At 10 PM on February 28, 2018, I found myself in the kitchen, and like Brazilians say, “coloquei a mão na massa” (literally meaning “put my hands in the dough,” but used as a means of saying that I “put myself to work”). I wanted to make something special I could share with my family the next day on my birthday. I had been thinking about making a cheesecake for a couple of days and was trying to avoid chocolaty things. So, I decided to bake a cheesecake for the first time ever. With all the ingredients brought to room temperature in front of me, I started my adventure.
I gathered some graham crackers, some vanilla wafers and some almonds, enough to make the crust of the cheesecake. I used a blender to turn them into a powder, but while transferring the mixture into a bowl I let the blender slip and it cracked on the floor… After cleaning everything, and not losing my patience, I went back to making some more crust!
This time, I used a ziplock bag and scissors’ handles (the big and heavy kind) to turn the ingredients into the powder. You can use a hammer, meat tenderizer, dough roller, or anything heavy enough to break the ingredients. It was not as fine as the mixture obtained in the blender, but the bigger chunks contributed to a better taste (in my opinion). I transferred everything into a bowl, this time safely.
I added about 2 to 4 tablespoons of melted butter, mixed everything, and placed it into a baking pan with removable sides, which is crucial for cheesecake making. Next up, I started making the batter. Remember I had my ingredients at room temperature? That is apparently essential to create the best smooth texture in cheesecakes and make sure the batter doesn’t crack in the oven.
In this recipe, I started by putting 24 oz of cream cheese into a mixer bowl. I used the mixer to make the cream cheese smooth before adding any other ingredients. Then, I added 1 & 1/3 cup of sugar and mixed it into the cream cheese. According to the internet and some cheesecake experts, beating the batter too much creates bubbles and contributes to breakage in your cheesecake, so to avoid a lot of air getting trapped, I mixed the ingredients well but did not overbeat them.
Soon after, I added 5 large eggs, each one at a time and mixed them well with the previous ingredients. Then, I added 1/4 cup of flour (I used all-purpose flour), 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract. Finally, I added 16 oz of sour cream. I transferred it to the baking pan and did not pour any chunks of cream cheese that were left unmixed, but incorporated them into the batter with a spoon. The batter looked and tasted delicious, rich, and smooth.
I placed it in the oven preheated at 325 F and left it for one hour. It might take up to 1.5 hours for the cheesecake to be ready. However, mine was ready in less than one! Once I realized it, the edges of my cheesecake were starting to burn. I quickly took it out and left it cool for about 30-40 minutes. Ideally, you should leave it out until it reaches room temperature, but it was already 1:30 AM, and I was sleepy. I placed it in the fridge until about 7 PM.
A little before serving it, I quickly made a strawberry compote and served it hot with the cold cheesecake. Although it was not perfect because I left it in the oven for too long, it tasted amazing (modesty is a virtue) and everyone enjoyed it. I would certainly recommend trying this specific cheesecake recipe.
My only warning is the baking time. The ideal cheesecake is firm throughout but soft in the middle. Once that texture is achieved, you can take it out of the oven and cool it to room temperature. Another advice, place the baking pan on top of a baking sheet pan or equivalent so that the batter doesn’t spill at the bottom, just in case. Enjoy!