In my family, Thanksgiving is not the only important November celebration. My mom and my niece have birthdays one day apart, and this year the party called for cheesecake.
I’m not a cheesecake expert, but here are a few tips I’ve learned that have helped mine be better:
- To make a smooth batter, the cream cheese needs to be very soft. Leave it out to soften overnight, or put it in the microwave a few seconds at a time.
- Keep the mixer on low-medium speed, to avoid incorporating too much air. Scrape the bowl and paddle frequently.
- Avoid using a Springform pan, which can allow water to seep into the crust when you bake the cake in a water bath (even if you protect the bottom with foil). A deep, straight-sided cake pan works just fine.
- Cool the cake completely at room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
- To cut cleanly, dip the knife in hot water and dry it with a towel before cutting each slice.
(Cake adapted from SFBI. Topping adapted from Epicurious.)
Yield: one 8-inch cake
- Mix: 15 minutes
- Bake: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Cool: at least 2 hours
- Chill: overnight
- Unchill and top: about an hour
- Chill: 2 hours or longer
- 132 g graham cracker crumbs
- 44 g sugar
- 64 g butter, melted
- 532 g cream cheese, softened
- 160 g sugar
- 26 g melted butter
- 10 (2 t.) g lemon juice
- 5 g (1 t.) vanilla extract
- 139 g (3 medium) eggs at room temperature
- 46 g heavy cream
- 46 g sour cream
- 150 g sugar
- 14 g (2 T.) water
- 1/4 t. lemon juice
- 120 g heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- 2 Heath Bars, coarsely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 285F if you have a convection setting, or 325F for the regular bake setting. Start boiling water for the water bath.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a 2-inch deep x 8-inch diameter cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.
- Mix the crust ingredients together well with your fingers. Press the crust into the pan and partway up the sides, to a thickness of 1/4 inch.
- In a small bowl, blend the cream and sour cream together.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese on medium-low speed until it is very smooth.
- Add the following ingredients is this order, mixing on medium-low speed until smooth after each addition and scraping the bowl frequently:
- sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla
- eggs, one at a time
- cream/sour cream mixture
- Pour the batter over the crust in the prepared pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
- Place the cake on a rimmed sheet pan and set it in the oven. Pour boiling water in the sheet pan to just below the rim.
- Bake until the cake has just a slight wobble in the center when nudged.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool, still in its water bath, to room temperature.
- Run a knife around the edge to make sure it is free of the pan, then invert the cake onto a plate and again onto a second plate so that it is right-side-up.
- Cover the cake with plastic wrap directly on its surface, and chill overnight.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it unchill slightly while you prepare the topping. Keep the plastic wrap on during this time so any condensation forms on the plastic and not on the cake.
- In a medium saucepan, stir together the topping sugar, water, and lemon juice over medium-high heat to dissolved the sugar. Heat on medium-high without stirring, washing down the sides with a wet pastry brush occasionally, until the mixture turns an amber color.
- Add the cream and the salt and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring from time to time, until the caramel is thick but not chewy (gauge the consistency by dripping a bit onto a metal spoon).
- Remove from the heat and pour into a metal bowl. Cool at room temperature until it is slightly warmer than body temperature; it should still be quite pourable at this point.
- Pour the topping over the cake; use an offset spatula to spread it to the edges and let it drip down the sides.
- Top with chopped Heath Bars.
- Cover with a cake dome and chill for 2 – 6 hours before serving.