New York Cheesecake

I could think all week long and be unable to come up with the words to adequately describe this cheesecake.  But actions speak louder than words, so I’ll just say this – I ate nearly half of this cheesecake on my own over the course of a week.  Yeah, thank goodness I work out.  Normally I have no problem practicing restraint around the various desserts I make, but I am powerless against this cheesecake.  Last week we had some family in town visiting, and one evening they came over to our house for dinner.  I made a great Italian meal and served this for dessert.  It was sublime.  After the evening was over I still had half a cheesecake left and complained to Ben about having so much left over.  He suggested taking it to work with him – but I couldn’t part with it.  And then proceeded to eat it all myself (with a little help from Ben).

For any “Friends” fans out there, in the episode where Rachel and Chandler eat all the stolen cheesecakes, this is exactly as I always imagined those would taste.   I served it with a quick strawberry sauce, but honestly, this needs no accompaniment and I think it is even better plain.  The texture is absolutely perfect – creamy, thick, smooth and it slices beautifully.  The only thing I will do differently next time is to turn the cheesecake midway through baking for more even browning on top.  This was not indicated in the recipe but it should be.  An instant read thermometer is really the best way to ensure that your cheesecake is fully cooked, and it is a very useful kitchen tool overall, so if you don’t have one just get one.  It is an inexpensive good investment and you’ll be glad you did!

New York Cheesecake
For the crust:
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 additional tbsp., melted for greasing the pan
4 oz. (approx. 8 whole) graham crackers, broken into rough pieces and processed into fine, even crumbs*
1 tbsp. sugar

(*Note – if you have a kitchen scale, definitely weigh the graham crackers.  I found the amount to be significantly different than the number of whole crackers they suggest.  Of course, it varies depending on size/brand of cracker.)
For the cheesecake: 
2 1/2 lb. (5 8-oz. pkgs.) cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature 

To make the crust, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter.  In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, 5 tablespoons melted butter, and sugar.  Toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.  Transfer the crumbs to the springform pan and use the bottom of a ramekin to firmly press the crumbs evenly into the pan bottom.  (Note: this is a fabulous technique!  I have used it several times since, and it does a great job.)  Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.

Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees F.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute.  Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions.  (Note: with all this scraping of the sides, a side swipe beater blade is incredibly helpful.  I still used a spatula just to be extra careful, but the side swipe was a big help.)

Brush the sides of the springform pan with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter.  Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills in case the pan leaks.  Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake 10 minutes; without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1 1/2 hours.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Run a paring knife between the cake and the springform pan sides.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.  

To unmold the cheesecake, removed the sides of the pan.  Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the bottom of the pan to loosen, then slide the cake onto a serving plate.  Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.  (Use a long, thin, sharp knife that has been run under hot water and then dried for slicing.  Wipe the blade clean and rewarm between slices.)

Source: slightly adapted from Baking Illustrated

39 Responses

  1. I haven’t had a good old New York style cheesecake in ages. Thanks for sharing yours.

  2. This cheesecake looks absolutely perfect, great job! Question: do you use a water bath when you cook your cheesecake or no? I used to love baking cheesecakes but quit when I realized I couldn’t master the baking technique. Maybe I should give this one a try!

    • Hi Sarah!
      I have made several cheesecakes before, some with water baths and some without. I really just do whatever that particular recipe calls for, but I have never had a problem either way. This is definitely the best of all the recipes I’ve tried though, I would highly recommend it!
      🙂 Annie

  3. That looks so good, I’m totally drooling over the pictures 🙂 I will have to try this!

  4. I’ve had the same problem with Cooks Illustrated’s graham cracker crusts – for some reason, the number of crackers they call for never seems correct, either by weight or by how many crumbs they produce.

  5. Looks wonderful! I am definitely a cheesecake addict, and I haven’t tried this one yet. I’ll have to come up with an excuse 😉

  6. It’s gorgeous! My husband would love it! He absolutely loves cheesecake.

  7. to be honest I really did NOT want to click on the link in my reader…it’s way too food porn for me. I love nothing more than a simple cheesecake with fresh strawberries on top–EXACTLY like you did, exactly.
    Perfection my dear.

  8. That looks so delicious and perfect! The last cheesecake I made had cracks all on top. :o( Maybe I will try this one the next time I want cheesecake and see how it goes.

  9. Yum!! Those strawberries take it over the top for me . . . 😀

  10. With all those eggs, I’m sure this cheesecake is very rich. I made a cheesecake recently, too (and blogged about it). I’m curious about this one.

  11. This is very similar to my go-to cheesecake recipe from Gourmet magazine. It is fabulous and about as fool-proof as a cheesecake can be. I think you showed remarkable restraint by only eating half of it! 🙂

  12. Great job – this looks awesome and just like the cheesecakes I’ve had in NYC!

  13. Beautifully done basic cheesecake! I have found that this method of cooking (regular, then reducing temp with door shut for a long time) is the best way to cook cheesecakes without the fuss or trouble of a water bath. Great photos!!

