Classic Cheesecake

Submitted by: Suzanne McMinn on April 5, 2011

Cheesecake is one of those “fancy” desserts that is surprisingly easy to make.

Servings: 12   Prep Time: 20 minutes   Cook Time: 35-40 minutes  

Ingredients

2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup butter, melted
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk


Directions

Combine crushed graham crackers, walnuts, and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Stir well. Place a 9-inch springform pan on a shallow baking pan. (The baking pan is for support and just in case something were to leak out of the springform pan.) Dump the crumb mixture into the springform pan. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom and up the sides about two inches.


In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, and vanilla. Beat well. Add eggs and egg yolk. Beat again, just enough to mix. Stir in the milk. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake at 375-degrees for 35-40 minutes for a 9-inch pan. (If using an 8-inch pan, 45-50 minutes.) The center should appear nearly set–but not quite–if you shake it. Cool 15 minutes before slightly loosening the sides. (Just unlock the latch on the side of the springform pan, but don’t take it off yet.) Give it another 30 minutes before releasing the sides completely. Slide it onto a cake keeper (bottom of the springform pan still in place), cover, and tuck in the fridge. Chill for at least four hours before slicing.

For toppings, melt semisweet chocolate, or make a fruit sauce out of any jam by diluting the jam with a little bit of water, just enough to bring it to drizzling consistency. (Homemade jam makes the easiest fruit sauces!) I made this one with an easy caramel sauce topped with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts.

Caramel Sauce:
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup light cream or milk
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, cornstarch, and water. Stir in cream and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium-high heat till bubbly. Cook 2 more minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. (This is also a great ice cream topping.)

For other cheesecake variations, you could use cinnamon or chocolate graham crackers, or even crushed gingersnaps, for the crust. You could also use a cream liqueur instead of milk in the cheesecake batter. To make a swirled cheesecake, melt 2 ounces of semisweet chocolate or use a couple tablespoons of any fruit jam–add the flavor to half of the cheesecake batter. Pour each half of the batter into the pan and swirl gently through the entire batter with a spoon or spatula.

Tip about slicing cheesecake: Dip a sharp knife in hot water then dry it on a clean towel before making each cut to prevent bits of cheesecake from transferring to the next slice.

Store refrigerated.

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