We celebrate our visit to New York with the iconic dessert – Cheesecake! While not invented in New York, the version known as “New York Style” Cheesecake has an identity all its own.
It is thought that the New York version was adapted from versions made throughout Europe. The many immigrants that call New York their home adapted this delicious dessert using ingredients common in the USA. While several styles of cheesecake exist, the New York version is recognized as having sour cream and lemon. We will admit here that we are deviating from our typical plan of using the state fruit (apple) in a dessert for the state, but we just couldn’t help ourselves this time.
Cheesecake (New York Style)
150 g Graham Crackers (about 10 full-sheet crackers or 1 1/2 c crumbs)
1/4 c Sugar
6 T Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
2 lbs Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1 C Sour Cream. at room temperature
1 t Vanilla
1 T Lemon Zest, finely grated
1 T Lemon Juice
3 Eggs, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Wrap a 9-inch springform pan with foil. The cheesecake will be baked in a water bath and the goal is to ensure no water seeps into the cake via the bottom ring. Usually two pieces of foil are sufficient, applied cross-wise and long enough to come up almost to the upper ridge of the pan.
Make the crust: Break up graham crackers and combine with sugar in a food processor. Process until crackers are crumbs. In a separate bowl, combine graham cracker mixture and melted butter and mix until combined.
Put mixture into prepared pan and press evenly onto base and about 2 inches up the sides. (A metal measuring cup works well to press the crust into place). Bake at 350 F for 8 minutes. Let the crust cool while you prepare the filling.
Make the filling: In a mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar and mix until very smooth. This should take 2-5 minutes. The goal is to make sure there are not any lumps in the mixture – this will ensure the finished cheesecake is smooth. Add sour cream, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and mix until combined.
With the mixture on low, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until just incorporated. Don’t mix the batter too much at this point or you will incorporate extra air into the mixture, causing the cheesecake to crack during baking.
Pour mixture into crust and smooth the top with a spatula or offset knife. In a large roasting pan, place the cheesecake. Around the cheesecake pour enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides.
Bake at 350 F for 70 minutes. When the time is up, turn the oven off, open the oven door and let the cheesecake cool in the oven (and still in the water bath) for another hour. Take the cheesecake out of the oven and let cool at room temperature for 3 hours. Finally, chill the cheesecake in the refrigerator for another 3 hours or overnight. These cooling steps will prevent a crack from forming in the cheesecake.
Note 1: Plan in advance to make this. The baking and cooling times are pretty long. Best to start in the morning to enjoy it the same day – or just make it the day before.
Note 2: Sadly, the low-fat versions of sour cream and cream cheese don’t work very well in this recipe. Stick with the regular (full-fat) versions here.