Here it is: the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The cheesecake moment! Do you love cheesecake? I certainly do, but somehow it seems to be one of those polarizing foods. You either love it, or you shake your head and pass it by. Some people just find it too rich. I’m not one of those people.
This was one of the first Ina Garten recipes I ever tried, and if you’re a little nervous about it, don’t be. It’s pretty easy to do, and it has lovely results. One thing that drew me to it in the first place is that it’s a cheesecake, yet there is no water bath in sight. Almost every cheesecake I’ve ever seen is made by setting the pan inside another filled with water. I’ve always found this a bit tricky since I tend to burn myself in the kitchen like you wouldn’t believe. I’m just kind of drawn to it. Like every single time I make baked egg rolls. EVERY TIME.
I first found Ina Garten’s cheesecake on the Food Network page. Originally the recipe was made with a raspberry topping, but the wind has always blown me toward the shores of strawberry island. It’s a pretty nice island. Check it out. But really, let your taste buds be your guide with this one. How about a blueberry topping? That sounds stellar to me! Or maybe you can just rewrite the whole novel and go for chocolate and turtlefy the whole thang. Do what you gotta do, friends.
Just one little word of caution: sometimes when we read recipes and see a certain ingredient we think “Do I really need to put that in there?” I’ve been guilty of that in the past. Put me in the slammer. But I implore you, I beseech you, baking friends, do NOT omit the lemon zest in this. The first time I made this cheesecake, I remember blending all of the ingredients together and thinking “I don’t know, is this going to turn into something?” And then I added the lemon zest. Suddenly it WAS cheesecake. The smell was there, and I might have even licked the paddle attachment just to be sure. Don’t judge.
Enjoy this little slice of spring! Happy baking!
- 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers)
- 1 tbsp. white sugar
- 6 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
- 2½ lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature (make sure it's nice and soft and not really cold anymore)
- 1½ cups white sugar
- 5 extra large eggs, at room temperature (let them sit out, or in a pinch submerge the eggs in water for a few minutes)
- 2 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest (about 1½ to 2 lemons, depending on size)
- 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup strawberry jelly (make sure it's jelly and not jam or preserves. It melts better)
- ¾ cup finely diced strawberries (or more to taste if you just love 'em)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- To make the crust, crush the graham crackers either in a food processor, or put them into a storage bag and crush with a rolling pan until you get fine crumbs.
- Mix the 1 tbsp. sugar and butter with the crumbs. Place crumbs in a 9 inch springform pan and pat it down and up the sides about a inch or so.
- Bake the crust for 8 minutes, then allow to cool.
- Raise the temperature of your oven to 450 F.
- For the filling, cream the cream cheese and the 1½ cups sugar together in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment on medium high until well blended and light, about 5 minutes.
- Then reduce the mixer speed to medium and mix in the eggs and yolks, putting them in two at a time. Make sure they get well blended, and scrape the sides of the mixing bowl if you have to.
- Put the mixer on low and add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla, and mix until well blended.
- Bake the cheesecake for 15 minutes, and then turn the temperature down to 225 F. and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- After this time, turn the oven off and open the oven door wide. The cheesecake will still have a jiggle to it, but don't worry.
- Let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes.
- Take the cheesecake out and let it set until it's completely cooled, about 3 hours.
- Wrap and put in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, gently run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosed the cheesecake. Remove the the side of the pan.
- Make the sauce by chopping the strawberries and placing them in a medium bowl.
- Melt the jelly on the stove over medium low heat until it's runny and thinned out a little.
- Pour the jelly over the strawberries and mix.
- If you have enough people to eat all of the cheesecake right away, pour the sauce over the cake and serve. If you need to save some, serve the sauce over individual slices and keep the sauce and cheesecake together separately in the fridge so they don't get funky.