New York Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of the most popular cakes for a good reason. The creaminess and richness of just one slice is pure bliss. While cheesecake often gets a bad rep for being complicated, it is certainly nothing to be feared. Today we are breaking down the steps and looking at potential pitfalls. Making cheesecake is not an art and can certainly be mastered when keeping a few things in mind. Let’s get baking!

Springform Pan

To make a cheesecake, you will need a springform pan. While you can bake it in a regular pan lined with parchment paper, getting it out in tact can be finicky. With a springform pan, you are not risking possibly destroying your beautiful cheesecake minutes before you plan on serving it.

Ingredients

Cheesecake consists of more than just cream cheese. Each ingredient does its part in giving the cake structure, a smooth consistency and the means to rise. While the cream cheese is our main component, the cheesecake gets its wonderful velvety texture from the whipped cream. The eggs on the other hand, give the cheesecake stability and help it to rise. Since this cake doesn’t contain a leavening agent, it relies completely on the eggs alone to get that lift. To add sweetness we are using white granulated sugar. You don’t want to add too much since we want a nice balance between the acidity of the cream cheese and the sweetness from the sugar. Lastly we are flavouring it with a hint of vanilla.

For the best taste, use full fat ingredients. Cheesecake isn’t a dessert that’s meant to be light. If you are looking for a healthy main course so you can indulge later, try this guilt free chicken marsala or this slow cooker salmon.

Crust

For the crust you will need cookies. Depending on which country you live in there are several options. I used butter cookies as they are readily available here in Switzerland. If you live in the States you can use graham crackers. Another great option are Lotus Biscoff cookies or digestive biscuits. You can also add a hint of chocolate flavour by using Oreos.

I crushed the cookies by hand, but feel free to use a food processor if you find it more convenient.

Water Bath

If you have ever made a cheesecake before, you’re probably familiar with the term water bath. This is a vital step which you really should not skip. A water bath helps your cheesecake to bake evenly and prevent cracks. The steam that gets released ensures even baking temperatures throughout the whole time which is the key for a perfectly baked cheesecake.

There are two methods for creating a water bath for your cheesecake. The first one is by wrapping the cake pan in several layers of aluminium foil to ensure that no water can get through. Then submerging the cake pan into a large pan filled with water and baking it. This can be a bit tricky as water can get in if you didn’t wrap the cake pan well enough. The second, and less complicated version, is by filling a sheet pan with water and placing it one level below the baking rack where your cheesecake is baking. This way you still get the advantages of the steam, without directly submerging your cake pan into water.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to wrap the bottom of your cake pan with aluminium foil. Even if your cake pan is not sitting in the water directly, the steam can still get through the bottom of your springform pan which can result in a soggy crust.

No Cracks

To prevent cracks in your cheesecake it’s important not to overmix the batter. Mixing too much air into the batter can cause cracks as well as a deflated cheesecake. Also be sure to avoid opening and closing the oven door more than is necessary. Sure you’ll want to check on your cheesecake after it has baked for an hour, but restrain yourself from opening the door beforehand as this drastic change in temperature can cause cracks or sinking.

Twice Baked

This New York style cheesecake is special in the sense that it gets baked twice. The sour cream layer gets added onto the cheesecake in the last 10 minutes of baking time. It not only gives it a beautiful finish, it also hides any imperfections. If you have any small cracks or uneven parts, you can hide these are even them out with the topping. Plus it tastes delicious!

Chilling

As mentioned drastic changes in temperature can cause troubles for your cheesecake. This is why you’ll want to let it cool for an hour in the oven with the door slightly opened before taking it out. The cheesecake will still be warm, that’s okay! Leave it out on your kitchen counter until it has reached room temperature. Then chill it for at least 6 hours. Unfortunately this step cannot be rushed and the cheesecake needs that time to chill and set. Have you ever tasted a room temperature cheesecake? It’s not pleasant!

Toppings

When it comes to cheesecake toppings, there are a multitude of delicious choices. You can add a little more decadence with some chocolate and caramel or lighten it up with some fresh fruit. You can also make a simple fruit sauce by combining fruit with sugar and a little cornstarch and cooking it on the stove for a few minutes. Let it cool a bit and pour over your cheesecake.

Of course you can always enjoy the cheesecake as is, without any toppings. It’s so decadent it’s really not missing any toppings! A cup of coffee and a big slice is all you need!

New York Cheesecake

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

Crust

  • 130 g cookies of choice 4.5 oz
  • 80 g butter 1/3 cup, melted

Cheesecake

  • 700 g cream cheese 24.7 oz, room temperature
  • 150 g white granulated sugar 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup
  • 3 eggs plus 1 yolk room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 125 ml heavy cream 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Sour Cream Topping

  • 250 g sour cream 1 cup
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar sifted

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). For the crust, fill a Ziplock bag with the cookies and using a rolling pin, crush the cookies into small crumbs. 

  2. Combine the cookie crumbs with the melted butter and firmly press onto a greased springform pan (20cm, 8 inches). Wrap the bottom of the pan with aluminium foil.

  3. With a hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

  4. Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat just until combined.

  5. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Then add in the cornstarch and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

  6. Gently fold the whipped cream into the batter with a spatula.

  7. Pour the batter on top of the crust and bake the cheesecake for 55 minutes, until it is slightly jiggly in the center.*

  8. Combine the sour cream and powdered sugar until smooth and spread onto the cheesecake. Bake for another 10 minutes. 

  9. Let the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door slightly opened for 1 hour. Then let it cool completely on the kitchen counter until it reaches room temperature. Then chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours or over night. Serve slightly chilled.

Notes

*If the cheesecake becomes too dark, cover it with aluminium foil. (Make sure that the foil is not touching the cheesecake.)

Store the cheesecake in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Dip your knife into warm water before cutting each slice to get neat slices.

Let’s get started.

Step 1- Crush Cookies

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). For the crust, fill a Ziplock bag with the cookies and using a rolling pin, crush the cookies into small crumbs.

Step 2- Make Crust

Combine the cookie crumbs with the melted butter and firmly press onto a greased springform pan (20cm, 8 inches). Use a spoon or the bottom of a large cup. Wrap the bottom of the pan with aluminium foil.

Step 3- Cream Cheese

With a hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

Step 4- Beat Eggs

Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat just until combined. Avoid over-mixing as this could cause the cheesecake to crack.

Step 5- Whip Cream

In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Then add in the cornstarch and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Step 6- Fold Cream

Gently fold the whipped cream into the batter with a spatula.

Step 7- Bake Cake

Pour the batter on top of the crust and bake the cheesecake for 55 minutes, until it is slightly jiggly in the center. The cheesecake should be jiggly like jelly not like waves.

Step 8- Make Topping

Combine the sour cream and powdered sugar until smooth and spread onto the cheesecake. Bake for another 10 minutes.

Step 9- Cool Cake

Let the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door slightly opened for 1 hour. Then let it cool completely on the kitchen counter until it reaches room temperature. Then chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours or over night. Serve slightly chilled.

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