Classic New York Cheesecake (with a twist)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Delegate the dessert making to me, and you can pretty much expect to end up with a cheesecake. Cheesecake is my all time favorite dessert, and it has been my birthday cake of choice since I was old enough to chew and swallow. I served this cheesecake at a Christmas party last week, and if you are still looking for a dessert for a New Year's Eve party, this would fit the bill perfectly! A decadent and beautiful dessert fit for any special occasion.

This isn't the first cheesecake recipe I've shared on the blog, this chocolate brownie version here is my dad's favorite. However, what I love about this particular recipe is that it serves as a great base. You can make it as is, or depending on your mood, you can easily switch up the flavors. This time around, I swapped out the typical graham cracker crust for a chocolate wafer cookie crumb crust and topped the cheesecake with freshly whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Some other variation ideas:
Berry: Shortbread cookie crust with a berry coulis drizzled on top
Chocolate peppermint: Chocolate crust with peppermint infused filling, topped with chocolate ganache & crushed candy canes
Coffee swirl: Infuse part or all of the cheesecake filling with instant espresso powder for a caffeine jolt!
Matcha: Sponge cake base with a matcha powder infused cheesecake batter

The possibilities are endless!

I've wanted to make a gif for a while now and finally got around to it. Pretty cool, huh? ;)

New York Cheesecake
Adapted from Gourmet magazine

For the crust:
2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (use graham crackers for a classic cheesecake)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake filling:
5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature (I recommend using Philadelphia)
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whipped cream topping:
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch (as a stabilizer)
Dark chocolate shavings

Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and up the sides, stopping one inch shy of the top rim, of a 9-1/2 inch springform pan. Put into the freezer so it quickly sets while preparing the filling.

Preheat oven to 550 F*. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, flour and zest with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, then vanilla, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated. Scrape bowl down in between additions, this is very very important as if you do not, you'll end up with a lumpy cheesecake.

Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan (to catch drips). Pour filling into crust (springform pan will be completely full) and place on baking pan then into the middle of the oven for 12 minutes or until puffed. Please watch your cake because some ovens will top-brown very quickly (mine did) and if yours does too fast, lightly cover your cake with a piece of foil and turn the oven down as soon as you catch it. Reduce the temperature to 200 F and continue baking until cake is mostly firm (center will be slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken), about 75 minutes more.

Run a knife around the top edge of the cake to loosen it and cool the cake completely in the springform pan on a wire rack, then chill it, at least 6 hours.

A few hours before serving, make the whipped cream topping. Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in large bowl to stiff peaks. Spoon whipped cream topping onto the cake and swirl "artistically" ;). Top with chocolate shavings.

Do ahead: Cheesecake keeps, covered and chilled, 2 weeks.

* Yes, 550 F is correct, but if you are using a teflon-coated pan, note its temperature limit, often around 475 F, and only start your baking temperature there.

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