|Ever had a cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory®? Some folks would sell their family members to Gypsies just for a slice of this wicked, wicked treat! A couple of years ago, I embarked on a mission to duplicate, as closely as possible, their flagship product. After a few pricey failures, I think I nailed it.I’m including two crust options in the recipe – a fairly standard graham cracker crust, as well as the signature nut crust. The choice is yours; I won’t try to sway you either way, other than to say that the nut crust is absolutely killer…
I’ve also included a quick fruit sauce topping recipe that works with any frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mixed berries, etc.).
A couple of prep notes: this is one of the few recipes I’ve created where sticking with the quantities and procedures as written is vital. All the mistakes in creating this dessert have already been made by me, so you’ll benefit by my experience here.
You’re going to need a 9” springform pan – buy a good one that’s heavy-duty so it doesn’t warp from the heat. A non-stick Teflon® pan is well worth the extra couple of bucks.
Stay far, far away from the store brand of cream cheese – for most dishes, a store brand is perfectly acceptable, but for cheesecake, only the national brand will do.
Before you start making the filling, bring all the ingredients to room temperature – three hours out of refrigeration seems to be about right.
Place a pan of water in the oven while the cheesecake is baking – this will help to keep cracking of the top to a minimum. Alternatively, you can bake the cheesecake in a water bath: carefully wrap the outside of the springform pan in heavy-duty aluminum foil, and place in a larger pan with ½” of water in the bottom.
Be sure to make the cheesecake a full 24 hours before you intend to serve it – the flavors must mature before you enjoy it.
Chopped Nut Crust
|1 cup||Vanilla wafers|
|Finely chop nuts and vanilla wafers in a food processor; melt butter and mix with nut mixture.Press mixture evenly into a buttered springform pan; bring the mixture up onto the sides of the pan as much as possible. Use a straight-sided glass to help with pressing out the mixture. Chill in the freezer while making the filling.|
Graham Cracker Crust
|2 cups||Graham cracker crumbs|
|½ tsp||Ground cinnamon|
|Combine graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon; melt butter and mix with graham cracker mixture.Press mixture evenly into a buttered springform pan; bring the mixture up onto the sides of the pan as much as possible. Use a straight-sided glass to help with pressing out the mixture. Chill in the freezer while making the filling.|
|3-8 oz pkg||Cream cheese|
|16 oz||Sour cream|
|¼ cup||All-purpose flour|
|2 tsp||Pure vanilla extract|
|2 tsp||Fresh lemon juice|
|Preheat oven to 325 degrees.Using an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy (use the low setting on the mixer throughout the entire mixing process, and keep mixing as each ingredient is added).
Add the sugar a little at a time.
Add the eggs one at a time, waiting one minute between each egg.
Add flour, vanilla and lemon juice.
Add the sour cream; continue beating the entire mixture for an additional three minutes.
Pour filling mixture into the springform pan.
Place pan in the center of the middle oven rack; bake for one hour 15 minutes (75 minutes).
When baking time is complete, turn off oven and gently open the oven door slightly. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional hour.
Gently remove from oven and cool on a rack for several hours, then refrigerate for 24 hours – do not cover.
Fruit Sauce Topping
|3 cups||Frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.)|
|6 Tbs||Cold water|
|Place the berries in a medium saucepan over low to medium heat. Do not add water, there will be enough liquid from the thawing of the berries.Stir the sugar into the berries, and continue to stir until the berries are thawed and the sugar is dissolved; about five minutes.
Whisk together the cold water and cornstarch until smooth. Add the mixture to the berries and simmer, stirring frequently until thickened, about five minutes. Try not to crush the berries too much during the stirring process.
Serve over cheesecake.
Leftover sauce should be refrigerated, and will last 3-4 days under refrigeration.