There are many different recipes for and ways to make cheesecake, and I’ve tried many of them. This is my favorite, and very easy.
Don’t beat the filling too much – it adds air that will make the batter mound in the middle while baking and cause cracks in the top as it cools.
Use your fingers and a large spoon to press the crumb mixture evenly around the sides of the pan. Use the edge of the spoon to gently scrape the lower edges of the crust down so they are the same thickness as the top of the sides (about 1/4-inch thick). Then spread the crumbs remaining in the pan evenly across the bottom and press firmly with your fingertips. Use the back of the spoon to smooth the bottom. Place the crust in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
Xylitol is a wonderful sugar substitute that looks and tastes like sugar but has one third fewer calories. It does not have the unpleasant aftertaste of some alternative sweeteners. Xylitol can be substituted for granulated sugar in equal parts. Xylitol comes in rather large granules, so put it in the blender and give it a quick whirl to break it down so it dissolves more quickly and easily.
Wrap the pan with a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil, or two layers of regular foil. Wrap the pan tightly, making sure the foil extends evenly up all sides of the pan. Pour the blended filling into the prepared crust.
Perfect Creamy Cheesecake
Makes 12-16 servings
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
¾ cup sugar or xylitol
¾ cup butter, melted
2 lbs. cream cheese (4 8-oz. packages)
1 cup plus 5 tablespoons sugar or xylitol
1½ cups sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups sour cream
5 tablespoons sugar or xylitol
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°.
Prepare pan: Turn a 10-inch springform pan bottom-side up on counter. Cover bottom and as far up sides as possible with 2 layers of aluminum foil, pressing to ensure a tight fit. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine all crust ingredients well. Press evenly into bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Bake crust for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sugar, scraping sides of bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Pour batter into crust. Place cake in a baking pan at least 1-inch larger all around. Carefully place in oven. Add 1 inch of hot water to outer pan. Bake cake for 1¼ hours, until set when pan is lightly shaken.
Mix topping ingredients together until smooth. Spread over top of cheesecake. Bake for 15 minutes longer. Remove cake from oven, and use foil to lift cake out of outer pan. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.
You can make half a recipe in an 8-inch cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment before pressing the crust in. When the cake is cool, run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen the crust and turn it upside down on to a plate to remove the cake from the pan. Place serving plate on bottom of cake and turn over again so cheesecake is right side up on serving plate.