Cheesecake might just hold a special spot in every girl’s heart. It’s the queen of all desserts: creamy, rich, and so amazingly delicious that surely none of those calories really count, right? Cheesecake was one of our favourite girl’s night traditions in Revelstoke. Zala’s Steak and Pizza House has amazing, home made, baked cheesecake every night, and you have to be careful before all the good flavours—such as apple & caramel, mint chocolate chip, or Turtle—are gone. Mixed with a martini or two, we’ve had some great times there.
Of equal if not higher stature is my mom’s baked cheesecake. Whenever we had a dinner party or potluck to go to, we brought the dessert. It’s just tradition! You just had to pay really close attention to when dessert came out, or else you might miss out on getting a slice. This recipe adapts itself to a few different varieties—including chocolate—which I’ve written about below.
Make sure you make this cheesecake only if you’ll have help eating it. Otherwise, don’t blame me if you scarf down the whole thing! It’s not particularly difficult to make, but requires a bit of patience and thought. Make the night before so it has time to cool and set, or early in the morning before it needs to be served. (And send me a piece while you’re at it?)
Beautiful Baked Cheesecake
Cooking time: 30 min prep, 60 minutes baking, 4+ hours cooling
- For the crust:
- 1 1/2 cup graham wafer crumbs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup cold butter
- (hint: omit the walnuts and cinnamon, add 1/4 cup sifted cocoa powder and 2 tbsp sugar for a chocolate crust)
- For the filling:
- 2 225g packages cream cheese (standard size blocks)
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 cups / 750 mL sour cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Put all of your crust ingredients into a food processor, and blend until fine and crumbly. Alternately, mix in by hand. It just takes longer! In Australia, graham wafer crumbs are not available in normal super markets (nor are the graham wafers). I used a 50/50 blend of digestive biscuits and arrowroot biscuits, which worked wonderfully. Any sort of plain, sweet, dry biscuit would also work.
Pat your crust mixture into a 10″ springform pan. Make sure it’s evenly spread out, and it should go up a little bit on the sides. You may not need to use all of the mixture, just use your judgment.
In a large bowl, soften your two blocks of cream cheese in a microwave until very malleable. By hand or with a mixer, blend in the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla slowly until completely blended with no lumps. If you don’t soften your cream cheese first, this will take a long time! Feel free to get creative and add some flavourings here—a few tablespoons of lemon juice, some cinnamon or nutmeg, or even some fruit. Pour this filling mixture onto the crust in the springform pan. You might not need all of the mixture here either; leave at least 1 cm between the top of the mixture and the top of the pan.
If you have leftover crust mixture and some leftover filling, use a smaller ovenproof dish and make a mini cheesecake. It’s much better to have some leftover ingredients than to overfill your springform pan—the cheesecake will puff as it bakes, so you don’t want it to overflow in the oven!
Put your springform pan on a tray with raised sides or on tinfoil (the butter in the crust will melt and get everywhere, otherwise). Bake at 375 F / 195 C for 60 minutes, until the top of the cheesecake is very golden. It will puff up a few centimeters; this is normal. Pull it out of the oven very, very carefully, and leave it somewhere to cool undisturbed for several hours. The cake should cool the whole way through before being served, as it needs to set.
To serve your cheesecake, whip up a lovely fruit sauce to cut the creamy sweetness. Raspberry, strawberry, peach, blueberry, whatever you like! I used raspberries, triple sec, and a bit of sugar for this sauce.