One of the first recipes I posted on the blog back in 2008 was my mom’s recipe for NY cheesecake. I am sure I am coming across as biased but it is the best cheesecake I have ever had. I’ve made it for years now following my mom’s recipe exactly but this past year I have been making some tweaks to the recipe for my own personal taste and preferences. They are small twists on the original but they make a big difference.
First, I have the graham cracker crust come up the sides of the cheesecake rather than having crust just on the bottom of the cheesecake. Why? Because I like the crust – it’s tasty! Second, I started putting cherry pie filling on top of the cheesecake. This was originally to hide cracks but also satisfied my gigantic sweet tooth. That leads me to my third change – I baked the cheesecake in a water bath – and there were no cracks on top! I didn’t need to put the cherry topping on because the top of the cake was nice and smooth but I think cheesecake tastes better with cherry pie filling so I added it anyway.
I’ve been meaning to play with the flavor profile of the cheesecake to add different dimensions – chocolate, rose water, cinnamon – but I can never bring myself to do that. I just love this cheesecake the way it is. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Here’s the classic recipe with my changes:
Graham Cracker Base (1.5 of the basic recipe on the box)
2 cups Honey Maid Graham Cracker Crumbs
6 tbsp of sugar
7 tbsp margarine, melted
1/2 cup margarine or margarine alternative , room temperature
1 lb cream cheese , room temperature
16 oz sour cream
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 tbsp. corn starch
1 lemon – juiced
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
Comstock Cherry Pie filling (found in the baking aisle at the grocery store)
1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Prepare graham cracker crumbs according to package instructions. Place graham cracker mixture in a spring-form pan. Using the back of a spoon smooth out the graham cracker base along the bottom and sides of the pan. If you have the option to bake or chill the graham cracker mixture opt for baking. After baking the graham cracker crust, set it aside to cool.
2. In a separate bowl mix the cream cheese and sour cream. Add margarine, vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon juice. Combine mixture. (It helps if you let the cream cheese and margarine come to room temperature before mixing)
3. Add 1 egg to cream cheese mixture and blend. Repeat two more times.
4. Add corn starch and sugar to cream cheese batter and mix.
5. Pour cream cheese mixture over graham cracker crust in spring-form pan. Tap on the side of the pan gently to get air bubbles out.
6. Take two pieces of foil and wrap them around the base of the spring-form pan – you want to make a barrier so water does not get into the spring-form pan. Take a deep baking tray that your spring-form pan will fit in. Fill it with water so that it reaches about 1/3 to 1/2 the height of the spring form pan. Place the spring-form pan in the tray and put the tray in the oven.*
7. Bake for an half-hour at 350 degrees. Lower temperature to 325 degrees and bake for another hour. The cheesecake is done when you test the batter with a toothpick or piece of spaghetti and it comes out clean.
8. Remove from oven, set aside and let the cheesecake cool. Once the cake is cool you can add the cherry topping. Chill before serving. Once cool, keep the cheesecake refrigerated.
*I wrapped my spring-form pan and still had a bit of water leakage but it did not affect the cheesecake – if anything it kept the crust moist and prevented it from getting too hard. I’m not sure how it leaked but I think maybe some water may have seeped in when I was walking with the tray. That said, you want to prevent leakage if possible.