Every cook and baker probably has an item or two that seems a bit insurmountable—to the point we simply avoid trying to make it. I know many of us conquered beef bourguignon during the revival of all-things-Julia Childs a few years ago, proving that sometimes it just takes a good recipe and knowledge that it is, in fact, doable.
The Ultimate Intimidation
While I’m more baker than cook, cheesecake has always been one of those things that scared me. Cookies? No problem—can make them all day. Cakes? Easy enough, even when one sticks a little to the crevices of a bundt pan (nothing a drizzle of icing won’t fix). But cheesecake? It took me years to even buy a Springform pan!
Then, one day, I had a craving. Now, I’m a New York cheesecake kind of girl, raised on the dense creaminess of New York style as opposed to those soft, mushy things some people call cheesecake (no offense—to each his own). When I’m in NY, it’s my coffeehouse or dessert choice. When I’m home in the Midwest, I go without.
That craving, however, wouldn’t go away. So I started experimenting. My first try was a disaster. I’d done everything right except—and this is a big except—secure the sides of my Springform pan. Because I’d poured the batter into the pan after everything was prepared, including the water bath, I didn’t notice my error until the fateful moment when I lifted it to put the cooled cheesecake in the refrigerator. And molten cheesecake spilled all down my front.
OK, one-minute-rule confession here: I scraped enough up to taste it when it cooled. It was delicious, giving me the heart to try it again.
This time I used a regular pie plate, not trusting myself with the Springform just yet. I’m sure I’ll go back to it at some point, but the memory is too fresh. I used a simple graham cracker crust, and have given myself permission to use store bought crust whenever I need a shortcut to satisfy this craving.
Give It Your Own Spin
I put the recipe together, using bits and pieces of inspiration but experimenting with a few substitutes (like more cream than sour cream) at the same time. Best part of the story? Once I got my recipe right, I made it for a crowd. Days later I was still getting comments on social media saying, “Best cheesecake we ever had,” and “Can I get your cheesecake recipe?”
Why yes, yes you can. Here it is.