I always found cheesecake intimidating. The springform, the water bath. But intimidating makes a good project, and opens the door to simplicity.
So like I always do, I researched the recipes. I came away with a dozen and Venn Diagram’d that shit to find the commonalities. Excised the unnecessary. Worked it over, tried it out, simplified everywhere I could.
I like using ghee since you don’t have to melt it. I like using turbinado because of the grain size. And I like dahi because it helps the cream cheese get workable but doesn’t change the flavor, not too sweet, not too sour. If you don’t have those, use butter, regular sugar, and sour cream. Whatever, it’s fine.
I’ve made this so many times I can make it in my sleep. And I worked it and worked it until it was perfect every single time. Just like Cones of Dunshire is about the cones, cheesecake – as it turns out – is about the steam. A waterbath is relevant only in the sense that it provides steam.
This recipe is simple, and the technique is too. The crust has 3 ingredients, and some optional spices. It’s got 5 ingredients in the filling. Try it out a few times, you’ll see how simple it is. it’s just easy and absolutely delicious. Slather the finished product with whatever you want, or nothing.
It’ll melt in your mouth, vanish on your tongue like air, and melt on the counter if you leave it out too long. Enjoy.
But don’t enjoy too much, it’s 400 calories a slice.
World’s Easiest (and Best) Cheesecake
- 1 thick plastic bag to crush the graham crackers in
- 1 Rolling Pin to crush the graham crackers
- 1 7.5" springform pan to bake the crust & cheesecake
- 1 ramekin for crust ingredients
- 1 strong fork to mix the crust ingredients
- 1 small mixing bowl to mix the crust
- 1 potato masher to flatten the crust into the shell
- 1 large mixing bowl to mix the filling in
- 1 whisk to mix the filling
- 1 rubber / silicone spatula to scrape the filling bowl
- 1 large cake pan to hold the water for steaming
- 1 paring or butter knife to release the crust from the pan
- 4 tbsp ghee or melted unsalted butter
- 1 package graham crackers
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/8th tsp clove or to cooks' preference
- 1/8th tsp allspice or to cooks' preference
- 1/8th tsp nutmeg or to cooks' preference
- 2 8 oz packages cream cheese
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp dahi Dahi is unsweetened Indian yogurt. Alternatively you can use another type of yogurt, sour cream, or some other thicker dairy product. This ingredient simply thins the cream cheese to make it more workable. Use more for a softer, creamier cheesecake.
- 2/3 cup turbinado sugar Or brown sugar, or white sugar. You can use honey if you want but I don't recommend it.
Note that turbinado is better than alternatives because it has a larger grain size. This means that it "melts" during baking, while leaving small voids in the structure of the filling. These voids from the melted turbinado grains help the filling to be extremely soft, melt-in-your-mouth fluffy, despite none of the ingredients "rising".
- 2 large eggs Beating / whipping the filling after eggs are added will make it firmer.
- 4-8 oz Any kind of jam, jelly, preserve, spread, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce. Whatever sounds good. I prefer blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, or blackberry.
Prep the ingredients
- At least 2 hours before cooking, place the eggs, ghee, and cream cheese on the counter so that all the ingredients can reach room temperature. Best results are when these ingredients are completely room temp, which usually takes 4-8 hours. For best results, place these out in the morning and cook the cheesecake in the evening.
Crush the graham crackers
- Place graham crackers in the plastic bag.
- Crush the graham crackers with the rolling pin. Don't use a blender, which will turn the graham crackers into dust. You want small fragments, not dust.
- Place graham crackers in the mixing bowl.
Mix the crust wet ingredients
- Add ghee, honey, and spices to the ramekin.
- Stir the ramekin until the honey and spices are incorporated into the ghee.
Form the crust
- Pour the ghee-honey-spice mixture into the crumbled graham crackers.
- Mix the graham cracker mixture with the fork.
- When the ghee mixture is fully absorbed by the crumbled graham cracker, transfer 2/3 of the mix to the springform pan.
- Use the potato masher to tamp down the crust mixture.
- Use the fork to scoop portions of the graham cracker mixture evenly around the edge of the springform pan.
- Use your fingers to press the mixture up the walls of the pan evenly around the sides.
- Use the masher to tamp down any remaining crumbs and around the edges.
Bake the crust
- When the oven has fully preheated to 325, bake the crust for 8 minutes.
- After the crust has baked, remove it from the oven. Set aside for now.
Steam the oven
- Fill the cake pan 2/3 with water.
- Place the cake pan in the bottom rack of the oven.
- Let the oven sit at 325 for at least 30 mins with the water pan in it.
- DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN! Leave it alone. Keep it filled with steam.
Prepare the filling
- Add the room-temp cream cheese to the large mixing bowl.
- Whisk the cream cheese to break it up from the blocks.
- Add the dahi, yogurt, or sour cream.
- Whisk the dahi (yogurt, or sour cream) into the cream cheese.
- Add the vanilla.
- Now that you have the cream cheese, dahi, and vanilla, whip the mixture until it gets glossy and there's no lumps.
- Add the turbinado sugar. Whisk the sugar into the cream cheese mixture.
- Add the eggs into the mixture and whisk it until fully incorporated. If you want a firmer cheesecake, beat the mixture at this point until it starts to firm up.
- Wait for the oven to finish the steaming process. DO NOT open the oven yet.
- Only add the filling to the crust AFTER the oven is steamed, and you're ready to put the cheesecake into the oven.
Bake the cheesecake
- Quickly place the cheesecake on the middle rack ABOVE (not in) the water pan.
- Bake the cheesecake for 35 minutes at 325.
- After 35 minutes, turn off the oven but DO NOT OPEN IT.
- Let the cheesecake sit in the turn-off-oven for another 35 minutes.
- 70 minutes after first putting the cheesecake in the oven (35 minutes on, 35 minutes off), take the cheesecake out and run a knife around the edge. Be sure to shut the oven door again so that it stays warm & steamy.
- Place the cheesecake back in the oven for another 1.5 hours while the oven continues to cool down.
Chill the cheesecake
- Chill the cheesecake in the fridge overnight.
- I use a "Christmas cookie tub" so that the moisture extractor in the fridge doesn't dry out the cheesecake.
- Place a paper towel over the spring form pan, but not touching the cheesecake, to absorb condensation as it cools. The lid of the cookie tub holds the paper towel off the top of the cheesecake while it cools.
- After at least 4 hours in the fridge, but preferably 8, remove the cheesecake.
Slice the cheesecake
- Once the cheesecake is completely cooled and firm, remove the springform pan.
- Use a large knife to cut the cheesecake into 8 or 16 slices.
Top the cheesecake
- After slicing, add the topping of your choice.