So here’s the deal with cheesecake…
I’ve never been a big fan.
I know, crazy right?
I’m also not uber crazy about ice cream…
It’s not that I don’t like cheesecake (or ice cream) or that I don’t ever eat it, but if I have to pick something off a menu when I’m out, it’s never one of those (full disclosure: if my fam ever goes to an ice cream shop in the summer, I hardly ever order anything…I know, uber weird).
But, now that I’m older (and kinda wiser but not always), I’m starting to think it’s my body’s way of saying “yo, you can have this if you want but you’ll regret it later”.
Not because of the calories, but rather, because of the lactose.
Yes, people, I am lactose intolerant.
So maybe my lack of excitement for all thing lactose was to save me pain (although I can scarf back a kilo of cheese like nobody’s business…yup there’s pain but I’ll take one for the team!).
But, I digress.
I’m telling you all of this because people always ask for cheesecake recipes and I just never felt like making it.
However, today, my nephew asked for cheesecake for his birthday so I figured, this will be the day we “do” cheesecake on the blog! Yipee for food requests!
I remember when my daughter and I were in New York years ago, we went to Junior’s for cheesecake because that’s what we were told to do…
This is what I read before going: “The recipe for Junior’s famous original cheesecake has been baked the very same way since the 1950s. And for good reason. It’s simply The Best cheesecake you can find. “There will never be a better cheesecake than the cheesecake they serve at Junior’s … it’s the best cheesecake in New York,” wrote Ron Rosenblum (Village Voice, July 26, 1973). The next year, a jury of six cool-headed cheesecake lovers for New York magazine named Junior’s the Champion Cheesecake. It’s light but not crumbly, oh-so-creamy but not dense, and with that heavenly cream cheese flavor that makes Junior’s New York cheesecake famous the world over.”
My recipe is adapted from the original 1950s Junior’s recipe and I’m even going to give you some tips on making it perfect (although, I think cheesecake, if you follow the instructions, is a pretty easy dessert to make!!)
Here are the typical problems you encounter when making cheesecake (and how to solve them):
The top of your cheesecake cracks while you’re baking it – a) The biggest reason for this is not enough moisture in your oven (which is why a water bath is crucial) so keep an eye on the water surrounding the cheesecake and always add more if it dries out. b) Either your oven is too hot (I always tell people to use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is at the right temperature – and if it isn’t, get it calibrated) or you’ve overcooked it which causes cracking (you can see the crack on the top of this cheesecake and it was totally due to over baking…my dog walk took longer than anticipated!!).
The cheesecake was perfect when I took it out but then it cracked after – a) This is probably due to not mixing the ingredients properly (there should be no lumps). b) If the cheesecake was cooked too long or too fast, it may crack as it cools/shrinks. c) You moved the cake too much when you took it out of the oven.
The cheesecake fell in the center as it cooled – a) The cheesecake is probably under cooked or b) you put the cheesecake in the refrigerator too soon before it cooled.
The cheesecake slices are messy and gummy – To avoid this, dip your knife in hot water and wipe it clean before every single cut.
5. You can’t decide what to serve it with – I’m probably the worst person to talk to about this (I mean, do you know ANYONE more “extra” than me when it comes to food?) but with cheesecake, sometimes, plain and simple is best. If you want to fix mistakes (aka cracking), just dust it with icing/powdered sugar…
…or, like we did here, just whip up a decadent hot fudge sauce! You can pour it over but why not just let your guests decide? Have a bowl of cut up fruit ready, a jar full of this sauce and maybe a bowl of freshly whipped cream. I’d say that’s a pretty epic way to end your meal!
And the best part is, if (and that’s a big IF) there are any leftovers, cheesecake freezes magnificently. Make sure you cut it into slices and wrap them well. This way, when you’re working at home and need a sugar fix for that 3pm slump, you’l have a glorious treat to conquer that rut!!
Junior's famous original cheesecake
This is one of the easiest cakes to make. Just follow this recipe exactly as I have it and you'll soon proudly be slicing up the best cheesecake you've ever tasted!
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (you can sub in any cookie crumb here)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese use only full fat, at room temperature
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 small can condensed milk
- 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make the crust by mixing the crumbs, sugar and melted butter together until completely mixed. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (the best way is to press it down with the bottom of a glass) and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack while preparing filling. Keep the oven on.
In the bowl of an electric mixer (using the paddle attachment if your mixer has one), beat 1 package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch together on low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl several times. Blend in the next package of cream cheese and 1/3 of the sugar and mix again. Add the remaining two packages, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each.
Increase the mixer speed to medium speed and beat in the remaining sugar and vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the cream just until completely blended (the filling will be light and airy). Be careful not to overmix! Gently pour the batter over the crust.
Wrap the bottom of the springform pan with foil to ensure no water gets in and place the pan in a larger shallow pan filled with hot water that comes halfway (about 1 inch) up the side of the pan. Bake until the edge is light golden brown, the top is light gold, and the center barely jiggles, about 1 1/4 hours.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours. Then, leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold before serving, preferably overnight or for at least 6 hours.
When ready to serve release and remove the side of the springform, leaving the bottom of the pan in place. Place on a cake plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice with a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one, rinsing the knife with warm water between slices. Refrigerate any leftover cake, tightly covered, and enjoy within 2 days, or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.
To make the hot fudge sauce, use a medium-sized glass bowl or microwave container and add chocolate and butter to the bowl and microwave for 2 minutes to melt.
Once the butter melts completely and the chocolate is slightly soft, pour in the condensed milk, water to the bowl. Microwave all ingredients for 3-4 minutes, not at once but a minute at a time
Take the bowl out to stir and combine after each minute until all ingredients are mixed well. Store in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator until cheesecake is ready. When ready, slightly reheat in the microwave and pour over cheesecake and serve.
Always bake the cheesecake in a water bath as they do at Junior's. It keeps the heat in the oven moist and helps the cake bake slowly, gently, and evenly. It also helps to ensure that your cake will have a smooth top, with no large cracks.