You guys, berries.
I made this cheesecake for the berries.
I go a little fruit crazy this time of year, at the first sign of berries popping up in the market. I buy a pint of strawberries, or two, and then the grocery store starts doing 2 for $5 raspberries, and suddenly my refrigerator is 74% berries.
And the thing about berries is, you have to eat them fast. Like three-days-max fast, even if you’re slightly maniacal like I am and transfer your berries into paper-towel-lined containers the minute you get home from the store so that they can all lay nicely in a single layer.
If you were sensible, you might eat some berries – in yogurt, for a snack – and then easily freeze* the remainder for smoothies to have when it’s unbearably hot and humid in a few weeks. But maybe you’re like me and decide to make cheesecake as another vehicle for berries because fresh berries and cheesecake? BFFs for life.
There are people out there who like their cheesecake
trashy fancy. Mango cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake, s’more cheesecake – it’s endless really. But I honestly feel like nothing beats a classic cheesecake.
And guess what? It’s super easy to make. On a recent trip home, my sister Jean and I made one together because she’s kind of a cheesecake master. And the process of putting it together is really simple; the only trick is knowing when it’s done.
Jean’s pro tip is to give the cheesecake pan a shake before you take it out of the oven. If the outside is set and the inside of the cheesecake is just slightly jiggly, that’s when you want to take out. It’s a little tricky knowing when, but if you get it right, you’ll get a perfectly done cheesecake that won’t crack on top as it cools. She didn’t call it The Cheesecake Shake, but she should have. And so should you.
But beyond that, there’s not much more to it. Plus, I’m pretty sure cheesecake is the dessert of summer – rich, but cold, and paired with fresh berries (or ohmygosh peaches), I kind of can see myself making this on a weekly basis and having the opposite of a swimsuit body by August. Please come and help me eat this.
*When I freeze berries, I always line the baking sheet with wax paper for easy removal and can only suggest you do the same! I’m not sure why this how-to link didn’t include that tip!
1 3/4 cups fine graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla*
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk**
Optional: fresh fruit like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches
9-inch springform pan
*Real vanilla extract is life-changing here.
**I suggest whole milk; you'll get a richer taste the "fatter" your milk.
Preheat oven to 350*.
Combine crust ingredients. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with your fingers, flattening it as much as possible. A bit of the mixture might creep up the sides, and that's okay.
Combine cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour, and vanilla with a mixer until just combined. Add eggs and yolk and mix on low until just combined. You don't want to overmix here! Stir in the milk. Pour filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.
Place springform pan on a baking sheet, and place them together in the preheated oven. Set timer for 30 minutes and start checking for doneness using The Cheesecake Shake (in post above) every few minutes after that. Remeber, you want the edges to be set but the inside to be nearly set - still a bit jiggly. It will probably take 35-40 minutes, but start checking at 30.
Remove springform pan from oven. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Then, loosen the edges of the cheesecake with a knife and remove the sides of the springform pan. Allow to continue to cool this way (on the wire rack) until completely cool, about 2 hours.
Cover with plastic wrap: I lay plastic wrap directly on the cheesecake to cover it AND over the top of the pan to prevent any refrigerator smells from seeping in. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but ideally the better part of the day. I have made this the night before serving, and that works great too.
Serve with fresh fruit if desired.