The Best Cheesecake Ever

The Best Cheesecake Ever

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This is the best cheesecake ever!

THE END.

I could stop there, but I won’t leave you wondering why it’s the best cheesecake ever. Besides, I really don’t mind talking to you about cheesecake.

This is a creamy, silky and ultra-smooth classic cheesecake complete with a buttery homemade graham cracker crust. While this looks like a traditional New York Style cheesecake it comes with a slight twist. This cheesecake gets a richer dense creaminess from both ricotta cheese and sour cream.

seth and grandpa

Our grandson Seth came to spend a week with us last month. David took the week off with him so they could do the stuff grandpas and grandsons do, like going fishing, riding go-carts, browsing in sporting good stores and lots of grilling and eating! It was a fun-filled week, to say the least.

We really missed having Seth last year. Unfortunately, it did not work out for him to come up and visit. So this year needed to be extra special. I like to make desserts when he comes up and I usually make zucchini bread. This time I wanted to do something different. I had David text him before he came to find out what his favorite dessert was. Seth said his favorite dessert was cheesecake. So that is what I made!

seth in canoe with fish

I’ve had this recipe for more years than I can count and made it several times before I started this blog six years ago. So when I found out Seth wanted cheesecake I pulled this out of my recipe arsenal, and I did my best to make him the best cheesecake ever!

Here’s how I made it…

the best cheesecake ever sliced with mountain view

How To Make The Best Cheesecake Ever

For best results, mix all of the ingredients together at room temperature. This allows the ingredients to come together quickly and allows them to combine smoothly. There’s nothing worse than chunky cream cheese cheesecake… bleh!

The Ingredient List:

  1. Cream Cheese: There are only 12-ounces or 1 ½ blocks of cream cheese in this cheesecake. Typically there is much more cream cheese in most recipes, but this isn’t your typical cheesecake either. 
  2. Ricotta Cheese: 15-ounces of ricotta cheese is also added with the cream cheese. The ricotta is the secret ingredient that gives added depth and richness. I highly recommend that you make ricotta cheese from scratch. It only requires cheesecloth and 4 ingredients to make and it is so worth the extra effort to make. It always is.
    Get the homemade ricotta cheese recipe I use HERE.
  3. Sugar: There’s only one cup of sugar in this cheesecake. It really isn’t a lot considering that it will divide into 16 slices. The sugar adds balance to the tang, which is exactly how cheesecake is supposed to taste.
  4. Eggs: 2 large eggs + 2 egg whites are used to thicken this cheesecake. The egg proteins are emulsified and unwind linking them together to give this cheesecake an amazingly smooth texture.
  5. Flavor: ½ teaspoon lemon zest + 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice in addition to ½ teaspoon almond extract are added into this cheesecake. The lemon brightens up the dense cheesecake while the almond extract adds a nutty warmth that balances the flavors.
    Vanilla extract is normally added to cheesecakes, to round out the flavor. However, almond extract gives it more depth of flavor and adds an element of surprise. Most people won’t quite be able to put their finger on its unique taste. Use vanilla extract only if you don’t have any almond extract on hand.
  6. Sour Cream: 1 cup of sour cream gives a soft silkiness to this cheesecake.
  7. Flour: Last, but not least, ¼ cup all-purpose flour is added at the end to give extra insurance against cracking. The flour also makes the slices cleaner. Too much flour can change the texture, but ¼ cup is the perfect amount.

A Lighter Recipe?

If I’m going to make a cheesecake, I want the real deal. However, the original recipe called for light ingredients. I’ve never used light ingredients, so I cannot speak of the taste and consistency when they are used. By using light sour cream, cream cheese, and ricotta cheese instead of regular full-fat ingredients you can save over 60 calories. That means this cheesecake would be only 180 calories per slice!

Helpful Equipment: 

I recommend two things when making this cheesecake, a springform pan, and a food processor. The springform pan is about the presentation, but not absolutely necessary. However you really do need a food processor, but you could also use a blender if you do not have one. An electric mixer will work, but a food processor does a much better job of breaking up the ingredients which give the cheesecake such a smooth texture.

Preheat the Oven and Prepare a Springform Pan:

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Then wrap the outside of the springform pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. The foil will ensure water from the water bath does not penetrate the seal of the springform pan. Set aside until needed. (Keep reading for details about the water bath) 

ingredients to make crust

Make The Homemade Graham Cracker Crust:

There are only 4 ingredients needed to make the graham cracker crust. The ingredients are graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter.

The crust was made using corn syrup in the original recipe for this cheesecake. Any time I can cut that crap out of a recipe I do, besides, the sugars are a much better choice. The molasses in the brown sugar adds some very nice flavor.

graham cracker crumbs in food processor

To make the graham cracker crumbs, add the graham crackers to a food processor or blender and process until they become fine crumbs. Alternatively, you can place the crackers in a zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin or mallet.

Turn the graham crackers out directly into the prepared springform pan. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar, mixing with a fork. 

Microwave the butter in a microwave-safe bowl on high in 15-second intervals, until melted. Drizzle the graham cracker mixture with the melted butter. Stir until it is well combined and all of the crumbs are moistened and become similar to the look and feel of beach sand.

drizzling butter into graham cracker crumbs

Using the bottom of a measuring cup or small glass, firmly press the graham cracker mixture down into an even layer on the bottom and up a little around the sides of the pan. 

measuring cup pressing graham cracker crust

Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool. 

Oven Temperature Adjustment:

The graham cracker crust bakes at a higher temperature than the cheesecake. At this point, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. 

What’s a Water Bath?

