Don't cheat. Use real lemon zest.
I'm trying something new today. I've never made cheesecake. Ever. It looks scary. But I like to try new things. I like cheesecake. A lot. And I like expanding my repertoire. So what the heck. I'm going to try to make a New York style cheesecake. Right now.
Since I've never made one before, I won't be toying with any recipes or devising my own (but if this turns out well, you can bet I'll be back again to make my own recipes). Instead, I'll be using this recipe from Joy of Baking.
I'll take pictures as I go, so that if you find cheesecake intimidating, too, you can see each step as I go. I have been unable to find a site with adequate step-by-step photography, which I think is a must for tricky recipes or anything involving a spring form pan.
Cue Frankenstein music. Or any music that creates a mysterious, slightly frightening, mood. Here I go...
First things first: Find and grease a 9" spring form pan. Now set your oven to 350 degrees.
Next, you'll need to make your crust. Using your food processor, crumb some graham crackers until you have 2 cups of crumbs. For me, this took about 15 sheets. I used Honey Maid Honey Grahams. Add 1/2 cup of melted butter and 1/4 cup of sugar to your crumbs.
Mix this up to combine well. The directions at Joy of Baking say to use a medium mixing bowl. I find it easier to use something wide and shallow, like a pie dish. This enables me to see all the crumbs and use a fork to mix in the sugar and butter evenly.
Press your crust mixture onto the bottom and up an inch of the side of your springform pan:
Now, the directions say to cover your crust and stick it in the fridge while you're making your filling. I don't know if a chilled crust is imperative for cheesecake or not, but I'm not skipping any steps this time around.
On to the filling: Joy of Baking stresses this importance of beating at a low speed. This helps prevent your cheesecake from cracking during the baking process.
In your mixing bowl (I use a KitchenAid stand mixer, and consider it indispensible in my kitchen), dump 4- 8 ounce bricks of full-fat cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
Here's where it's confusing. In the notes before the recipe, I'm encouraged to use low speed to mix. In the recipe, I'm told to use medium speed. I'm going with medium low. Anyway, mix the cheese, sugar, and flour, for two minuets, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
Now, add five eggs, one at a time. Mix the filling well between additions. The recipes says to beat for 30 seconds between eggs, so it will take a few minutes to get all the eggs in there. I'm taking my time with it.
Now, add in 1 tablespoon of freshly grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, and 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream. Beat the filling until it's combined well.
Don't cheat. Use real lemon zest.
Here's what it will look like when it's mixed:
Creamy, smooth, and off-white. And very runny.
Go get your spring form pan with the crust ready. Put the pan on a baking sheet. Pour your filling into the crust.
Stick it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 250 degrees and continue baking another 90 (90!!) minutes. After I reduced the heat, I set my timer for 75 minutes so I can check it before continuing on to the full 90 minutes. Just in case.
It ended up taking the full 90 minutes, and came out a gorgeous golden yellow color.
I followed the instructions that told me to loosen it from the edges of the pan with a knife. I let it cool on the counter, then covered it and put it in the fridge. Boy! Was that hard to do! I wanted to taste it!
----->>>> Fast forward to present time! The cheesecake's been in the fridge all day and all yesterday afternoon and evening. It's ready to be served!
For good measure, I took a moment to run the spatula around the edge of the pan before taking the side off.
It's perfect! And gorgeous! And wonderful! I'm giddy with excitement as I cut a piece of cheesecake.
(Note: use a warm knife to cut. Wet and wipe -- warm water and a clean paper towel -- between slices.)
Gilding the lily -- I drizzled homemade dark chocolate syrup on top of my slice. Yes, I have that recipe to share another time. :)
Go to the store and get the ingredients. You must make this cheesecake.
You'll be glad you did.
Really. It's not that hard. I can't believe it took me so long to try.
One more gratuitous picture...