This classic cheesecake recipe is sure to be the perfect fix for when that rich and creamy craving hits, or the ideal dessert for your special event.
It is said, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Well, that may be true but women LOVE cheesecake. There isn’t a single girl I’ve ever met that wouldn’t rather spend an evening alone with a pan of cheesecake rather than sharing my company. Well, maybe that says something more about myself than the cheesecake. We may never know.
However, this cheesecake recipe won over at least one woman. Given to me by my friend Shelli, it is the recipe I prepared for the picnic on the river the day I proposed to my wife. Six years later, I am not sure if she loves me or cheesecake more, but the cheesecake's gone and she is still stuck with me.
This classic cheesecake recipe has a rich and creamy filling resting on a graham cracker crust. The easiest way to prepare this recipe is using a springform pan and a stand mixer (affiliate links), however, in my more thrifty days I have successfully prepared this recipe mixing by hand and using a pie tin.
How to Make Cheesecake
Any great cheesecake is comprised of two key components - the rich and creamy filling, and the graham cracker crust. Let's take a look at how to perfect each one.
How to Make a Graham Cracker Crust
The graham cracker crust is made with a mixture of sugar and butter. The easiest and cleanest way to crumble the graham crackers is by crushing them in the packages they are stored in within the box. From here, they can be combined with sugar in a food processor (affiliate link). A food processor gives you the best crumb, but if you don’t have one you can crush them manually instead.
I don't recommend mixing the butter in the food processor, as it tends to over-process the graham cracker. Instead, just pour the graham/sugar mixture into a bowl and use a fork to work in the butter. At this point, the crust can be formed and baked. Work on the filling as it bakes and cools.
How to Make Cheesecake Filling
This classic cheesecake filling consists of cream cheese, eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and heavy cream. It is important that you warm your cream cheese to prevent lumps when all the ingredients are incorporated together.
I find the easiest way to do this is to let the cream cheese packages sit in hot water for about 10 minutes, however, you can use your microwave instead if you wish (take them out of the packages first). The cheesecake filling is poured into the graham cracker crust and baked at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
When is a cheesecake done?
It is important not to overbake your cheesecake or it will crack. A cheesecake is done when the filling reaches 150 degrees and is still slightly wobbly. The cheesecake will continue to firm up as it cools.
Cheesecake Water Bath
Confession. I have never used a water bath when making a cheesecake, but I know some people SWEAR by them, so I want to quickly explain the process so you have the option to utilize it if desired.
Basically, the water bath keeps the cheesecake moist, bakes it more evenly, and helps prevent cracking. To create the bath, wrap the bottom of your springform pan in multiple layers of foil, to prevent water from seeping in. Alternatively, or in addition, you can use an oven bag for greater protection.
Once your cheesecake has been protected from encroaching water, place the springform pan inside a larger baking dish, such as a lasagna pan, and add an inch or so of water, until it reaches 1-2 inches below the top of the cheesecake. At this point, you are ready to bake!
How to Customize This Cheesecake Recipe
A classic cheesecake is certainly great to enjoy, but there is no reason you can't jazz it up and put your own twist on this recipe. The filling can be doctored with vanilla, fresh fruit, chocolate chips, or even Andes Mints. These all can be mixed in, or just placed on top. I don't ever play with the crust, but the lady who gave me this recipe occasionally adds ¼ cup of pecans.
Alternatively, if you want a completely different idea, try my Banana Pudding Cheesecake recipe as well!
Classic Cheesecake Recipe
Graham Cracker Crust
- 18 graham crackers (two packages from a 15 ounce box)
- 1 ½ sticks butter (melted)
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 4, 8 ounce packages cream cheese
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ cup heavy cream
Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Break up the 2 packages of graham crackers in the bag and then place them in the food processor to grind them further and add the sugar to incorporate.
- Pour graham mixture into a bowl and use a fork to mix in the butter. (Pouring the butter into the food processor tends to over-process the crust)
- Using an 8″ or 9″ springform pan, flip it upsidedown so the lip side is facing down. (This will allow the cheesecake to slide off easiest.) Fill the bottom with a layer of crumbs and press evenly throughout with the back of your hand.
- Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool on the stovetop while making the filling.
- While the crust is baking, take the 4 packages of cream cheese and place in a bowl. Fill the bowl with hot tap water and let stand for 10 minutes. (This will ensure a smooth filling with no lumps and easy incorporation of the other ingredients.)
- Cut each package open and squeeze the cream cheese into the bowl of your stand mixer and add 1 ¼ cups of sugar. Mix until smooth.
- Add two eggs, one at a time and let incorporate, then add the cornstarch. Place mixer on the lowest setting and slowly add the heavy whipping cream.
- Pour the mixture over each of the crusts and bake for 1 hour.
- The cheesecake will still be wobbly when done baking and have an internal temperature of at least 150. To prevent cracking, don’t over bake.
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