Monday, September 16, 2013

Ultimate Cheesecake

2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 30 squares)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 dash vanilla extract 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a mixing bowl combine the graham crackers, cinnamon, and butter with a fork until evenly moistened. Pour the crumbs into the pan and press the crumbs into the base and 1-inch up the sides. I like to wrap my hands in a sandwich bag or use a glass to press the graham crackers down. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

Beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs one at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add the sugar and beat until creamy for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the sour cream and the vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well mixed but not over beaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. See image below:

Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Remove the cheesecake pan from the roasting pan. Let the cheesecake cool for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. 

Strawberry Topping Ingredients:
1 pint fresh Strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Wash and prep the strawberries. If the strawberries are large make sure to cut them in half. Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring continuously. Juice will begin to form, continue stirring and mash the strawberries with the side of the spoon. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and refrigerate. You can also puree the sauce to get rid of some of the strawberry chunks. 

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