Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, this is the only cheesecake recipe you will ever need. Yes, that is a bold statement, but after making the recipe, I can attest that indeed, this is the ultimate cheesecake recipe. A perfect cheesecake slice is thick, rich, creamy, and luscious. A perfect cheesecake will have a flawless, smooth top with a buttery graham cracker crust. Achieving these is a labor of love. Plan ahead and start making the cheesecake a day before you actually want to eat it. For the impatient soul, there is always the “no-bake cheesecake,” (click here for variation#1 and variation #2) but it is definitely not the same. Enjoy this recipe, follow it patiently, and get ready to be crowned as the definitive cheesecake baker!
Ingredients for Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Ingredients for Cheesecake filling:
- four 8-ounce blocks full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 tsp of Vanilla Bean paste (you could use 1tsp of vanilla extract, but I love the flecks of vanilla bean in my cheesecake)
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 5-6 oz seedless raspberry jam (optional if you want to make a jammy swirl, plain is just fine)
Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter until combined. (You can also pulse it all together in the food processor.) The mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly. Pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a large piece of aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath. Allow crust to cool as you prepare the filling.
Make the filling: Using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla bean paste, and lemon juice then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as best you can. Pour the cheesecake batter on top crust and smooth it with the back of the spatula. I was not too precise with this step since I was adding a jam swirl. If you are planning on a plain cheesecake, take time to make a smooth top, it will make a beautiful presentation.
Raspberry Swirl: Take your favorite seedless raspberry jam in a small bowl and microwave it for 30 secs, till it is runny. Using a spoon, add big dollops of the jam on top of the cheesecake. There are nor rules here, you can use as much or as little jam you want, or how much “swirl” you want. After you add the jam, take a long skewer (chopsticks or knitting needles will work too) and swirl the jam around.
Water bath: heat an entire kettle of water. As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan—this will prevent any leaks. Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside the pan and place it in the oven.
Baking: Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan. If you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking.
Cooling and putting your will power to the test: This is probably the most important step in the whole process. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven in the water bath as it cools down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and water bath, then cool cheesecake completely at room temperature for another 1-2 hours. Then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
EAT: Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.