this recipe could possibly put any new york style cheesecake to shame. while i love most every cheesecake i have ever encountered, i must admit that this was by far the best i had ever had. i'm not sure if this is because it was baked fresh from scratch, cooled down perfectly in my own fridge and sliced the morning after slaving away into the small hours of the night, or maybe because i was really craving cheesecake. nah. i really believe the texture came out amazing- not overcooked and dry but instead light, airy, and creamy. this is more of a philadelphia style cheesecake since it's lighter in texture but richer in flavor than traditional NY cheesecake. i noticed that the less it was done, meaning not overcooked, the more the flavor was enhanced. it was so good i brought it out like a trophy to present to alen in which i insisted he at least take one bite. needless to say, it didn't last that long.
2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature (16 ounces total)
1 cup granulated or superfine baker's sugar (found at most markets)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup (4 oz.) heavy cream
Garnish if opted
Fresh berries (such as strawberries or blueberries)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
To Make the Crust:
In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20cm) springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon the graham cracker mixture into the prepared springform pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Chill crust in refrigerator until ready to fill.
To Make the Filling:
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute, until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined, then beat in cream. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the strained lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Beat until well combined and the mixture is light and fluffy (the batter should be well combined but not overmixed).
Using clean electric beaters or a balloon whisk, whisk the egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Using a large metal spoon, fold beaten egg whites into cream cheese mixture until just combined.
Pour the mixture into the chilled crust. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until just set in the center. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours to overnight to set. Remove 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh berries, if desired. Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry after each cut.
Makes 10-12 servings. Recipe adapted from Diana's Desserts