#BakeTogether Brunch Cakes Desserts Make ahead

#Baketogether Cheesecake

I’ve been dreaming (and talking) about this #baketogether subject for months and I am so happy it’s finally February and I can post Cheesecake ~Your Way.

I’m expecting big twists from everyone for this month’s recipe. Hey, no pressure but .. I know cheesecake devotees are a loyal, opinionated and vocal group and the mere mention of cheesecake will immediately elicit as many opinions as there are voices. You know who you are. Some like their cheesecake filling dense, sweet and rich; some like it fluffy, tangy and light and still others prefer an Italian –style ricotta filling and that doesn’t begin to cover the zillions of different filling flavors, shapes, crusts, sizes, toppings and combinations there are to choose from. The beauty of my version of the classic is it’s chameleon-like personality – one recipe can take on the attributes of everyone’s personal favorites making it, perhaps, the perfect #baketogether recipe.

Let’s start with a quick rundown about this recipe:

This cheesecake consists of two, simple to prepare elements – crust and filling – making it a perfect recipe for all skill levels including newbie bakers.
⁃    The crumb crust can be made from any type of crisp cookie. Grahams, gingersnap and chocolate cookies are the norm but most markets and gourmet shops offer a wide variety so feel free to experiment. You’ll need a 9-inch springform pan. If you k=don’t have one, well, I think you should. The only skill needed  here is to press the crumbs into the pan with just your fingers, plastic wrap and a flat-bottomed mug or measuring cup.

⁃    The filling is just as easy but there are a few tricks to making a luscious filling that bakes without cracking. First off, for a smooth filling, be sure to start with fresh (not old and expired), softened cream cheese and beat it, scraping down the sides and beater frequently, until no lumps remain. Once you start adding other ingredients, it is difficult to get rid of those pesky lumps without overworking your filling which can cause it to over puff and crack during baking and cooling (not good). Also, be sure to follow the doneness test and remove the cake when it wiggles like jello when nudged, the edges are puffed and the center still looks wet. The cake will continue to cook as it cools.

⁃    For BIG vanilla flavor, I use vanilla beans to flavor the filling. If you don’t want to fuss with scraping the seeds from the bean but you still want those pretty little seeds, you can use vanilla bean paste.Or, of course, you can just use pure vanilla extract.

OK..  how about a few suggestions for making this recipe your own:
⁃    Change the shape: Make it bigger or smaller. Make it a tart  (I think I will) or Bars or Minis or how about a V-Day cheesecake for two.
⁃    Change the filling: Swap out the sour cream and add just about the same amount of of the ingredients like dulce de leche, pumpkin, peanut butter, ricotta, fruit puree or chocolate
⁃    Add more flavors: Match citrus; espresso powder; booze; ground spices with your filling to take it to the next level
⁃    Add a topping: This can add complexity to the cake as well as some high-wattage star power to the cake’s presentation. Anything from caramel /chocolate sauce to sweetened crème fraiche or fresh fruit to a bruleed sugar crust. Remember, this is the icing on your cake.

Here at #baketogether, we love all shapes and flavors equally so put on your thinking caps and start planing Cheesecake ~Your Way right now. If you need further guidance or inspiration, give me a holler or check out the options for a similar cheesecake I did for Fine Cooking a few years back.

xx A

A few #Baketogether reminders:

  • Use this recipe as your starting point and twist and turn it anyway you’d like.
  • In your post, link back to my original recipe & invite your readers to join our #baketogether – the more the merrier!
  • Post your version & pix on your blog, Twitter & Instagram and FB pages by Feb 29 (or there abouts)  so we can all see your version.
  • Tweet & post  Loud & Proud and we will all join in to share your wonderfulness with our readers, friends and followers.
  • Leave me a comment so I know you’ve posted & don’t forget to use the linky thingy to add your post (below) for the round up.
  • If you don’t have a blog, you can still join in the fun. Email me a pic & your switch-ins and I’ll add ’em to the post.


A couple of pix to help:

Line the bottom of the springform pan and clasp the outer ring onto the bottom, leaving the excess foil on the outside. This will come in handy for moving the cheesecake from the pan to a serving plate.


Cover the crumbs with plastic wrap and use your finger to press the crumbs to the sides of the pan. The plastic keeps the crumbs in the pan and off your fingers.

Use a flat bottomed measuring cup to press the crumbs onto the bottom and edges of the pan — still using the plastic:

And cheesecake on a serving plate:



Classic Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
Makes 12 to 14 servings.

