Start to Finish: 8 1/2 hours
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
The addition of sour cream to cheesecake batter helps produce a creamy and slightly tangy dessert. Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking, this recipe produces a plain but luxuriously rich cheesecake. For an extra boost of flavor or to cover any cracks that develop during baking, opt to coat the finished cheesecake with a sweetened sour cream topping.
- 2 cups finely crushed graham crackers
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces sour cream
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoons almond extract (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray; set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until evenly moistened. Pour into the base of the prepared pan. Use a spatula or the base of a cup to press the crust evenly across the bottom and halfway up the sides.
Bake the crust for 15 to 17 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
In a food processor, pulse the cream cheese, sugar and salt for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the side of the bowl twice. The mixture should be completely smooth -- once the other ingredients are added, you will be unable to remove any lumps.
Add the sour cream and heavy cream to the bowl and pulse for 20 to 30 seconds, until creamy and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, pulsing after each addition for 5 to 10 seconds until just incorporated. Pour in the vanilla and almond extracts and pulse for 10 seconds to blend.
Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared crust. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, until the edges are set but the center remains slightly wobbly.
Remove the pan to a cooling rack. Immediately run a thin knife or a small spatula around the edge of the cheesecake, pressing into the rim of the pan to prevent cutting into the cake. Allow the cheesecake to sit at room temperature for 1 hour, or until completely cool.
Cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap and chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours before serving.
- If you prefer to use a stand mixer, you must take care not to whip extra air into the batter. Bring the cream cheese and eggs to room temperature before mixing, use the paddle attachment and mix the minimum amount possible to completely combine the ingredients. Too much air in the batter will create a finished texture closer to a souffle and result in a collapsed cheesecake with cracks in the center.
- Check your oven's temperature with a thermometer before baking the cheesecake. Even a few degrees too high may cause the dessert to dry out and crack. If the temperature is off, adjust accordingly to reach the desired 325 F.
- Do not rush the cooling process by transferring the cheesecake into the refrigerator too early; this will result in rapid contraction, causing cracks.
- Resist the temptation to bake the cheesecake until it appears completely set. The center will continue to cook once removed from the oven, so it must be underdone and jiggly when taken out.
- The cheesecake will keep for up to four days in the refrigerator when covered tightly with plastic wrap. For longer storage, freeze the cheesecake for 1 hour, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap twice, followed by once with aluminum foil. Return to the freezer for up to one month. Simply thaw the cheesecake in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
- For a double feature of sour cream, add a sweetened topping. Once the cheesecake has cooled for an hour, preheat the oven to 425 F. Mix 1 1/2 cups sour cream and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl. Spread the mixture over the top of the cheesecake and bake for 5 minutes. Cool completely, chill in the refrigerator and serve as usual.
- Fold in 1/2 to 3/4 cups chocolate chunks or toffee bits to the batter just before pouring into the crust.
- After mixing the filling, stir 4 ounces melted bittersweet chocolate into 1 cup of batter. Layer the two batters in four layers, beginning with the plain filling. Swirl a knife through the batter several times to create a marbled cheesecake. Bake as usual.
- Add 2 tablespoons each of fresh citrus zest and juice to the batter instead of the extracts.
- Top the cheesecake with fresh raspberries, strawberries or blackberries.
- Bring 1/2 cup heavy cream to just below a simmer, pour over 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Cool and then spread the ganache over the top of the cheesecake.
- Serve the cheesecake with fresh whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel.
- The Art and Soul of Baking; Cindy Mushet; 2008
- Photo Credit Lynn Bendickson/Hemera/Getty Images
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