My Classic Cheesecake is a family favorite that we make each year for Shavuot, or just because. It’s a rich indulgent treat, a baking project worth diving into. Adding a juicy blueberry topping, or my “famous” strawberry topping, will take it to a whole new level of scrumptious.
Shavuot is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The two day-long holiday marks the end of the seven week “Counting of the Omer.” This seven week period signifies the time that passed between Passover and the day God delivered the Torah to Moses and the Israelites on Mt. Sinai. Learn more about Shavuot and cooking for the holiday here. Dairy food plays an important part in the Shavuot culinary tradition. What a fantastic excuse to bake one of my favorite indulgences– CHEESECAKE!
Cheesecake is an art form, and taking the time to learn a proper recipe is worth the effort. This Classic Cheesecake is a solid, basic recipe that I’ve tweaked and perfected over the years. Be sure to follow the steps exactly as written, or you might end up with a cracked, soggy, or strangely textured cake! Additionally, keep in mind that making cheesecake is a long process– so if you want to serve it for Shavuot, plan ahead. 🙂
Feel free to top this cheesecake to give it more personality. I’ve provided my blueberry topping recipe here, or you can use a strawberry topping. Or, if you’re a cheesecake purist, serve it as-is… it should impress any true cheesecake aficionado. This recipe has never let me down!
Looking for other holiday recipe ideas? Check out my Shavuot cooking category.
Other Cheesecake Recipes You Might Enjoy
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- 10 full-size honey graham crackers (1 cup pulverized graham cracker crumbs)
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 2 pounds cream cheese (4 bricks)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup half and half (or substitute heavy cream)
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
Blueberry Topping Ingredients (optional)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
To Make Cheesecake
- About 45 minutes before baking, take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator so it can return to room temperature.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place a piece of parchment paper over the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan, then seal the springform pan edge around the base. The base should be covered by parchment paper with edges of the paper sticking out from the sides of the pan. This paper will keep the cheesecake from sticking to the bottom of your pan. Grease the inner sides of the springform pan with butter or cooking spray, making sure the sides are fully coated. Do not spray the parchment paper on the bottom.IMPORTANT: Make sure your springform pan is fully locked and secure around the parchment paper! There is nothing worse than filling a springform pan with batter and having the pan fall apart or leak on you. If you have an older or lower quality pan that doesn't lock tightly, you may want to cut the parchment paper into a circle to line the bottom rather than letting the edges stick out, so there is no layer of parchment to interfere with the seal.
- In a food processor, pulse together graham crackers, powdered sugar, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until a crumbly powder forms (about 30 seconds of processing). Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and continue to process for another 10 seconds. Push the crumbs down the sides of the processor, stir them with a spoon, and continue processing for about 10 more seconds. At the end of processing, crumbs should be evenly darkened/moistened by the butter. Press crumb mixture firmly in an even layer across the bottom of the springform pan.Thoroughly clean and dry the food processor. Pulse the cream cheese about 10 times, then add the rest of the cheesecake ingredients (eggs, sugar, sour cream, half and half, sweetened condensed milk, flour, and vanilla). Continue to process the ingredients together, using short 1-second pulses to blend the ingredients for about 15 seconds total mixing time. Do not over-mix-- this will cause the cheesecake's texture to change. Filling consistency should be smooth (no lumps), but not watery.
- Fill the teapot with water and heat it up on the stovetop. While water is heating, pour the cheesecake filling carefully into the prepared springform pan. Smooth the surface of the cheesecake filling with a spatula or spoon; pop any large bubbles that rise to the surface.
- When the teapot boils, carefully fill a wide roasting pan with the hot water (don't burn yourself!). Place the roasting pan on the bottom of the oven, and place the springform pan onto the middle rack of the oven above the pan of water. This creates a steamy environment in the oven, which allows the cake to bake more evenly (see note below). Close the oven and bake at 325 degrees F for one hour.At the end of one hour, take the roasting pan with water out of the oven. Close the oven, turn off the heat, and let the cheesecake cool slowly inside the oven for 3 hours. This slow cooling will prevent the top of the cake from cracking. (If you don't care about cracking, you can cool it out of the oven, which will bring it back to room temperature more quickly.)
- After 3 hours, remove the pan from the oven. Let it return to room temperature, then place the cheesecake in the refrigerator and chill for at least 12 hours. Gently remove the cake from the springform pan after it is thoroughly chilled. If using a topping, spread it on after chilling the cake. Serve cold.Note: I prefer the steaming method I described above to a traditional "water bath" or bain-marie-- it saves you having to wrap the springform pan in foil. I've tried this cheesecake both in a direct water bath and with this indirect steaming method, and the result is exactly the same-- plus, you don't have to worry about making the springform pan watertight. Less muss, less fuss. 🙂
To Make Blueberry Topping
- In a small saucepan, heat 1/3 cup of water. Slowly dissolve sugar and cornstarch as the water heats up. When mixture boils, add blueberries. Stir slowly and constantly for 4-5 minutes until mixture is thick, syrupy, and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let the topping return to room temperature, then place it in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour. Stir well before spreading on top of the cheesecake.