For the crust:
•    2 cups (9 ounces) finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
•    3 tablespoons granulated sugar
•    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•    6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
▪    3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
▪    2 tablespoons all purpose flour
▪    Good pinch of  table salt
▪    1 1/3 cups (9 3/8 ounces) granulated sugar
▪    3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
▪    Seeds scraped from 3  large vanilla beans or 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or paste
▪    4 large eggs, at room temperature

To make the crust:
1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a piece of aluminum foil and clasp the outer ring over the foil so the edges hang outside the ring. In a medium bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon until well blended. Drizzle with the melted butter and mix until well blended.

2. Dump the crumbs into the springform pan and cover with large piece of plastic wrap. Place your hands on the plastic wrap and press the crumbs about 2 1/2 inches up the sides of the pan.(The plastic wrap will keep the crumbs from sticking to your hands.) With the plastic wrap still in place, redistribute the remaining crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan and firmly press down to make a compact layer. I like to use a metal measuring cup with straight sides and a flat bottom for this task.. Bake until the crumbs are fragrant, about 12 minutes and set on a rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

To make the filling:
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, flour and salt until very smooth and no lumps remain. It’s very important for the cream cheese to be lump free at this point so stop and scrape the beater and sides of the bowl frequently. Add the sugar, sour cream and vanilla seeds or extract and beat until well blended and smooth, stopping to scrape beater and bowl several times. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just blended, stopping to scrape beater and bowl before each addition. (Don’t over beat the filling once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much.) Tap the bowl several times on the counter to release some of the air bubbles. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Using the tip of a small knife or a toothpick, pop any air bubbles on the surface.

2. Bake at 300°F until the center jiggles like jello when nudged, 63 to 68 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight or up to 3 days. The cake can also be frozen up to 1 month.

To serve:
Have a flat serving plate ready and close by. Unclasp the pan’s ring, remove it, and using the excess foil, gently nudge and lift the cake to be sure it’s released. Using the foil, carefully lift the cheesecake and slide it onto the serving plate and center it.. Tear off one side of the foil close to the cheese cake. On the opposite side of the cake, gently pull the remaining foil  out from the cheesecake. (If you are topping the cake with something yummy, do so now.) Run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.

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  • Dana B
    February 1, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    yum!! this is going to be fun! All sorts of variations popped in my head the moment I started reading your post 🙂

    • Abby Dodge
      February 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      Delighted that the recipe has sparked your imagination!

  • Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything}
    February 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    my favorite dessert is chocolate cheesecake. Love this challenge. it’s gonna be so much fun!

    • Abby Dodge
      February 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Yum.. I’m crazy about chocolate cheesecake.. can’t wait to check out your twists.

  • Deepti Bhogle
    February 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    I am so making this one..since I moved from NY to San Diego, I miss my favorite version of the cheesecake..and I am going to recreate it! Thanks Abby for choosing it!

    • Abby Dodge
      February 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Glad you approve! Looking forward to seeing your version of this c’cake

  • White Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake with Salted Caramel and Chocolate Glaze — Recipe - Creative Culinary - A Denver, Colorado Food Blog - Sharing food through recipes and photography.
    February 6, 2012 at 8:01 am

    […] it turns out; this was also Abby Dodge’s subject for February’s #baketogether challenge. Each month Abby gives us inspiration and a […]

  • Renee - Kudos Kitchen
    February 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Believe it or not, I’m not a huge cheesecake fan. However, it’s my husbands favorite dessert. I’ll be anxious to tailor this recipe to meet some of his favorite flavors! Gee, I wonder how beer flavored cheesecake would be? Just kidding…I think 😉

    • Abby Dodge
      February 6, 2012 at 6:05 pm

      Now THAT would be interesting! I’m not feeding a crowd anytime soon so I’m going to make a nutella cheesecake tart or maybe minis with a choco cookie crust and will post before V-Day. #waistline

    • Barbara | Creative Culinary
      February 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm

      You know…there is nothing wrong with a savory cheesecake Renee. I think it sounds great actually.

      • abby dodge
        February 8, 2012 at 3:42 pm

        I agree with Barb! Savory cheesecakes are delish.. consider salmon & dill or a basil/parm version a la pesto and use a nut/bread crumb crust. Oh and don’t forget that you can cut this recipe in half or even more if you like. It makes a great tart, too

  • Grand Marnier Chocolate Chip Cheesecake ~ #BakeTogether | FoodBabbles
    February 7, 2012 at 8:04 am

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  • Kristina~Former Chef
    February 7, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Thanks for the fun round-up. I really like your tip about pressing the crust in with plastic wrap and a flat bottomed cup.

