NEW YORK CHEESECAKE
Jewish Food: The World at Table by Matthew Goodman
Making cheesecake at home can seem a daunting proposition, but it's actually very simple, as long as you obey one essential commandment: Thou shalt not overbake. Overbaking is the enemy of cheesecakes, because it causes them to dry out and—the bane of every cheesecake maker, to crack on top. It's best to remove the cheesecake from the oven when it's still slightly wobbly in the center; it will finish cooking as it cools. Too-rapid cooling, the other primary cause of cracking in cheesecakes, can be prevented by allowing the cake to cool partway in the oven with the heat turned off and the door ajar. Then, when the cake is out, make sure to run a thin knife around the crust; the cake will contract slightly as it cools, and any crust sticking to the side of the pan can also cause cracking.
This fabulous rendition of New York cheesecake comes from Marty and Irma Shore of (where else?) New York. My favorite serving method is to drizzle individual slices, depending on the season, with strawberry compote or sour cherry compote.
SERVES 10 TO 12
FOR THE CRUST
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 graham crackers)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
FOR THE FILLING
1 1/4 pounds (20 ounces) cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Strawberry or sour cherry compote for topping (optional)
1. Make the crust: Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9 - inch springform pan. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a medium bowl and mix well. Press the mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the prepared pan. Place the pan in the freezer until the crust is firm, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
3. Make the filling: In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and salt at low speed until smooth. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, letting each become fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon juice and mix until very smooth, making sure to regularly scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
4. Pour the filling into the crust. Place the springform pan in a large baking pan, to catch any drips. Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and allow the cake to bake in the turned-off oven for an additional 30 minutes.
5. Open the oven door. Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes in the oven with the door ajar. Remove and carefully run a thin knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Place the springform pan on a wire cooling rack to cool completely. When cool, cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
6. Remove the sides of the pan and transfer the cake to a serving platter. If desired, drizzle individual slices with fruit compote.