Food + Wine

Everyday Cheesecake

My brain wrote a cheesecake the other day (among other things) and would like to share it with you. I also just realized tomorrow is Easter and I don’t know who is playing this cruel joke every year, but it’s getting old. We aren’t religious people, my family. We’re full on candy in a basket/egg dying/egg hunting/ mimosa/ brunch Easter people. So even if we weren’t still in a pandemic, we wouldn’t be having a big celebration or going anywhere that required a lot of prep on my part. But still, there are things I like to do for my family and friends every year that I just realized I had a day to do. Our back yard is under construction, which should provide an easy set for an egg hunt… The house is full of candy and champagne (fairly standard procedure)… I’ll dig in the closet for something pastel to sit and sip in… so, welp. I think maybe I’m all set after all🤷‍♀️.

I did, however, have the forethought to make a cheesecake this year. I know a lot of people do carrot cake for their Easter dessert, but I make one every year for my son’s birthday (Here’s the recipe for my Pineapple Carrot Cake). And cheesecake is one of my all time favorite desserts, so it felt right this year. It’s been a sometimes special occasion dessert for me in the past, but this week it was my breakfast!

Until it becomes our Easter dessert.

Whatever is still left.

I am a full supporter of dessert for breakfast. It’s actually my preference. I don’t understand the ‘dessert after a meal’ thing. Why? You just ate. Why eat again? Dessert does not need to be placed in the ‘after’ category of foods… it should just exist as its own meal. That way I’m hungry for it and therefore appreciate it much more.

I know cheesecakes can be intimidating. I get it. I’ve made several in my lifetime. I think it’s the whole waterbath thing that keeps people away. But this one is a pretty easy recipe… cheesecake-wise. And I didn’t use a waterbath! I didn’t because, frankly, I find they aren’t worth the trouble. And I’m not trying to win a cheesecake award. So I reduced the amount of eggs and the oven temperature, and paid special attention to not beating the mixture too much, and was really happy with the result (and the fact that I did not have to waterbath anything!). The reason for the waterbath is to ensure the cheesecake cooks slowly and evenly and does not crack on the surface from the rise and fall of it once the heat and the whipped air cause it to do so. With this one, there isn’t a rubbery texture that sometimes comes with adding too many eggs (and then having to counteract that with the waterbath)… because I just made sure I added the appropriate amount of eggs in the first place.

It was very simple and makes a perfect breakfast. But it’s also fit for your everyday dessert 😉

Everyday Cheesecake

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technically 12 servings but who’s counting

BEFORE YOU EVEN THINK OF MAKING A CHEESECAKE, REMOVE 4 BRICKS (32 OUNCES) OF NEUFCHATEL CREAM CHEESE FROM YOUR REFRIGERATOR AND LET THEM SIT AT ROOM TEMPERATURE OVERNIGHT, OR AT LEAST 8 HOURS TO FULLY SOFTEN. YOUR EGGS AND SOUR CREAM NEED TO ALSO BE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE, BUT THEY DON’T REQUIRE AS LONG.

ALSO DO NOT COUNT ON SERVING / EATING THE CHEESECAKE UNTIL THE FOLLOWING DAY AS IT NEEDS TO SET IN THE FRIDGE FOR AT LEAST 8 HOURS.

sorry i yelled at you.

*For the crust :

Grease a 10 inch springform pan. Make sure the rim is locked and evenly attached. Line the entire pan’s bottom and sides with aluminum foil to prevent any leaks.

You will need a total of 2ish cups of cookie/cracker crumbs. You can use whatever you have on hand, graham crackers being the traditional ingredient. But gingersnaps, vanilla wafers, biscoff… I can’t think of a cookie that wouldn’t work. Also play around with adding salty crackers, etc. to the mix like butter crackers, saltines, pretzels…

I used a combination of 6 whole graham crackers (the full rectangles), 12 gingersnaps and 3 ounces of salted pretzels to equal 2 cups mounded, which equalled 9 ounces.

(Note on the pretzels – refrain from using the giant hard ones and just stick to the standard smaller ones. The texture is far better in crumb crust form.)

In a food processor, blitz your cookies/crackers until they are completely broken down into sand. I say this because some cookies/crackers if left chunky do not make for a good texture in the crust, so better to be safe here. Be patient and wait for the sand.

Add –

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 TB light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (can substitute cinnamon)

Pour the mixture (now it’s wet sand) into your greased 10 inch springform pan lined with foil and using the bottom of a measuring cup, press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 15 minutes.

(Allow to cool completely before filling!)

*For the filling :

In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add –

4 bricks / 32 ounces neufchatel cream cheese, FULLY SOFTENED

Beat this on low-medium until creamy, but no more than that.

Add in –

3 large room temperature eggs, slightly beaten

Mix the eggs into the cream cheese on low-medium until fully incorporated, but no more than that.

Add in –

  • 2/3 cup sour cream (I’ve also used my homemade full fat kefir yogurt!)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • good splash vanilla extract
  • half that amount of almond extract
  • the zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Beat this on the low/medium speed until everything is fully incorporated, but no more than that. It should be smooth and silky.

Pour into your COMPLETELY COOLED prepared crust and smooth the top.

Bake in the preheated 325 degree oven for 75-90 minutes. Ovens vary, but you’re looking for a golden brown top and some shrinkage from the sides of the pan. My oven is dying a slow death and I took this cover model a bit too far (if you notice the skin formed on the top), but nobody seemed to mind.

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Allow it too cool completely at room temperature before covering with plastic and refrigerating for at least 8 hours before serving.

If you’re a fruit compote or syrup on your cheesecake person, go for it. If you’re a chocolate sauce on your cheesecake person, it’s best we end things here. I’m a purist and like mine free as a bird.

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thanks for reading, y’all. be safe out there x

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