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Sarah Kieffer's Picture Perfect Cheesecake

yield: 1 9-inch cheesecake
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Special Equipment

  • a 9-inch springform pan
  • aluminum foil

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 2 cups (7 ounces) speculoos cookie crumbs (pulsed in a food processor)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake

  • 32 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

Instructions

For the Crust

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325 (F).
  • Whisk 2 cups speculoos cookie crumbs and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Add 5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter and mix with a spatula until evenly incorporated. Press the mixture onto the bottom a 9-inch springform pan and bake 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. After the pan has cooled, wrap just the sides of the pan in two layers of aluminum foil, with the shiny side facing out.

For the Cheesecake

  • Once the crust has completely cooled, make the cheesecake filling. Position a rack in the center of the oven (and, if using the method described in the baker's notes, a second rack in the lower-third of the oven directly underneath the center rack) and preheat to 325 (F).
  • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat 32 ounces cream cheese on medium until light, fluffy, and completely smooth, about 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl repeatedly, making sure that by the end every tiny speck of cream cheese is silky smooth. Add 1 cup granulated sugar and beat on medium until completely incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 cups sour cream, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and beat on medium for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons melted and cooled unsalted butter and mix on low until combined. With the mixer running on medium, add 3 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk on at a time, beating after each addition just until combined and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Using a spatula, give the filling a couple turns to make sure it is fully mixed.
  • Pour the filling over the cooled crust and use an offset spatula to smooth the filling evenly across the pan. Bang the bottom of the springform pan on the counter — any air bubbles in the batter will rise up to the surface of the batter and pop. Keep banging the bottom of the pan until little or no bubbles rise up to the surface any longer.
  • Set a roasting pan on the floor of the oven (if this is not your jam, see baker's notes; I have an alternative process for this) and fill it with 4 quarts of warm water. Place the springform pan on the center oven rack and bake for 1 hour without opening the door. Check the cheesecake after 1 hour — the outer 2 to 3 inches of the cheesecake should be slightly puffed and fairly firm, but the center should be set but still slightly jiggly when wiggled gently, resembling Jell-O. If the outer ring isn't firm, let the cheesecake bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. If it is done, turn off the oven heat, open the oven door just a crack, and let the cheesecake rest and cool in the warm, humid oven (with its door cracked!) for 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the foil from the pan, and carefully run a thin knife or an offset spatula around the border of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Once the cake is completely cool, place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the pan and transfer to the refrigerator. Let chill at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  • After the cheesecake has been chilled, remove the sides of the springform pan by gently popping them off. The cheesecake can be served slightly chilled, or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Notes