We’ve been making versions of this New York-style cheesecake for about 20 years, sometimes substituting cream, or crème fraîche or sour cream for mascarpone, sometimes whole eggs and extra eggs, sometimes adding praline powder to batter, or substituting ginger snaps for graham crackers. All of which is to say that the batter-making is quite forgiving and open to invention — but the manner of baking is not.
The magic of this recipe is in the burst of heat, followed by the long and slow cook, which gives the cake a uniform texture from center to edge that rarely cracks.
The balance of richness of mascarpone and the lightness of the eggs is just right, neither too California-style creamy, nor dry or grainy like some ultra-traditional versions with ricotta.
With a few pieces of kitchen equipment — you really need a stand mixer and an 8-inch springform pan — the actual mixing and prep takes a leisurely 30 minutes.
It’s easy to accomplish, easy to love, can be made a day or two ahead, and is better than any other version you’ll likely find within a 100 miles.
Can you say Valentine’s Day?
- 2 pounds of cream cheese
- 1/2 cup mascarpone
- 4 eggs ( 2 whole, 2 whites)
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- Butter (to prepare pan)
- Graham crackers (to make about 1 cup of crumbs)
- Preheat oven to 500F.
- Separate two eggs, keeping only the whites.
- Let cream cheese, whole eggs, whites and mascarpone reach room temperature – about an hour — on the kitchen counter.
- Reduce graham crackers to a fine crumb in a food processor and set aside.
- Butter an 8-inch springform pan and generously dust the bottom and sides with the crumbs, tapping out and discarding any that are remaining.
- Place the prepared springform pan in the freezer.
Making the batter
With a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-low until it is light and fluffy. You may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl, once or twice, to catch any remaining lumps. Add sugar and continue to beat for about 3 minutes until the mixture is fairly smooth and well-incorporated.
Add eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two, and scraping down the sides of the bowl between eggs to help minimize any lumps. Add lemon zest and vanilla, and finally mascarpone, beating for 2 or 3 more minutes until you have a fairly smooth batter. Don’t worry if the batter is not perfectly smooth.
Remove the springform pan from the freezer and lightly scrape the batter into the pan. The batter should fill the pan about halfway.
Place the filled springform pan in the preheated 500F oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 200F – opening the door for about 4 minutes to cool – and cook for an additional 60 minutes. When done, the center should still jiggle like jello.
Turn off the oven and crack the door — you can hold it open with the handle of a wooden spoon if necessary — leave for an additional 60 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. Refrigerate overnight, covering only when fully chilled.
The cheesecake should release from the pan easily once chilled.
Serves 8 to 12