I was never a huge cheesecake fan... if given the choice of cheesecake or something else I would usually pick the something else. That was until I had met my husband, who is a huge cheesecake fan and would always pick cheesecake over anything else. I discovered this recipe, which is called Three Cities of Spain cheesecake (from Three Cities of Spain coffeehouse in New Mexico that closed in the 70's) and it converted me into a cheesecake fan! What sets this cheesecake apart is after it's baked it gets a thin layer of lightly sweetened sour cream on top, and briefly baked in the oven to set it. The addition of the sour cream helps to balance the sweetness of the cheesecake. I also prefer to use cinnamon sugar graham crackers, or add some cinnamon to a regular graham crackers crust, for an extra dimension of flavor.
Three Cities of Spain Cheesecake
5 oz (1 1/2 cups) graham crackers finely crushed- you can also use gingersnaps, chocolate cookies, vanilla wafers
1/3 cup of sugar (you can adjust the amount or leave it out completely if using cookies that are fairly sweet)
5 TBS melted butter
1/8 tsp of salt
1 tsp of cinnamon (optional, but if using regular graham crackers I highly recommend it!)
Mix everything together in a small bowl and press into the bottom of a 8" or 9" greased springform pan (if you use a 8" pan the cake will be a little higher).
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the crust in the oven for 5 minutes, long enough to dry out the crust. Once the pan is cool, wrap the outside in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil, using the top of the pan to help hold up the plastic and foil, make sure all the plastic is tucked inside the foil. Set aside and turn the oven down to 300 degrees.
24 oz of SOFTENED cream cheese
4 lg room temperature eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
16 oz sour cream
2 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
It is very important that the cream cheese is softened so you don't end up with lumps. I like to use a mixer to mix the filling, but this could easily be done by hand as well. It is important that the sugar and cream cheese is creamed together really well so there aren't little lumps of cream cheese left. Once you start adding eggs it is important to not over mix or incorporate too much air (so the filling remains dense and creamy).
Cream together the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed, scrape down continually to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Turn the mixer down to low and add the eggs one at a time, making sure to stop and scrape after each addition. Add the next egg only after the previous one is completely mixed in. Add in the vanilla and any other desired flavors at the end. Pour into the par baked crust and put pan into a larger pan and fill it with hot water that goes 1/2 way up the sides of the pan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Mix the topping while the cheesecake bakes and set aside until the cheesecake is done. To test the cheesecake for doneness, gently tap the pan (the actual cheesecake, if you tap the outside pan it will make the water slosh and possibly go up into the cheesecake) and if you see it wiggle all together then it's done (as opposed to sending a ripple through the batter). After the cheesecake is done, let it sit for 10 minutes and then carefully spread the sour cream topping evenly over the top. Put it back into the oven for 10 minutes. Pull it out, let the cheesecake cool and then once it's room temperature, put it into the refrigerator and let it cool completely. Unmold and cut with a hot clean knife...
Fresh strawberries or strawberry puree make a wonderful accompaniment!
Baking options- I recently tried two other ways to bake cheesecake:
Cupcakes: Use paper liners, and press some of the crust into the bottom and par bake the same way. You don't need a hot water bath and the cooking time will be dramatically reduced (check after 20 minutes). Once the cheesecake is done, take it out of the oven and put the sour cream topping on and return it to the oven for 5 minutes. You can either leave the papers on (if letting people serve them selves, it might be easier) or you can peel the paper off before serving. It helps if the cheesecake is completely cool and thoroughly chilled.
In the pressure cooker!
Follow the directions as stated in the recipe above, but you don't need to wrap the outside with plastic and foil, instead raise it off the bottom of the pressure cooker and put 2 cups of water in the bottom, and then cover the top of the pan instead with foil. Once the pressure has been reached in the pan, cook for 25 minutes (cooking time will vary from brand to brand), take it out, and spread the sour cream on top and bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 (make sure to leave the oven on after par baking the crust) and you're done! I like that I don't have to mess around with the water bath and the cheesecake turned out wonderfully creamy and perfectly cooked!