Last weekend I made a trip to Long Island to go berry picking. It was a day filled with merriment, but also sore legs and creaking backs. I had to shove my face in the ground to pick the last remaining edible strawberries of the late season. I also tried snap pea ice cream for the first time, the you-pick farm made their own, and it was interesting, but I didn't love it. At the end of the day I came home with two heaping pints of fresh raspberries and strawberries. What better activity to do other than make cheesecake?
I used to make cheesecakes quite often, but stopped a few years ago for reasons I am unsure of to this day (among other things, I think it might have had to do with my expanding waistline, since a girl can't always have the metabolism she had at 20). I had always used the low and slow cooking method, letting my oven go at an easy 275 degrees F. I never had one dud.
The other day I found a different recipe that looked pretty good (from another blog, but I won't name names) that called for blasting the cheesecake at 500 degrees F for 10 minutes then turning the oven down to 200 degrees F without opening the door. It was a disaster. My crust was burnt to a crisp blackish-brown and the cheesecake cracked all along the sides. And far from being silky smooth, the filling had the texture of scrambled eggs. I vigilantly checked my oven thermometer before placing the cheesecake in, so I must assume that the recipe was tested in an oven that ran much cooler than thought, or I made some critical mistakes somewhere along the way. Either way, I wanted cheesecake and didn't have the patience to figure out what went wrong.
Back to my old trusted recipe (adapted from Alton Brown, of course) I went. Don't fix things that don't need a fixin', you know?
Adapted from Alton Brown
I like my cheesecake to have a good amount of graham cracker crust. You could easily halve the amount of graham crackers and not bring the crust up the sides if that is not your style.
I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer, especially if you like to bake more than occasionally and/or you have an older and more unreliable oven like me. Mine doesn't even have door you can see through, I think it was made in the 1960s.
Yields one 9 inch cheesecake, serving 12-16.
2 packages (about 9.6 oz or 272 grams) graham crackers
1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 & 1/4 cup (about 300 grams) sour cream
24 oz (3 bricks or 680 grams) cream cheese
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks
1/3 cup (79 milliliters) heavy cream
2 pints fresh raspberries, divided
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Crush the graham crackers and transfer to a food processor. Pulse until you get fine crumbs. Mix crumbs with butter until well incorporated. Line a 9 inch springform pan with a layer of parchment paper on the bottom. Press the graham cracker crumbs firmly into the bottom and 2-ish inches up the sides of the pan. I recommend using a short glass to help pack it in. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool (you can place it in the freezer to speed it up).
Lower oven temperature to 275 degrees F.
Meanwhile, place sour cream in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, beat on medium low for 15 to 20 seconds. Add cream cheese, sugar, and salt and continue beating for 1 to 2 minutes until just incorporated (you want to avoid beating too much air into the batter). In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, add vanilla, eggs and heavy cream. Whisk to combine. Add half of the liquid ingredients to the cream cheese mixture. Beat on medium low for 1 minute. Turn off mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the other half of the liquids and beat for 1 more minute. Scrape down bowl one final time. All the ingredients should be well combined, and you should not see any white ribbons of cream cheese.
Transfer batter to the chilled crust. Tap the pan gently to remove any air bubbles and even out batter. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 275 degrees F. Turn off oven without opening the door, and leave cheesecake in to finish baking and slowly cool for an additional hour. The cheesecake should jiggle slightly in the center when you gently shake it. Remove from oven and let cool at room temperature until barely warm. Cover and let chill in fridge overnight.
While cheesecake is chilling, make the raspberry sauce. Divide your 2 pints of raspberries in half. One half being the freshest, best looking ones for placing directly on the cake, the other half being any overripe or smushed ones for making the sauce to drizzle over the fresh raspberries. Transfer the latter half of the raspberries to a small saucepan. Add sugar and water. Bring to a boil then turn down heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the raspberries have dissolved and the sauce has reduced down until it can thinly coat the back of a spoon. Take the sauce through a fine mesh sieve, press the mixture through as much as possible until only the seeds remain (this part took me a good 10 minutes since the flesh of the raspberries really didn't want to separate from the seeds. If you don't spend the time to do this, the sauce will be too thin and watery). You should end up with about 1 cup of sauce. Let cool to at least room temperature.
Scatter the fresh raspberries on top of your cooled cheesecake. Drizzle the sauce on top and enjoy.