This cheesecake dessert recipe is for straight cheesecake. You could add a little flour and some lemon zest to go for New York style cream cheesecake, but I prefer this plain cheesecake recipe just like I wrote it out below. Pizza is another matter entirely and I understand the water is what makes the difference for New York pizza!
If you want a cheesecake crust, I recommend either a traditional graham cracker crust or a nut crumb crust with the plain cheesecake. This cheesecake does fine without a heavy crust if you dust the greased pan with graham cracker crumbs. I prepare it this way as a holiday dessert.
Toppings are entirely optional for cheesecakes. If you must have a topping, I recommend a fruit topping for the plain cheesecake recipe. Cherry makes a bright red topping suitable for holiday desserts.
Additional information is available in the Introduction to cheesecakes.
2 pounds cream cheese
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cup sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cream
Directions for Preparation and Baking
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. I use a stone on the bottom rack. If you haven’t prepared your cheesecake crust yet (see crust recipes) or bought a ready-made one, get the crust ready now. If you have a ready-made crust, you may want to toast it in time to be ready for step 5 below, but that is not required.
2. Beat (or use a mixer) the cream cheese and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until well blended.
3. Add the sour cream and continue beating until you have a smooth consistent texture. Once you add eggs (next step) you won’t be able to fix lumps you leave in now.
4. Add the eggs. I don’t usually, but for a truly light cake, separate the eggs and separately beat the whites to at least twice their original volume before adding to the batter along with the optional yolks. Don’t over beat the egg whites. Switch from a mixer to a wooden spoon now. Once the eggs are stirred in, gradually add the milk or cream (which can also be whipped to lighten the cake) and gently stir until smooth. The batter is ready.
5. Pour the batter into your prepared crust.
6. Place the filled crust in the 450°F oven. Once you have the cake in the oven, don’t open the oven door any more than you have to. You may want to add a pan of water to help maintain/restore humidity in the oven. After fifteen minutes reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and continue baking for another hour before you check on the tall cake (45 minutes for shallow cakes, 30 minutes for cupcakes.)
7. After the plain cheesecake has cooled to room temperature, serve or refrigerate the covered cheesecake.
Plain Cheesecake recipe
Chocolate Marble Cheesecake recipe
Chocolate Cheesecake recipe
Praline Cheesecake recipe
Cheesecake Recipes – Introduction
I enjoy baking and making desserts and make cheesecakes occasionally as gifts or for special events. From time to time I get requests for my cheesecake recipes. I make several different cheesecakes, and may make them a little differently each time, but this is an attempt to satisfy requests for “the recipe.” Special thanks to Ron at the Summit Deli for his persistent requests that I write them down.
Here ‘ya go, my friend. It’s all here, from the Plain Cheesecake my daughter prefers, the Chocolate Marble Cheesecake that taught me to love cheesecake, the Praline Cheesecake my friends rave over, and the Pumpkin Cheesecake I put together for a friend’s special holiday request. There is a recipe for chocolate cheesecake and there are separate sections with cheesecake crusts recipes and cheesecake toppings recipes.
My friends know I am mostly vegetarian for over a year now. Cheesecake is NOT on my diet. Cheesecake has milk and eggs and sugar (three strikes, “yer out”) so it is lots of calories and high in butterfat and no veggie nutrients. This makes it very rich and not nutrient dense – typical for desserts. Putting fruit on it does not make it healthful any more than having a diet soda makes eating french fries OK. Nevertheless, there is cheesecake in my refrigerator.
I have made cheesecakes with low fat milk and low fat cheese and they are inferior products. I have made some with sugar substitutes and they are OK at best. I have resolved to make cheesecakes with high fat content and full flavor for the sheer enjoyment of them. I just don’t do it very often. It is a distinct treat for me to eat cheesecake. I tend to make a batch for Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday desserts, to give away as presents, and to take to special events.
Cheesecake Recipes – Variations
The first recipe here is a plain cheesecake recipe. It is a heavy cream cheesecake and serves as a base from which many cheesecakes can be made. With slight modifications it can become a chocolate marble cheesecake with a beautiful swirling two-color effect and rich contrasting flavors, or a praline cheesecake, or even pumpkin cheesecake. One of my favorites is to split the batter into thirds to make a three-layer (chocolate base, plain center, and praline top) cake with a pecan nut crust which I top each slice with a pecan half and zigzag drizzle with Vermont maple syrup. Do I really need to write out the recipe for Chocolate Marble Praline Cheesecake beyond what I just wrote?
For a lighter cake, beat whipping cream and or the egg whites. Or you can leave out the sour cream and double the amount of milk/cream. For a heavier cake use fewer or small eggs. The vanilla I call for is more than other recipes use, but even though I like more, you can reduce it, or even leave out the vanilla and the egg yolks for a strikingly white cake. Just be careful of earthquakes.