  14. Yum, I love cheesecake and grew up eating Junior’s. Yours looks perfect!

  15. Wow!!! That looks beautiful!! I will definitely have to try this one.

  16. Looks delicious….I love cheesecake!

  17. you know…I happen to love this type cheesecake with no extra toppings. I usually am a topping queen, but this soft and rich tasting treat is plenty on it’s on for me. I can imagine the perfect texture inside. YUM!

  18. I LOVE cheesecake and this one looks so delicious!

  19. I can’t make this or I won’t eat just half – I’ll eat the whole thing.

    It’s perfect. Not a single crack? You astound me.

  20. Those America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated folks really know what they’re doing! This looks fabulous. You baked it perfectly! No cracks, and that brown top is my favorite part!

  21. Looks delicious! I was wondering what kind of instant read thermometer you have? Is it safe to put in water? Kind of random question, hehe.

    • Hi Calabazapie,
      Not a stupid question! I have a Pyrex instant read thermometer. It is not my favorite but it does the job and it is inexpensive. Cook’s Illustrated recommends Thermapen brand and I hope to get one of those eventually. I have used my Pyrex to check the temp of water often.
      🙂 Annie

  22. Cheesecake is my all time favourite dessert. I think if I was stranded on a deserted island my one thing would be cheesecake…yours looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

  23. I always wanted to jump into that Friends episode and eat it with them. It looks very much like it. I will have to make this my first cheesecake endeavor.

  24. I am so excited to try your recipe for cheesecake! It’s my husband’s favorite and he and his brother have both requested cheesecake for their birthday desserts. I know there are millions of recipes out there, but I trust yours without a doubt!
    I’ll have to let you know how it turns out (esp. since it’s my first “true” cheesecake)!

    • Ooh, Melanie, you’re going to love it! I’m telling you, I just can’t say enough good things about this recipe. The people at ATK have not let me down yet, but this recipe in particular is divine. Enjoy!
      🙂 Annie

  25. Annie! It was amazing! Everyone raved! Mine wasn’t picture perfect, but it tasted great and since I was nervous about baking it well without a thermometer I was thrilled with the results.

  26. This was delicious, my first cheesecake. I couldn’t get the crust separated from the bottom of the pan though, something went awry. Due to the fact it was my first attempt, no doubt.

  27. Ack, you’re right about everything – this cheesecake is perfection, and having leftovers in the fridge is very, very dangerous. I think I see some edges that need smoothing…

    My cheesecake looks different from yours though. The top is not browned, it has a small crack in it, and the middle isn’t quite as solid.

  28. Bought a springform pan today to make this recipe tomorrow. My family is very excited!

  29. It was wonderful! It browned beautifully and the texture was amazing! Unfortunately it cracked in the middle. I will do a few things differently next time. I don’t think I had enough butter on the sides of the pan and I think my oven may run a little hot. I also have read about not over mixing after adding the eggs. Thanks for this blog-I am having a girls night in on May 22nd and plan to use a few of the recipes for appetizers.

  30. Thanks for the recipe. This is hands down the best cheesecake I have ever baked and I have baked many. My family thought it was to die for.

  31. Hi! Me again! Still snooping around your amazing site. And I’ve got to say there are few things more exciting to me than finding a new, great cheesecake recipe, so I can’t wait to try this and will write again when I have! In the meantime, and as a thank you to you for so many wonderful recipes, here is my recommendation for a cheesecake truly TDF! Have you tried Epicurious’s Mascarpone Cheesecake with Vanilla Cracker Crust? The crust is a little too sweet for me (going to try Junior’s sponge cake crust with it next), but the cheesecake? O.M.G., O.M.G., O.M.G.!!! So far I’ve not tasted anything to compare with it, but this recipe may just be the one to do it. At the very least, they’ll probably be neck ‘n neck. I’ll let you know . . .

  32. I made this cheesecake last night and my family and I have been snacking on it all day. It is so delicious and I think it is even better than the Cheesecake Factory. I covered it in strawberries that were macerated and a whip cream border. OH and it did not crack one bit. It looked just like yours does in the picture. Thank you so much for this recipe.

  33. I made this cheesecake for a luncheon at work, and it turned out beautifully! I got so many compliments and everyone was so impressed!!! Thanks for such a great recipe!

  34. I have to make this solely because I am a huge friends fan and have always craved cheesecake when watching that episode 🙂

  35. I made this for my sisters birthday. It tastes just wonderful! Mine cracked on the top. I have made several versions of cheesecakes and have struggled with cracking. What am I doing wrong? Please help!!!!

    • Honestly, I’m not sure what causes cracking or not. I’ve made several cheesecake recipes and have never had one crack on me, but they all use different techniques – some with water bath, some without, some cooling in the warm turned off oven – I just don’t know the science of cheesecakes yet to know what causes the cracks. Sorry!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: