I like the idea of cheesecake. Sweet, creamy, indulgent. Then I order it and it’s dense, thick and coats the inside of my mouth in a way that is very unpleasant to me. I pay $6 for the slice and I’m done by the third or fourth bite. A few years ago, I found the solution in Giada de Laurentiis’ cheesecake recipe. Mascarpone cheese and a little lemon lightened the flavor and texture and I was in heaven. That is, until the local grocery stores stopped carrying mascarpone cheese. And thus, this recipe was born. It’s light and fluffy but still rich and decadent. And, it is oh so forgiving. If you’re afraid of ruining a cheesecake by over baking, this is the recipe for you! I over baked my sample so badly it was cracked all the way across and almost all the way to the bottom of the filling. After cooling and refrigerating, it was just as soft, moist and delicious as ever. And, whatever you top it with will cover up any cracks you might have anyway.
Start by crushing up some graham crackers (or take some help from the store and just by the box of crumbs). Stir in some sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a springform pan. I press my crumbs slightly up the sides, but that is completely my preference. I also use a glass to pack the crust in tight. Then bake until crust is set and lightly brown.
Mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and mix until smooth. Make sure you scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl and mix it in.
If you haven’t already, be sure to wrap the outside of your springform pan with several layers of aluminum foil. This will keep water from seeping into your springform pan while the cheesecake bakes. Pour your cheese mixture over the pre-baked and cooled crust. Place pan into a roasting pan half-full of hot water and bake until almost set. Cake should jiggle just a bit when you shake the pan. Remove and cool for an hour before refrigerating.
Once the cake is chilled, top with fresh raspberries and brush with melted jelly – just to make it look pretty.
1 2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
6 Tablespoons melted butter
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sour cream (room temperature)
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs (room temperature)
1 ½ cups fresh raspberries
2 Tablespoons raspberry or blackberry jelly, seedless
For the crust:
Preheat oven to 350*
Tightly wrap the outside of a 9-inch diameter springform pan with 2-3 layers of aluminum foil. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter and stir until all crumbs are moist. Press into the bottom and about 1/4-1/2” up the sides of springform pan. Use the bottom of a glass to lightly pack the crust into shape. Bake crust until set and lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
Remove crust from oven and lower oven temperature to 325* Place a large roasting pan ½ full of water into the oven.
For the filling:
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sour cream until well combined. Add sugar and beat until smooth, scraping sides occasionally. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended and scraping down sides after each addition.
Pour the cheese mixture over the prepared crust. Carefully place springform pan into the hot roasting pan and water. Bake until the center of the cheesecake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken. Start checking at 1 hour (cake may take up to 1 ½ hours).
Remove from oven and cool on counter for 1 hour. Refrigerate until cold (at least 2 hours).
Arrange raspberries in concentric circles on top of cold cheesecake. Microwave jam for 30 seconds, or until melted. Use a pastry brush to carefully brush raspberries with melted jam.
Store in refrigerator and serve cold.