New York Cheesecake

New York Cheesecake

Always a crowd pleaser, try substituting the traditional graham cracker crust with crushed chocolate wafers for a new take on this classic. Fresh strawberry topping adds a surprising yet delightful twist.


Serves 12 to 16
For the crust, chocolate wafers (such as Nabisco Famous) may be substituted for graham crackers; you will need about 14 wafers. The flavor and texture of the cheesecake are best if the cake is allowed to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. When cutting the cake, have a pitcher of hot tap water ready; dipping the blade of the knife into the water and wiping it after each slice helps make clean slices.

Graham Cracker Crust
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
for greasing the pan
8 whole graham crackers (4 ounces), broken into rough pieces and processed in a food
processor to fine, even crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar

2 1/2 pounds (five 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

1. For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl; add 5 tablespoons of the melted butter and toss with a fork until evenly moistened. Empty the crumbs into the springform pan and, using the bottom of a ramekin, 1 cup measuring cup, or drinking glass, press evenly into the pan bottom, using a teaspoon to press the crumbs neatly into the corner of the pan. Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while making the filling.

2. For the cheesecake filling: Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla, and beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions.

3. Brush the sides of the springform pan with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter. Set the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any spills if the pan leaks). Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake 10 minutes; without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Run a paring knife between the cake and the springform pan sides. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. (The cheesecake can be refrigerated up to 4 days.)

4. To unmold the cheesecake, remove the sides of the pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the bottom of the pan to loosen, then slide the cake onto a serving plate. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges (see note) and serve with Fresh Strawberry Topping (recipe follows), if desired.

Fresh Strawberry Topping
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
The dense, creamy richness of a New York cheesecake makes it the perfect candidate for some kind of fruity foil. A ruby-colored, glazed strawberry topping is the classic accompaniment to New York cheesecake. This topping is best served the same day it is made.

2 pounds strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and cut lengthwise into 1/4- to 3/8-inch wedges
1/2 cup (31/2 ounces) sugar
Pinch salt
1 cup strawberry jam
2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon

1. Toss the berries, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl; let stand until the berries have released some juice and the sugar has dissolved, about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally to combine.
2. Process the jam in a food processor until smooth, about 8 seconds; transfer to a small saucepan. Bring the jam to a simmer over medium-high heat; simmer, stirring frequently, until dark and no longer frothy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice; pour the warm jam over the strawberries and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours or up to 12. To serve, spoon a portion of sauce over individual slices of cheesecake.