In honor of National Cheesecake Day, instead of following the hordes to Cheesecake Factory for a $1.50 slice today, make your own!
Cheesecake is one of the ultimate comfort foods, and this recipe is the definitive version of that classic treat: Rich, with a decadently silky texture, and just a hint of lemon to enliven the creamy cheese filling. Best if all, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make:
For the Crust
1 1/2 cups fine graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
1 pound cream cheese (organic if possible) softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar (organic if possible)
6 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups sour cream (organic if possible)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 x 2 1/2-inch or higher spring form pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Press this mixture into the base of the prepared pan and partway up the sides, using your fingers or the back of a spoon. Use a flat-bottomed glass to press the crumbs smoothly and firmly into place. Wrap the outside of the pan in a double layer of heavy aluminum foil to prevent leaking.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until very smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the egg yolks, beating until the batter is smooth and scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and beat until incorporated. Beat in the sour cream just until blended.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Set the pan inside a larger pan (a 12- x 12-inch cake pan, for example) and surround it with 1 inch of very hot water. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.
5. Turn off the oven without opening the door and let the cake cool for 1 hour inside. Transfer the cheesecake to a rack (the center will still be jiggly) and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least six hours or overnight.
Adapted from Comfort Food, from The Best of Fine Cooking (Taunton Press, 2004).