I had a craving for cheesecake a few weeks ago. I knew my Mom used to make it all the time for wedding receptions, and she swears she won't make anything that isn't easy. Cream cheese was on sale, so I invested in some and dug out my mom's recipe.
Turns out, she's right. Cheesecake is easy--and comes out WAY better than the storebought kind. Anda and I checked a few days ago, and what you can make for around $4 costs $12 to buy--and the bought one is inferior.
I discovered very quickly that a cheesecake is a nice gift--people like them, they look fancy, and they freeze well (and therefore transport well).
So I'm posting the recipe here, since I keep promising to give it to friends.
3 packages cream cheese (8 oz each), softened
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice
4 large or 5 medium eggs
1/3 lb graham crackers (1 pkg from a 1 lb box) crushed to about 1 1/4 c fine crumbs
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter or margarine
Beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each on medium or low speed, and scraping the bowl frequently. Mix graham crackers and 1/4 c sugar. Add melted butter and mix well. Press into 9" springform pan or 9" round cake pan lined with foil. You can just press it into the bottom, or part-way up the sides, too. Pour in filling. Tap it gently on the counter or run a knife through it to pop the bubbles, if there are any. Bake at 300-315 F for one hour. Then turn off the oven but leave the door closed for an hour. Then prop the oven door open with a butter knife for another hour. Chill overnight or freeze (this is an important step--it "fixes" the texture). Use the foil to life the cheesecake from the cake pan after it's chilled or frozen.
You can actually freeze this overnight, remove the pan, and slide the whole cheesecake into a gallon-sized ziploc bag to serve later.
I discovered that you can cook two at a time, but not three--three pushes them too close to the oven walls and they don't cook evenly.
Also, I discovered that cream cheese has a "use by" date that is six months down the road. So you can buy a bunch when it's on sale and then have cheesecake whenever you want.
Finally, we tried seriously whipping the mixture (usually a "no-no" with cheesecake) and it came out so incredibly fantastic--but it had cracks all over the surface, so it wasn't pretty when it was done. Worth trying, though!
Three notes from my mom, the cheesecake master:
1. Cream cheese should be room temp so it doesn't lump.
2. Beat as much as you want until you add the eggs. After the eggs, almost no
3. Cream cheese is good for months after the expiration date.