    • Abby Dodge
      February 7, 2012 at 9:19 am

      thanks. The plastic wrap keeps the crumbs in the pan and not on your fingers – sounds like an M & M slogan, doesn’t it?

  • Lisa @ Dust with Flour
    February 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    I have never before in my life made a cheesecake. It’s about time. Thank you for organizing us once again! Now to put on my thinking/baking cap.

    • abby dodge
      February 8, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Looking forward to seeing what your very creative mind comes up with!

  • Hanaa
    February 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Oh boy, this is soooo tempting. Have been wanting to make a Dulce de Leche-flavored cheesecake since forever but haven’t done it yet.

    Also wanted to congratulate you. I got an email from Cookstr today and your Raspberry White Choc Tart was featured in there 🙂

  • Laura @MotherWouldKnow
    February 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Just realized that I made quiche this morning (for dinner) and cheesecake tartlets for my #baketogether this afternoon. I know the cheesecakes will need to cool, and will last in the fridge for a couple of days, but my own absent-mindedness still makes me laugh. Must have had dairy-on-the-brain.

    • Abby Dodge
      February 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      All Dairy All The Time! Sounds good to me. But, yes.. cheesecake is a wonderful “make ahead”.

      • Laura @MotherWouldKnow
        February 11, 2012 at 11:51 am

        OMG, they are so good. I’m hoping to keep 2 intact until Valentine’s Day, but that may be unrealistic unless I hide them.

  • Karen Harris
    February 10, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I had so much fun with this #Baketogether. My friends and family thank you too!

    • Abby Dodge
      February 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      I’m so happy you enjoyed this month’s #baketogether ! I’m really enjoying seeing all the variations.

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    February 11, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Just posted my recipe for Lemon Saffron Cheesecake with Pistachio,Wholemeal cardamom crust!

  • han_dan
    February 12, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for this! I found you through tastespotting.com and attempted my first ever cheesecake yesterday. Its been a big hit so now I’m toying with your recipe for an amaretto strawberry cheesecake. Thus far:

    Crust–I drizzled some honey onto the butter before melting and threw in a dash of ground cloves and ground nutmeg with the graham crackers.

    Filling-I’ll be substituting the vanilla with amaretto and then adding in 1/4-3/4 cup of strawberry jam (I bought it on a whim, discovered I don’t like jam, and hope it will suffice here instead). Clearly still in process…

    • Abby Dodge
      February 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Awesome.. so glad you found me and #baketogether. I’m thrilled that your are experimenting! The crust options sounds very flavorful as does the filling. You might consider substituting the jam for the sour cream (because it would act as a liquid type of ingredient) as well as dropping the sugar amount down just a bit to compensate for the jam’s sweetness. Keep me posted!

  • han_dan
    February 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Okay, to finish:

    Filling–1/2 cup ish of strawberry jam, 5 teaspoons of amaretto (I have a serious sweet tooth). I took some of the extra jam and drizzled it on the top before I tossed it in the oven.

    • Abby Dodge
      February 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Oh My goodness.. sounds wonderful.. Can’t wait to hear how it tastes.

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    February 13, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Here is my completed post for #baketogether Cheesecake ~ Your way

    I decided upon “Malted Milk Ball Cheesecake” 🙂


  • Michelle Jaffee
    February 18, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    This is my entry for #baketogether: Lemon Luvahs Cheesecake
    This was so much fun. Thanks, Abby!

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    February 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Oopsie! My first link was incorrect… I uploaded it again. O_o

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  • Jody Hulber
    February 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I almost needed “leap day” to get my cheesecake in, but here it is: Raspberry Lemon Meringue Cheesecake. Loved seeing everyone’s cheesecake, can’t wait ’till March! Thanks Abby… soooo much fun! Just in time for the Academy Awards tonight… Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up (I’m uploading from FB, hope this works):

  • Lisa | Dust with Flour
    February 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    And one more addition to our cheesecake party, a savory version with goat cheese and gremolata.

  • Georgie
    February 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I had so much fun making my cheesecake. I ran into a few issues trying to create a no bake but in the end with your help Abby, I made this great Pear & Ginger Infused cheesecake. I love the #baktogether community – I’m becoming a better baker and taking more chances. http://wp.me/psB27-U3

  • Deeba Rajpal (@vindee)
    March 12, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Gorgeous lot Abby! I’m running late in 2012. Hope I can catch the March baketogether!