crust: 2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs 1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted 2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar 1 tsp. vanilla extract
cheesecake: 3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature 1 cup / 210 g sugar 3 large eggs 1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream 1 tbsp. lemon juice 1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean) 1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
DIRECTIONS: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.Variations (for full 9" cheesecake): Lemon Cheesecake Crust: Graham Cracker Crust Filling: Add zest of 3 lemons 3 T lemon juice (no liquor) Pistachio Cheesecake Crust: 1C finely ground pistachios 1/3 C graham cracker crumbs 1 T sugar (more if you like sweeter crust) Filling: zest of 1 lemon Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Crust: Graham Cracker Crust Filling: Add contents of 1 vanilla bean to filling no liquour Margarita Cheesecake (changes for next time) Crust: Graham Cracker Crust 1T sugar 1tsp salt no vanilla Filling: zest of 3 limes 1/3 C lime juice Substitute Orange Extract for Vanilla 1T Tequila Coarse Salt with zest for garnish