On my mind today: life lessons. When I was in my early twenties, I moved in with one of my best friends, despite repeated warnings from many older and wiser people. “Don’t move in with your good friends,” they wisely warned. “All it takes is one dispute over your living situation and your friendship could be ruined forever.”
Despite these warnings, we became roomies, and what do you know? We lived together happily for about six months. We never had a single argument about money, or bills, or parking, or food- it wasn’t until I got a boyfriend (my husband) who she didn’t like much. To her credit, he did bring a drunk, obnoxious, friend to her fancy birthday party and ruin it, but to his defense, he has turned out to be pretty amazing. Anyway, long story short, my friend and I eventually had quite the showdown over this and we broke up.
The point of this story is that she moved out of the apartment while I wasn’t at home, and took with her my bottle of Kahlua from Mexico that was shaped like a monkey and also the cookbook that had my absolute favorite, constantly requested, go-to, perfect cheesecake recipe in it.
I am barely exaggerating when I say I have tried ten thousand different recipes that looked like they could be that recipe for cheesecake over the last 11 years, to no avail, until very recently, when I finally found it, made it, tasted it, and realized I had finally found it. I kid you not, I almost cried.
So here I am, documenting it. Roommates and cookbooks will come and go, but the internet is forever, right? May my favorite cheesecake recipe and I never lose each other again.
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 8 tablespoons Butter, melted
- 13 full Graham Crackers (to make just about 2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
- ¼ cup Sugar
- ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
- four 8-ounce blocks (904g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (240g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (optional, but recommended)
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Crumble graham crackers in a bag with a rolling pin or pulse them in the food processor. Add melted butter, salt, and sugar and pulse until just combined. Press the graham cracker mixture into a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan and pat down with your fingers to make the crust. Bring the crust slightly up the edges as well.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Make the filling: Using a mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese (very important that it is at room temp– I leave it out overnight!) and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth– about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon juice then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as much as possible!
- Prepare a water bath: This is SO important in cheesecake making. Cheesecakes love to bake in a humid environment and it is the best way to avoid cracks, but I NEVER place foil or something around a springform pan and then put it in a pan of water because if there is a single leak, your cheesecake is RUINED! I get identical results from putting a pan in the bottom rack of the oven, filling it with boiling water, and placing the cheesecake on the rack above.
- (Note:I like to put my oven on convection mode because it gives the top of the cheesecake that gorgeous golden color.) Bake cheesecake for 55-65 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven in the water bath as it cools down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and water bath, then cool cheesecake completely uncovered at room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.
- Serve cheesecake with desired toppings. Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.