Family. Such a polarizing word, isn’t it? For some people, it can mean people you’re closest to, and feeling loved. For others, not so much. But what’s that one thing that always brings any side of any family together in a perfect world without friction and air resistance? Food.
For me, when it comes to food from my family, I get two very distinct sides. One is classic Midwestern, with meatloaf, boiled broccoli, and mashed potatoes. The other is the flamboyant Italian, with deep, rich, warming flavors. You know what also comes with that flavor profile? Memories of my grandmother chasing me with her sauce spoon. But plot twist, that gargantuan spoon is mine, so joke’s on her now.
My grandmother is an amazing cook. Out. Of. This. World. She’s the classic Italian grandmother that you’ve always wanted, and no, you can’t have her. You probably couldn’t handle her. When her and my mother are together in the kitchen, you’d better pray that your voice box is ready.
Anyway, you know those single dishes that bring you back to childhood, that have been passed down for generations? Yeah, this isn’t one of them. This is a recipe that’s been used in the past few years, but every time we make it, it reminds me of that New York Italian culture, and how much passion and love comes from that lineage. It’s generations of other Italian families coming together for Sunday dinner, with parents, children, friends, the rest of the mafia, having a good time.
This is a family cheesecake. This isn’t one of those dumb 3-ingredient Buzzfeed or Pinterest cheesecakes. This is something better. Granted, a rusty trashcan is better than anything I’ve found on either of those sites. Is this a bad time to plug the fact that we have all of our regularly scheduled demo recipes on Pinterest?
This cheesecake is crazy good. What makes the difference is that with this one, heavy cream and cornstarch is added to the traditional mixture, to make a slurry of sorts, making this cheesecake rich, silky smooth, and absolutely heavenly. I’d give up my first born for this thing, but that’s also reason #59 why I shouldn’t be a parent.
For the Crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
For the Filling
Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese (full fat only, this is not designed to be healthy, people)
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs (if you use a chia egg here, the mafia will come after you)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
For the Crust
Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar together in a bowl until butter is evenly distributed. Press into 9 inch springform pan, and bake for 10 minutes at 350°F. Cool before filling with pillowy goodness. Wasn’t that easy? Just make sure to keep the oven on. The cake will bake at the same temperatures.
For the Filling
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment if your mixer has one, beat 1 package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch together on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the cream just until completely blended. The filling will look light, creamy, and airy. Overmix it and it’s game over. That’s really important. Do that, and you’ll ruin everything, and your family will be sad, because you singlehandedly screwed up the best cheesecake you might ever have. Gently spoon the batter over the crust, evenly distributing it throughout the pan so that there’s an even level of batter. Line the outside of the pan with aluminum foil to prevent any water leaking into the crust. Place the lined cake pan in a large shallow roasting pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the side of the springform pan. Bake until the edge is light golden brown, the top is light gold, and the center jiggles slightly, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours, your mileage may vary here. If the cake still feels soft around the edge, let it bake for 10 minutes more. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let it cool for 2 hours. Walk away, don’t touch it, don’t shout around it, don’t even look at it. It’s judging you. Refrigerate the cake, still in the pan, until completely cold before serving, at least 6 hours.
Isn’t that just the easiest recipe you’ve ever read?????????????
I promise this thing is worth it. And all the effort you put in will compensate for all the calories! Moderation, people.
You can top this with whatever you want, really. My favorite is a ginger, strawberry, and basil sauce. But that’s also pretty complicated. Chocolate sauce will do just fine. Or just eat it out of the pan like I do.
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Written by Zach “Awkward Hands” Jordan
Sophomore // Theme Park Structural Engineering, Communications