Enough with the healthy stuff, dear readers.
I made a cheesecake.
And a good one, at that.
This cheesecake hails from December, when I made it for my husband’s/Grandma Glass of Milk’s/my aunt’s Triple Birthday Bash! All three were born on 12/13. Well, all three plus Taylor Swift. But when you’re a food blogger, December is filled with holiday cookies, and January is packed with grains and greens. When you’re a food blogger, cheesecakes made in the middle of December get relegated to the back of your iPhoto files, waiting for you to rediscover them late one chilly evening while sitting with a warm laptop on your, well, lap.
By now you’ve all given up your healthy eating resolutions, right? We’re that far into the month, aren’t we? Even if we’re not, let me tell you this is splurge-worthy. Indulgent. Luxurious. It’s velvety smooth. The lemon zest does that same thing to vanilla that coffee powder does to chocolate. The cheesecake doesn’t taste like lemon, it just tastes more like vanilla. Rich vanilla.
This is Ina’s cheesecake. There are at least a dozen cookbooks in my library I could have turned to when my husband requested a cheesecake for his birthday, but I went with my girl, the Barefoot Contessa. Or as Liz Lemon calls her, “That woman on the Food Network whose husband only comes home on the weekends.” Ina is at her best when she’s making American classics (and yes, she really does turn up the volume), and this cheesecake is a shining example of such dishes. Out of the three cakes available, this was the one that was first to go. The one everybody had to have a piece of.
And yes, it had a giant crack in the middle, but whose cheesecake doesn’t? When you top it with raspberry sauce (which wasn’t memorable, so maybe this sauce next time, okay?), you’ll never even know it was there.
You don’t need a reason to make a cheesecake. Today is Sunday. Tomorrow is Monday. Do it.
To make cheesecake for 12, you will need:
Time. Cheesecake is not a labor-intensive cake to make, but it takes a lot of time just hanging out in the oven. Plan to make it the day before you need it.
For the crust:
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 5 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
- 1 cup red jelly (not jam), such as currant, raspberry, or strawberry
- 3 half-pints fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.
Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees F and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.
To make the topping, melt the jelly in a small pan over low heat. In a bowl, toss the raspberries and the warm jelly gently until well mixed. Arrange the berries on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.