That cheesecake recipe
Many years ago I worked as a baker at a dessert restaurant that specialized in cheesecake. Their cheesecake recipe was particularly good, very resilient and adaptable. And burned into my brain from making it thousands of times.
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1⁄4 cup margarine (roughly)
- 1 lbs cream cheese (2x8oz packages; get the good stuff Philadelphia, etc. Seems to make a difference. Must be full fat)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup sour cream (must be full fat)
- 4 large eggs
Set oven to 350F
Mix melted margarine with graham cracker crumbs till it’s the consistency of damp sand; crumbly but not soaked (sorry don’t have exact numbers for this, I always do it by texture). Spread level in the bottom of an 8 in springform can using a broad flat spoon or non-slotted spatula to about 1⁄2 cm thickness, tamped down and level. Pay special attention to the edges. There should be no loose crumbs, they’ll get in the cake and you want a nice sharp boundary.
You can also use Oreo crumbs. My Mom made one with ground nuts recently that was fantastic and gluten free. And it only added a few hundred extra calories per slice.
In food processor, mix cream cheese + sugar till creamy. Add sour cream, then eggs. Stop it a few times and scrape the sides to ensure it’s all mixed up. Don’t over mix and aerate, just long enough to get a smooth consistency.
Above we used the first half of a 16 oz sour cream container. We’ll use the second half for the topping.
If you’re adding anything you add it now; Grand Marnier (liquor usually 1⁄4 cup) Bailey’s for Bailey’s Rocky Road, chocolate syrup, whatever. Pro tip: never use real coffee (espresso or instant) it destabilizes the mix (pH?); coffee essence works best.
Pour it over a big spoon onto the base to avoid excavating it and mixing with the cake.
If you’re doing Bailey’s Rocky Road, pour half of it in the middle (having already added Baileys), then put some choc syrup in the remaining mix and pour it over the pale stuff in a cross. Take a knife, plunge it into the mix (not quite touching the bottom so you don’t get the base mixed in) and mix it about in spirals to make an “intriguing swirly pattern”. That’s a direct quote from the original recipe. I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I can quote a stained recipe book I last saw 20 years ago verbatim. Sigh.
If you’re adding chunks of stuff to be in the cake, do it now; choc chips, raspberries, etc. I like to drop them in from a variety of heights 10-30 cm, it distributes them nicely in the z axis of the cheesecake. This way they don’t get broken and don’t cluster at the bottom as they tend to when you put them in the food processor.
Now put it in the oven. Convection ovens work best. I usually put in a bowl of water to keep humidity constant. Cracking can be an issue and this helps a bit, but the topping will repair it if it does happen. It takes 30-50 minutes depending in the mix but the center should be firm and not jiggly. At that point take it out but leave the oven on.
Take the remaining 8oz sour cream and put 1⁄4 cup sugar in it and mix. Add small amounts of hot water and mix until it’s the consistency of very thick cream. Usually I just do this in the sour cream container (add stuff, shake and stir). Then pour it very gently on top of the still hot cheesecake and tilt it (gently!) about until it completely covers the cake.
For Bailey’s you do the same as the cake mix; pour half as a blob in the center, add a bit of choc syrup for colour then spread in a cross shape, then use a knife to make the swirly patterns. Careful not to damage the cake if you do this. then thrown choc chips, pecan pieces, marshmallows, etc. on top.
Then put it back in the oven for 3-5 minutes. This sets it. Let it cool, then refrigerate.
(if you’re putting choc on top)
Take about 1.5 cups choc chips and 1⁄4 cup marg. Mix together and melt (double boiler if you’re fancy, I used microwave, but be careful about burning it). You might need to adjust amounts, should flow well melted but set to firm. Pour (gently, over spoon) onto the cooled and set topping, and carefully spread/tilt to cover cake. Refrigerate and this gives a thick strata of choc on top. Cut with a hot knife to avoid cracking and the various layers look lovely, particularly if swirly!
And that’s it.
A good simple recipe is to put white chocolate chips in the food processor with the basic mix above, put topping on then serve with a coulis; I favour raspberry+lime and a bit of lime zest, serve with mint leaf for presentation.