In my personal opinion, this is a PERFECT CHEESECAKE (a modified combo of my two favorite but not-quite-perfect recipes from Southern Living and a Cheesecake Factory copycat). It looks complicated but it’s very easy to make!
The possibilities with this recipe are endless. Some of my favorite toppings are caramel and/or chocolate sauce, candied pecans, pie filling (I love cherry and apple), or my favorite when in season, candied wild violets.
Printable .doc: Cheesecake Recipe
2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (sometimes I use vanilla wafers instead, also delicious)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
Pinch of salt
4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup Daisy sour cream
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
5 large room temp eggs (room temp is important)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap outside of a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Stir together four ingredients in a bowl. Press onto bottom and 2/3 of the way up the side of prepared pan, using your hands or the flat bottom of a measuring cup.
Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. (Blind baking the crust gives a better end result!) Cool on a wire rack until ready to use. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Put kettle of water on stovetop and bring to simmer; pull out a roasting pan.
Beat softened cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Stir in sour cream and vanilla extract at low speed. The filling must be completely smooth—think: smooth like velvet or satin. I prefer to let the batter sit at room temp for about an hour, then pour into springform pan and tap gently on a countertop several times to release air bubbles.
Place springform pan in roasting pan, pop in the oven. Add hot water to reach halfway up sides of springform pan.
Bake at 325°F until center is almost set (but still slightly wobbly), between about 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes (mine always takes the latter). No peeking! Turn off the oven, and let cheesecake stand in oven, with door partially open, for about 1 hour.
Remove cheesecake from roasting pan and water bath, and place on wire rack. Cool completely at room temp, about 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap, do not allow wrap to touch top of cheesecake. Chill 8 to 24 hours.
Gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. Remove sides of pan. Garnish as you please!