Classic Cheesecake

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr (plus 4 hr chilling)
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
The Ancient Greeks made the earliest known cheesecakes. During the first Olympics, athletes ate a version made with flour, honey and cheese for energy. Modern cheesecake, made with cream cheese, appeared much later, showing up in New York City in the early 1900s.


For the Crust:

For the Filling:


  1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Toss the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar in a medium bowl until well combined. Firmly press into the bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 9-inch round springform pan. Bake until firm and a few shades darker, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚ F.
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling: Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and slightly fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the heavy cream until combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Pour the filling into the cooled crust.
  3. Bake until the cheesecake is set around the edges but the center still jiggles slightly, 1 hour to 1 hour 25 minutes. Turn off the oven. Keep the cheesecake in the oven with the door ajar slightly, 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cheesecake cool completely, then refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove the springform ring, then slice the cheesecake. 

Cherry-Vanilla Sauce:

  1. Drain two 14.5-ounce cans tart cherries, reserving 1/3 cup liquid. Combine the drained cherries, 1 cup bottled tart cherry juice, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/2 vanilla bean (add the pod and the seeds) and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Simmer until syrupy, 20 minutes. Whisk 2 tablespoons cornstarch into the reserved cherry liquid, then pour into the saucepan. While stirring, bring to a boil and cook 1 more minute. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon almond extract; let cool. Discard the vanilla bean. Refrigerate until chilled.

Malted Ganache Sauce:

  1. Heat 2/3 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup malt powder in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking, until the powder is dissolved and the mixture is steaming. Pour over 6 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate in a bowl; let stand 3 to 5 minutes. Stir until smooth, then let stand until thickened, 20 to 40 minutes. Pour over the cheesecake and spread with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with chopped malt balls. Let set about 20 minutes.

Tropical Fruit Sauce:

  1. Slice a 2-inch piece of ginger into thin rounds. Combine the ginger with 1/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then remove the ginger and stir in 1/2 teaspoon lime zest. Toss the ginger-lime syrup with 3/4 cup chopped pineapple, 2 chopped kiwis and 1/2 chopped mango.

Cook’s Note

Start with room-temperature eggs and cream cheese. If the ingredients are too cold, the filling can turn out lumpy. To make sure the crust stays intact, firmly pack the crumb mixture into the pan with lightly oiled hands, or press it with the bottom of a measuring cup. To avoid cracking, let the cheesecake cool gently and gradually. Open the oven door slightly and leave the cake inside for at least 20 minutes after baking. Dip your knife in hot water and dry it off with a towel between each slice to get clean cuts.