake.
  2. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. 
  3. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate. Using a spatula to spread topping over the surface.

Results:

As expected with a Tyler Florence recipe this cake was a hit. The cake was nice and creamy and the berry topping was the perfect complement. The crust was sweet and crunchy and was by far our favorite part of this cake. The crust turned out so well because we decided to use Honey Maid Honey Graham Crackers instead of plain graham crackers. The honey graham crackers have a bit more sweetness to them and that flavor really comes through in the crust.  One thing we will say is you may need to cook your cake at a slightly higher temperature than listed in the recipe, we cooked ours at 350 degrees and left it in a bit longer. Unlike other typical cakes, cheesecake does not fully set until it is chilled. As a result you are not going to have a completely solid cake right out of the oven. 

Should Or Should Not Eat: 

This is a very good cheesecake recipe, simple but flavorful. We our putting it in our Should Eat section. Tyler Florence does it again.