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Vanilla Cheesecake

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Recipe adopted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook.  [Recipe makes one 9-inch cheesecake].

I've probably already mentioned that pumpkin cheesecake is my favorite type of cheesecake, but with that, a plain old vanilla cheesecake comes pretty darn close.  I've tried out many plain cheesecake recipes over the years, and until recent, America's Test Kitchen was my favorite due to its texture.  But to achieve that texture, you had to cook it initially at 500° F which resulted in a fairly dark top.  To some, this might be what you're used to, but not this guy.  A year or two ago, I tried out Williams-Sonoma's recipe, and was impressed with the flavor, texture, and appearance.  Triple win.  Rather than carefully watching it at 500° F and then reducing the temperature to 200° F, this cheesecake cooks at one temperature and is done in half the time.  Enjoy this classic on its own, with a fruit topping, or a nice drizzle of chocolate and/or caramel.

INGREDIENTS:

6 ounces (~1 1/2 cups or ~11 whole sheets) graham crackers, finely crushed
1 3/4 ounces (~1/4 cup) sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

32 ounces (four 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces (~1 1/4 cups) sugar
4 ounces (~1/2 cup) sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400° F and lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan.

Using a food processor, combine the graham crackers crumbs and sugar together.  Add the vanilla and melted butter and pulse until fully coated.  Transfer the mixture to the springform pan and press evenly along the bottom and roughly 1 1/2-inches up the sides.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Set on a cooling rack while you prepare the filling, and reduce the oven temperature to 300° F.

In a stand-mixer bowl, combine the room temperature cream cheese, flour, and salt using the beater attachment.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and continue mixing until very smooth.  Add the remaining sugar (1 1/4 cups), sour cream, and vanilla and continue blending and scraping until smooth.  Add the room temperature eggs one by one, until fully incorporated.  Give the bowl a final scrape and stir, and transfer the filling to the crust.  Bake  for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the outer filling is set and the inner 4-inches or so (diameter) jiggles when you give the springform a light jerk.

Transfer the cheesecake to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes.  Carefully take a sharp paring knife and run it along the perimeter of the cheesecake.  This will ensure that the cheesecake does not stick to the pan when cooling, which is a key reason for cracked cheesecakes.

Once the cheesecake comes to room temperature, transfer to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  For the best flavor and texture (in my opinion), keep the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least one day before serving.

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