In my humble opinion, a classic New York style cheesecake is one of the best desserts in the world. But, even though it is a simple dessert, I feel like most cheesecakes and cheesecake recipes simply don't hit the mark. But worry not, I have created for you the best cheesecake recipe you will ever eat. It is insanely creamy, decadent and delicious. You will never need another recipe.
THE STORY BEHIND THE BEST CHEESECAKE RECIPE
I first fell in love with cheesecake as a college freshman. Our dining hall used to have a massive dessert bar with different flavors of cheesecake, and you could take one slice as one "side". I remember I became so obsessed with the cheesecakes that I once took a meal that was just five slices of cheesecake. Yup, it was bad. Yes, I did suffer from the freshman 15 (or 20). And so I had to boycott cheesecake for several years to come.
Then came this year, and I had a hankering for a good slice of cheesecake. Strangely, though, I couldn't find any that I actually liked. I tried all the famous places (including The Cheesecake Factory), and found that most baked cheesecakes had a dry, eggy, dense texture. That texture was no bueno, I wanted creamy cheesecake.
So I started developing my own recipe. After a few trials, I made the *perfect* cheesecake. I still remember the first bite: I was genuinely shocked at how good it was. I sent some slices to my friends and they were equally blown away. Here are some verbatim messages I got:
Omg, what a cheesecake! Literally melting in my mouth... perfection!!!!
I would die for this cheesecake. I have never ever had a yummier cheesecake. Truly. Unbiasedly.
I never related with the scene in Friends where Rachel and Chandler eat the cheesecake off the floor. But after tasting this, I know what they must have felt.
So, without further ado, let's dive in!
WHAT MAKES THIS THE BEST CHEESECAKE RECIPE?
Here is why this cheesecake is truly the best you will ever eat or make:
- It is simple and no-fuss. There are no fancy ingredients or complicated steps. All it takes is a little patience and you get rewarded with delicious yumminess
- The flavor is DIVINE. It is perfectly balanced: the cream cheese flavor shines without being over-powering, it isn't too sweet, and it has a touch of sourness that complements the cream cheese flavor and adds a beautiful freshness. In my opinion, it doesn't need any other flavor or topping as it is perfect in itself
- The texture is SUBLIME. This is what truly sets apart this cheesecake. It is not eggy, dry, or dense. Instead, it is creamy, melt-y, and rich. You will understand what I mean when you taste it! Just look at the pictures below to get an idea of the texture...
HOW TO MAKE THIS CHEESECAKE
Check out this video to see the cheesecake recipe in action!
Here is how you can achieve this perfect cheesecake:
1. Use high quality, full-fat ingredients
Don't try to use low-fat ingredients here, you won't get the same result. You want to use:
- Full-fat cream cheese that comes in blocks (not the spreadable kind). I love Philadelphia, but have also used other brands like Great Value and Good and Gather with similar results
- Full fat heavy whipping cream
- Full fat sour cream
2. Bring your ingredients to room temperature
This makes a big difference! You want to place all ingredients out in the kitchen for at least 1-2 hours before you start mixing them. Especially the cream cheese!
3. Pack in the graham cracker crust tightly and pre-bake it
Spend a good 5 minutes tightly packing the crust in the bottom of your pan. Then bake it for just 8 minutes or so before filling with batter. This will help ensure the crust is crispy and not crumbling into the cheesecake.
4. Thoroughly mix the cream cheese and sugar
Take your time in this step! First you will whisk the cream cheese on its own until it is very creamy and spreadable. Then add the sugar and keep whisking until fully combined and no longer grainy. Scrape down the edges of your bowl frequently to make sure there are no unmixed chunks of cream cheese in your batter.
5. Don't over-whisk the eggs and creams
Once you add in the eggs, whisk on low speed only until combined. This is important because both eggs and heavy cream can whip up to hold a lot of air, and we don't want to incorporate air into our batter. We want the batter to be very creamy to get a creamy cheesecake.
6. Bake in a water-bath at low temperature
A cheesecake needs to cooked slowly and evenly to achieve a consistently creamy texture. We ensure this by baking at a low temperature (325F instead of 350F), and using a waterbath. The water cannot go above 212F (100 celcius) so it ensures that the cheesecake doesn't heat too fast.
In order to ensure no water leaks into the cheesecake, you should use an airtight spring-foam pan (don't use an old, loose one), and cover the bottom and edges of the cheesecake pan tightly with aluminum foil.
Also, don't open the oven while baking. We want to avoid sudden changes in temperature, which can cause the cheesecake to crack.
Lastly, remember, the secret is to underbake the cheesecake! You should take it out when the edges seem firm but the middle is very jiggly. If the middle jiggles only a little bit or not at all, you have overbaked the cheesecake and it will now have a denser, eggier texture (still good, though!).
7. Cool the cheesecake overnight
I know, it's hard to wait, but patience is the name of the game! We first let the cheesecake cool down at room temperature, and then place it in the fridge overnight. This will ensure a slow, thorough chilling of the cheesecake which is critical in helping it set properly while retaining the creamy texture.
8. Decorate with whipped cream
The cheesecake is covered with simple, whipped heavy cream (no sugar). This is optional, and you can also play around with other toppings such as sour cream or jams.
(Inside story: I covered my cheesecake with whipped cream only to hide my accidental smearing of red strawberry color in different spots... turned out, piped cream looks really good!)
9. Enjoy the best cheesecake of your life!!!!!!
Don't try to count calories or limit yourself. Life is too short. This is worth it.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What can I use instead of graham crackers for cheesecake crust?
Graham crackers are the signature crust flavor, but if you don't have them in your country, try to find Wheat Digestive biscuits! They taste the same. If you can't even find them, use any plain packaged biscuits you like the flavor of.
How do I tell when my cheesecake is done baking?
Here's what I recommend:
- Do not open the oven until 70 minutes. During this time, just peek through the window to see what the cheesecake looks like. It should be puffy on the edges but visibly underdone in the center
- Around 70-75 min in, you can quickly open the oven door and jiggle the cheesecake gently. It should be firm on the edges but quite jiggly in the center. You can also touch the center of the cheesecake lightly - it should feel firm and bouncy. Close the oven door quickly!
- For an extra creamy cheesecake, take out of the oven at 75 min. For a firmer cheesecake, wait until 80 min
Why is my cheesecake crust soggy?
Chances are, water has leaked into your pan from the water bath. Here are 3 ways to prevent this:
- Use a good quality springform pan that isn't leaky. I like this one
- Tightly wrap the outside of the pan in aluminum foil for double protection. I take 3 large sheets and overlap them in different directions to make sure no water can get in
- If you're not confident in foil, you can put your pan in a larger pan or a silicon mold and then put it in the water bath
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