If you asked anyone what my favorite dessert would be, I have no doubt they would tell you cheesecake. I see it as the perfect finale, the masterpiece of the dessert world, the pinnacle of sweets. Only problem is – it takes so long to make. But as some ancient philosopher said, “Good things come to those who put in the work”, or something to that effect. When it comes to dessert, I couldn’t agree more.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes
Cool Time: 6 hours

Ingredients:
2 cups – Graham cracker crumbs
1-1/4 Cups, plus 3 Tbs. – Sugar
½ tsp. – Cinnamon
¼ cup – butter, unsalted
4 packages (8 oz.) – Cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Tbs. – Flour
¼ tsp. – Salt
½ cup – Sour cream
1 Tbs. – Vanilla extract
3 – Eggs, large, at room temperature
1 – Crisco

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 400°F. Using Crisco, lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons of sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. I prefer to use an electric mixer to speed up the process. Mix until well blended and butter has saturated the contents of the bowl. Pour into the springform pan and press evenly on the bottom and 2 inches up the side of the pan.

Tip: I find using a cup is the easiest way to press the crust evenly across the bottom and up the sides.

Bake the crust until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a mixer on medium, beat until smooth – don’t forget to scrape down the sides frequently. Add the remaining sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. Continue mixing until well blended. Incorporate the eggs slowly, one at a time, until well blended. Pour into crust.

Bake the cheesecake until set, which is when the sides are puffed up and slightly jiggly, 60 – 70 minutes. Don’t shake the pan when checking. This will cause the top of your cheesecake to crack and ruin the look. Remove and cool on a rack to room temperature allowing the cake to set. Cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours or overnight. Return it to room temperature before serving.

Taking the cake out of the springform pan can be troublesome. I like to use a kitchen torch or thin blade knife to separate the crust from the pan. I’m always scared I’ll mess up at the end. Transfer to a serving plate.

Tip: The most reliable way to slice a cheesecake is with a knife dipped in hot water, and make sure you wipe it dry before each slice.

Feel free to top the cheesecake with any topping you like. Personally, I prefer a strawberry puree.

Serves 12 – 14