The Ultimate Cheesecake

This is the only cheesecake that I will ever make, ever again.  It is tall, smooth, creamy, tangy, and delicious.  For an extra treat, cover with berries of your desire.  Adapted from Dorie Greenspan and www.crumblycookie.net.

Ingredients

  • 1.75 c gingersnap cookie crumbs (you can use any kind of cookie for this – simply put it in a food processor and blend until it is the texture of sand)
  • 3 T sugar
  • 4 T salted butter, melted
  • 2 lbs (about 4 250 g boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1.5 c creme fraiche (or sour cream)

Instructions

  1. Butter a 9″ springform pan (use one which is tall, ~2.5″ high), and wrap fully in two layers of aluminum foil – set aside.
  2. Stir cookie crumbs and sugar together in a medium bowl, and combine with butter – mix until uniformly moist, about the texture of wet sand.  (Add extra butter if needed – you do not want the crust to be too dry, as you will need to press it into the side of the springform pan.)
  3. Use cookie mixture to cover the bottom of springform pan – pat an even layer of crumbs along the pan, and slightly up the sides.  (Don’t worry if the sides are not even, or if the crumbs do not reach very far up the sides – the most important thing is to cover the seam of the springform pan with crumbs to create a seal for the cheesecake batter.)
  4. Put pan in freezer to chill for 10 minutes.
  5. Center a rack in oven and preheat to 350 F.  Bake crust for 10-12 minutes, until it has just gone golden brown (i.e. the color changes ever so slightly).
  6. Set crust aside to cool and reduce oven heat to 325 F.
  7. Boil a kettle of water.
  8. Working with a stand or hand mixer, beat cream cheese at medium speed in a large bowl, about 4 minutes, until it is light and creamy.
  9. Add sugar, salt, and vanilla, and beat another 4 minutes or so, until well combined and still light.
  10. Add eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition, to keep the batter well-aerated.
  11. Reduce mixer speed to low and add creme fraiche – combine until well-mixed and no chunks remain.
  12. Put foil wrapped springform pan into a large roasting pan, and scrape batter into springform pan – the batter will reach near the brim of the pan.
  13. Put the roasting pan in the oven, and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come up about halfway up the sides of the pan.  Be very careful not to get any water inside the springform pan itself!
  14. Bake cheesecake for 1.5 hours, at which point the top will be gently browned.  (The inside of the cheesecake should read 150 F.)
  15. Turn off oven and prop open the door, leaving the cheesecake to “luxuriate” in its water bath for another hour.
  16. Remove springform pan from water bath and let cool to room temperature.  Chill cake for at least 4 hours or overnight.

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