Cheesecake Recipes – chocolate in cheesecakes
The chocolate marble cheesecake recipe and chocolate cheesecake recipe both call for chocolate and with either you can use your choice of chocolate. I have used chocolate morsels, baker’s squares and even a candy bar all with good results. I prefer dark unsweetened, but the semi-sweet milk chocolate morsels work, too. You can even forgo the melting and mixing with shortening by substituting straight cocoa. When I make both a plain cheesecake and a chocolate marble in one batch, I double the plain cheesecake batter recipe and use it in both.
Cheesecake Recipes – Springform Pans and Pan sizes
Cheesecakes are best prepared in springform pans. Springform pans allow the wall of the pan to be removed to make it easier to slice and serve. With a given cheesecake recipe, the diameter of the pan affects how thick the cheesecake is, which affects the baking time. You may want to adjust quantities accordingly.
If you want a tall cake with narrow slices, use a 9-inch or smaller springform pan or increase quantities for a larger pan. Going from a 9-inch pan up to a 10-inch or down to an 8-inch requires about a 20% increase or decrease. If you like a shorter cake, don’t fill the pan full which means you could use a larger pan with these quantities. Shorter cakes require less time in the oven.
Cheesecake Recipes – Cheesecake cupcakes
When I bake cheesecakes, I often make several cheesecakes at once from a triple batch. Sometimes I have some extra cheesecake batter after filling the crusts. I use the excess to make cheesecake cupcakes – little individual cheesecakes! You can put crust crumbs in the bottom of foil cupcake liners, or go without the cheesecake crust. Using a cupcake pan, fill the liners with your cheesecake batter. The cupcakes won’t need as long in the oven as baking a cheesecake.
Cheesecake Recipes – Cream cheese preparation
With all cheesecake recipes, lay out the cream cheese ahead of time so it will be close to room temperature when you make the batter. It is easier to beat when it isn’t cold.
Cheesecake Recipes – Baking
Cheesecake Recipes – Baking:
As the cheesecakes bake, they rise, and gradually stiffen in place from the outside toward the center. You can tell how far along this process is by gently jiggling the pan, but this requires opening the oven door which lets out hot humid air, contributing to drying out the cake. You want to continue baking until only a small circle in the center, less than two inches across, will jiggle. You can then turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to continue baking from its own heat another ½ hour or so before opening the oven door to cool the cheesecake.
Cheesecake Recipes – Earthquakes and lighter cakes
When cheesecakes begin to cool they shrink a little. If the center isn’t done when that happens it will “fall” further than the rest of the cake. Another thing that sometimes happens with cooling cakes is the “earthquake” effect when a cake splits wide open. This affects appearance but not flavor and texture.
If you beat egg whites and whipping cream before adding to the batter, the batter is going to occupy more volume and you may have extra batter when you fill the pans. These lighter cakes are also at a greater risk of splitting when they cool. Do not over beat when stirring the eggs or cream into the batter.
One way to reduce the chances of a quake is to carefully run a thin knife around the edge of the springform pan so the cake can shrink without being stretched as it cools.
Another way to reduce earthquakes is to cover the cake after it has cooled for at least ½ hour. This way the cake does not dry as much as it cools. This works better on cheesecakes that are going to have a topping applied, since water drops from condensation can mottle the appearance of the surface of the cheesecake.
By the way, eggs or whipped cream that is over beaten will cause a cheesecake to fall like a failed soufflé.
Cheesecake Recipes – serving cheesecake
I prefer to serve cheesecake close to room temperature instead of cold because I like the smoother texture and enhanced flavor. My daughter prefers it cold, right out of the refrigerator. You can set out slices to warm individually without having to wait for the entire cake to warm. This is a matter of personal preference.
Cheesecake Recipes – freezing cheesecake
A refrigerated cheesecake can be frozen if well wrapped. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator while still wrapped.
Cheesecake Recipes – about cheesecake crusts
I have provided three crust recipes. With the chocolate marble cheesecake you can use your choice of crust as the chocolate marble cheesecake goes well with nearly any crust, including the basic crust, a chocolate cookie crust, or a pecan nut crust. The crusts available in grocery stores work nicely, but are too small for the full recipe – unless you make two!
With any crust you prepare, start by greasing the baking pan (springform pan preferred) with butter and dust lightly with Graham cracker crumbs or your crust crumbs. Chill the dusted pan until you are ready to press in your crust. You can use this dusting as the crust if you want to avoid a heavy crust altogether.Nut crumb crust
Cheesecake Recipes – About Toppings
Cheesecake does not require toppings or glazes, but if you want, fresh fruit, or fruit and fruit syrup or whipped cream work well. A glaze can fill and hide cracks. Here are some other toppings.Berry
Cheesecake Recipes – choices, choicesThere are many varieties of cheesecakes. Here are some of my favorite cheesecake recipes:
Plain Cheesecake recipe
Chocolate Marble Cheesecake recipe
Chocolate Cheesecake recipe
Praline Cheesecake recipe