Classic New York Cheesecake

published Jan 27, 2022
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New York Cheesecake Recipe
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New York style cheesecake  with small dollops of whipped cream on a round serving platter, with two pieces cut out each on their own small dessert plate.
Credit: Laura Rege

Here’s a cheesecake fit for a New York City diner. Inspired by Junior’s, a NYC institution, it’s creamy, indulgent, and dense (yet not heavy). You won’t find any fancy ingredients here; the base consists of the usual trio of cream cheese (please use Philadelphia cream cheese if you can!), sugar, and eggs. There are also two important additions: Heavy cream and cornstarch help to lighten the texture and stabilize the filling.

While a cheesecake might seem an intimidating thing to make, it’s pretty easy to get right if you just follow a few key steps and plan ahead. The best part is you can bake and chill the cheesecake ahead of time and it’ll be just as good five days later.

Cheesecake Baking Tips

  • The crust: It’s hard to get a graham cracker crust wrong, but if you’re new to the process, we recommend flattening the buttered crumbs into the pan using a measuring cup or small glass to press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake it just until it is golden-brown and fragrant.
  • The batter: To prevent air bubbles from forming, don’t over-beat the cream cheese batter. This is especially important when adding the heavy cream, which can turn whipped cream-like if too much air is incorporated. 
  • Water bath: As tedious as it may seem, a water bath is key to a gentle bake and perfect texture. Make sure to wrap the pan with foil to prevent water from leaching in, and fill the roasting pan just halfway up with water.

When Is a New York Cheesecake Done?

The cheesecake is done when the outer few inches look slightly puffed and set, but the inner circle still jiggles (like Jell-O) when you gently shake the pan. 

Credit: Laura Rege

How to Cool Cheesecake

To achieve the perfect cheesecake texture, don’t rush it. Cheesecakes like to cool slowly with no drastic temperature changes. Once the cheesecake is baked, let it cool for an hour in the oven with the door cracked open. (This also helps cool down the water bath for safer removal from the oven.) Then let the cheesecake cool completely on a wire rack to room temperature before chilling it in the refrigerator.

How to Fix Cheesecake Cracks

Taking preventive measures like using cornstarch in the batter, setting up a water bath, and properly cooling the cheesecake should help avoid cracks, but even the most delicious cheesecakes can crack. If you do have a crack, embrace it! Pile the cheesecake with a cherry topping, whipped cream, fresh fruit, or sour cream. Or drizzle it with chocolate sauce or caramel. Basically cover the top to hide the crack and give the cheesecake whatever flavor you like.

New York Cheesecake Recipe

Here’s a cheesecake fit for a New York diner.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 45 minutes

Makes 1 (9-inch) cheesecake

Serves 12 to 16

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 5 (8-ounce) packages

    full-fat cream cheese

  • 2/3 cup

    heavy cream

  • 3

    large eggs

  • Cooking spray

  • 5 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 9 sheets

    graham crackers (1 sleeve)

  • 2 1/3 cups

    granulated sugar, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    cornstarch

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place 5 (8-ounce) packages full-fat cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Place 2/3 cup heavy cream and 3 large eggs on the counter. Let everything sit at room temperature while you prepare the crust.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Cut 2 (about 15-inch-long) sheets of aluminum foil. Place them on a work surface on top of each other to form a cross. Place the springform pan in the middle and fold the edges of the foil up and around the sides of the pan.

  3. Microwave 5 tablespoons unsalted butter until melted, about 30 seconds. (Alternatively, melt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.) Place 9 graham cracker sheets, 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until fine crumbs form, about 30 seconds. Add the melted butter and pulse to combine, about 8 pulses.

  4. Scrape the graham mixture into the the springform pan and use the bottom of a measuring cup or small glass to press it evenly into the bottom. Bake until golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Place the crust a wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large kettle or large saucepan of water to a boil. Prepare the filling.

  5. Add the remaining 2 cups granulated sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to the stand mixer. Beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment until the smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the beater and the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula.

  6. With the mixer on medium-low speed, beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Stop and scrape down the beater and mixer again.

  7. Pour in the heavy cream and beat on low speed until just combined, about 15 seconds. Do not overmix. Spoon the batter over the cooled crust and use a spatula to spread it into an even layer.

  8. Place the pan in a roasting pan or other high-sided baking dish. Being careful not to splash any water onto the cheesecake, carefully pour in enough boiling water to go about halfway up the sides of springform pan, or just below the top edge of the foil.

  9. Bake until the outer few inches look slightly puffed and set, but the inner circle still jiggles (like Jell-O) when you gently shake the pan, 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes. A toasted golden color top is fine, but if you see any cracks starting to form, move on to the next step right away.

  10. Turn off the oven. Leave the cheesecake in the oven, prop open the oven door with a wooden spoon, let cool for 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath. Discard the foil. Place on a wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 week covered tightly with plastic wrap.

  11. Remove the outer ring from the springform. Serve the cheesecake right from the springform bottom or slide a large offset spatula under the crust to transfer the cheesecake to a serving platter.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The crust can be made ahead, cooled, and stored wrapped tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days. The finished cheesecake can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly, for up to 1 week.

Storage: Refrigerate leftover cheesecake in an airtight container, or well wrapped, for up to 1 week.