New York Cheesecake

New York CheesecakeOur family has so many food traditions that it’s becoming an inside joke.  We have a traditional food for almost every occasion which makes it ironic that we’ve never settled on a “traditional” Christmas Eve dessert.

Every December we make boat-loads of delicious holiday treats (English toffee, fudge,  sugar cookies, brigadeiro, shortbread, ginger snaps, peppermint cake, etc.).  The month of culinary indulgence all culminates on Christmas Eve.

With all the delicious food in my kitchen, I’ve never felt the pressing need, or rather motivation, to create a specific dessert.  However, I always make an attempt (sometimes valiantly and sometimes half-heartedly). This year my kids came through for me and made a suggestion:  New York Cheesecake.  

I was sold. New York cheesecake is not run-of-the-mill cheesecake.  It’s tall, dense, rich and very decadent. It’s a special dessert for a special occasion.  I made it, and my family ate savored devoured gushed-over  LOVED it.  It was so rich and creamy that it could stand alone (no topping necessary), but it was also amazing with toppings.  I liked it best with a handful of ripe berries … super gorgeous, super Christmasy, and super tasty.

I think we found a winner, and that’s how another tradition was born.

New York Cheesecake

New York Cheesecake
Serves 12
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
50 min
Crust Ingredients
  1. 12 whole graham crackers, crushed
  2. 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  3. 3 tablespoons sugar
Cheesecake Ingredients
  1. 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  2. 1 ½ cups sugar
  3. 2/3 cup half and half (or whole milk)
  4. 4 eggs, room temperature
  5. 1 cup sour cream
  6. ¼ cup flour
  7. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  8. fresh berries, chocolate, whipped cream, for toppings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and coat a 9-inch spring form pan with non-stick spray for baking. Wrap the bottom of the pan in foil so that it’s water-proof. Pour 1 inch of water into the bottom of a large baking pan. This will give a little humidity to the baking environment to help prevent cracking.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Add half and half (or milk), and beat until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing just to incorporate. Add sour cream, vanilla, and flour, and beat until smooth. Pour filling on top of crust.
  4. Place baking pan of water into hot oven, and immediately set cheesecake pan in center.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Turn oven off, and let cool with door ajar for 1 hour. This prevents cracking. Remove the whole thing, and allow to cool at room temperature (still in the water bath) for another hour. Then remove cheesecake from water and throw away the foil. Cool completely (another 2-3 hours) before removing from pan. Chill in refrigerator several hours; preferably overnight.
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and coat a 9-inch spring form pan with non-stick spray for baking. Wrap the bottom of the pan in foil so that it’s water-proof.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and coat a 9-inch spring form pan with non-stick spray for baking. Wrap the bottom of the pan in foil so that it’s water-proof.

Pour 1 inch of water into the bottom of a large baking pan. This will give a little humidity to the baking environment to help prevent cracking.

Pour 1 inch of water into the bottom of a large baking pan. This will give a little humidity to the baking environment to help prevent cracking.

In a small bowl, melt 5 tablespoons butter Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In a small bowl, melt
5 tablespoons butter
Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Crush 12 whole graham crackers.

Crush 12 whole graham crackers.

In a medium bowl, mix 12 whole graham crackers, crushed 3 tablespoons sugar

In a medium bowl, mix
12 whole graham crackers, crushed
3 tablespoons sugar

Add melted butter to crumb mixture, and combine completely.

Add melted butter to crumb mixture, and combine completely.

Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened 1 ½ cups sugar Beat until creamy. (about 3-4 minutes)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
Beat until creamy. (about 3-4 minutes)

Add 2/3 cup half and half (or whole milk) Beat until smooth. (another 2-3 minutes)

Add
2/3 cup half and half (or whole milk)
Beat until smooth. (another 2-3 minutes)

Add 4 eggs one at a time, mixing in between just enough to incorporate.

Add
4 eggs
one at a time, mixing in between just enough to incorporate.

Add 1 cup sour cream ¼ cup flour 1 tablespoon vanilla extract Mix just until combined.

Add
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Mix just until combined.

Pour filling on top of crust.

Pour filling on top of crust.

Place cheesecake in baking pan of water, making sure that the water doesn't over-flow. Then place the whole thing into hot oven. (It's easier to place the pan of water into the oven, first, then place the cheesecake back in it.)

Place cheesecake in baking pan of water, making sure that the water doesn’t over-flow. Then place the whole thing into hot oven.
(It’s easier to place the pan of water into the oven, first, then place the cheesecake back in it.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Watch carefully, because over-baking will cause the top to crack.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.
Watch carefully, because over-baking will cause the top to crack.

The center should still be slightly jiggly when it's done. Turn oven off, and let cool with door ajar for 1 hour. This, also helps prevent cracking.

The center should still be slightly jiggly when it’s done.
Turn oven off, and let cool with door ajar for 1 hour. This, also helps prevent cracking.

After cooling in the oven for an hour, remove the whole thing, run a knife around the edge to help it pull away from the pan, cleanly, and allow to cool at room temperature (still in the water bath) for another hour.

After cooling in the oven for an hour, remove the whole thing, run a knife around the edge to help it pull away from the pan, cleanly, and allow to cool at room temperature (still in the water bath) for another hour.

Remove it from the water bath, and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Remove it from the water bath, and finish cooling on a wire rack. (This takes another 3-4 hours)

When completely cool, remove from pan, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

When completely cool, remove from pan, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, cut into wedges, and eat it plain, or ...

When ready to serve, cut into wedges, and eat it plain, or …

... with whatever topping you prefer.

… with whatever topping you prefer.

New York CheesecakeNew York Cheesecake