Cheesecakes love humidity, so the best way to avoid cheesecake cracks is to prepare a water bath for the cheesecake to bake in. Basically, the springform pan that the cheesecake is baked in is placed inside a larger pan with hot water inside.

While you mix up the cheesecake, bring a medium pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. This way you don’t have to wait for the water to heat for the water bath when the cheesecake is ready to go into the oven.

Combine the Cheesecake Ingredients:

In a food processor or blender process the ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, egg whites, lemon zest, lemon juice and almond extract for 30 seconds. Leave the machine running and add the cream cheese a few chunks at a time. Process until smooth.

Remove the top and give it a stir with a spatula to ensure there are no solid pieces of cream cheese and the mixture is extremely smooth.

Add the sour cream and flour. Pulse until smooth.

creamy smooth cheesecake batter inside food processor

Pour the cheesecake mixture onto the prepared crust inside the springform pan. Give the pan a few gentle taps on the counter to make some of the air bubbles rise up to the top.

Place the foil-wrapped springform pan into the center of a shallow roasting pan. Add the boiling water to the pan to come up 1-inch up on the sides of the springform pan.

cheesecake inside a springform pan with water bath

Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Turn off the oven leaving the cheesecake inside. Now let the cheesecake to stand for 30 minutes before removing from the oven. This will allow the temperature to gently lower inside the oven. This will help prevent cracks from forming in the cheesecake from the cheesecake cooling too fast.

Remove the water-filled roasting pan from the oven and carefully lift out the springform pan. Allow the cheesecake to cool on a metal rack.

When the cheesecake has cooled, refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

Serving the Cheesecake:

The Best Cheesecake Ever doesn’t need toppings, but toppings never hurt any cheesecake. 

If you recall the caramel sauce recipe I shared last week. I revisited that recipe when I made this cheesecake for Seth. It was a great topping and we all highly recommend it.

Other toppings such as this Cherry Pie Filling or other seasonal berries, or even chocolate would be good too.

caramel sauce drizzled onto cheesecake

What would you top this cheesecake with? We want to know. Comment below!

The Best Cheesecake Ever

Creamy, silky and ultra-smooth cheesecake with cream cheese, ricotta and sour cream complete with a buttery graham cracker crust. The best cheesecake ever!
For best results, all ingredients should be mixed together at room temperature.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Best, Cheesecake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 16
Calories 240kcal

Ingredients

The Graham Cracker Crust:

  • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs about 11 graham crackers
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons butter melted

The Cheesecake:

  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese at room temperature. Homemade is best!
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 egg whites at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 12 ounces cream cheese  softened at room temperature, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup sour cream at room temperature
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Then wrap the outside of the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil to ensure water will not get inside. Set aside.
  • Add the graham crackers to a food processor or blender and process until they become fine crumbs. Alternatively, place the crackers in a zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin or mallet.
  • Turn the graham crackers out directly into the prepared springform pan. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar, mixing with a fork.
    Microwave the butter in a microwave-safe bowl on high in 15-second intervals, until melted.

    Drizzle the graham cracker mixture with butter. Stir until well combined and all of the crumbs are moistened and become similar to the look and feel of beach sand.
  • Using the bottom of a measuring cup or small glass, firmly press the graham cracker mixture down into an even layer on the bottom and up around the sides of the pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
  • Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  • In a food processor or blender process the ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, egg whites, lemon zest, lemon juice and almond extract for 30 seconds. Leave the machine running and add the cream cheese a few chunks at a time. Process until smooth. Remove the top and give it a stir with a spatula to ensure there are no solid pieces of cream cheese and the mixture is extremely smooth.
  • Add the sour cream and flour. Pulse until smooth.
  • Pour the cheesecake mixture onto the prepared crust inside the springform pan. Give the pan a few gentle taps on the counter to make some of the air bubbles rise up to the top.
  • Place the foil-wrapped springform pan into the center of a shallow roasting pan. Add the boiling water to the pan to come up 1-inch up on the sides of the springform pan.
  • Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Turn off the oven leaving the cheesecake inside. Let stand for 30 minutes before removing from the oven.
  • Remove the water-filled roasting pan from the oven and carefully lift out the springform pan. Allow the cheesecake to cool on a metal rack.
    When the cheesecake has cooled, refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

Notes

For best results, all ingredients should be mixed together at room temperature, so that the ingredients come together quickly and combine smoothly. There’s nothing worse than chunky cream cheese cheesecake… bleh!
Homemade Ricotta Cheese is highly recommended, however I have used store-bought and it works well.
What’s a Water Bath? Cheesecakes love humidity, so the best way to avoid cheesecake cracks is to prepare a water bath for the cheesecake to bake in. Basically, the springform pan that the cheesecake is baked in is placed inside a larger pan with hot water inside.
A Lighter Cheesecake?
If I’m going to make a cheesecake, I want the real deal. However, the original recipe for this cheesecake called for light ingredients. I’ve never used light ingredients, so I cannot speak of the taste and consistency of the cheesecake. By using light sour cream, cream cheese, and ricotta cheese instead of regular full-fat ingredients you can save over 60 calories. That means this cheesecake would be only 180 calories per slice!
Click HERE for the Caramel Sauce recipe.
This recipe is adapted from Healthy Recipes in Minutes™

Nutrition

Calories: 240kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 147mg | Potassium: 98mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 539IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 1mg
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The Mountain Kitchen

Hi, my name is Debbie, Author and Photographer at The Mountain Kitchen, a blog that shares delicious homemade recipes using clean food ingredients, and stories about mountain life.
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