Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce
There’s little else in life that’s better than a well done cheesecake (well, perhaps a good fresh berry tart). Light and creamy, sweet but with a distinct tang, all on top of a crumbly graham cracker crust, perhaps with a side of fresh berries or topped with sauce. I have eaten my fair share of cheesecake, everything from the sub-par grocery store’s bakery for a quick fix to specialty cakes for the holidays with pumpkin and chocolate to mini-cheese-cupcakes when I’m too lazy to worry about a water bath. I even tried to hunt down the best cheesecake in New York, but even the “best” of these all shared one major flaw: a dense filling.
There is nothing more distressing than creamy cheesecake stuck to the roof of your mouth or cemented onto your fork. It is nothing short of a tragedy when this happens, and it so often does; a filling rich and perfectly balanced in flavor yet weighed down and overshadowed by its thick texture. Never fear though, this recipe covers all the bases of a good cheesecake, embodying each of the characteristics necessary for a dreamy cheesecake-eating experience. Once this cheesecake is ready to be eaten, close your eyes and you’re floating in a tangy cloud of delicious cheesecake heaven.
Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce, adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
For the crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
For the raspberry sauce:
6 ounce fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
To make the crust:
1. Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and up the sides about a quarter inch. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.
3. Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350° F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the filling
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
To make the cheesecake:
1. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
2. Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is creamy and soft, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
3. Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.
4. Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
5. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and crack the oven door about an inch, this gentle cooling will prevent cracking, allow the cheesecake to sit in the cooling oven for an hour.
6. After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
7. When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better. Serves 12 to 16.
8. To make the raspberry sauce, combine raspberries, sugar, and water in a small sauce pan and reduce over medium heat. Amounts of sugar and water will depend on how sweet you want the sauce or how sweet the raspberries already are and how thick you want the sauce to be, respectively.
My cheesecake had a hard time browning and after about an hour and forty-five minutes in the oven, I gave up on it doing so for fear of it burning. I had a minor meltdown when I saw that some water had leaked into the pan but the crust was still crispy and only a bit soggy on the edges. Nevertheless, be very careful wrapping the pan in aluminum foil, the extra care will ensure a dry crust and a stress-free baking experience. I used equal parts sour cream and heavy whipping cream (1/2 cup) and may have forgotten to bring the cream cheese to room temperature, but everything worked out in the end.
The best way to serve the cheesecake is to cut it using a large thin knife that has been run under hot water and patted dry. Repeat this after every slice and you will get even and clean slices of cheesecake. The cheese cake will last up to a week in covered in the refrigerator or three months in the freezer and defrosted in the refrigerator over night.