I still pine for the old days of Food Network when there were more tutorial-style cooking shows than reality TV and competitions, even in their prime-time lineup.
Cooking Channel has filled that void to a degree, but even it has turned the tide somewhat from chef-led, first person cooking shows to competitive programming.
In the old days of Food Network, Tyler Florence was one of my favorites. I loved Tyler’s Ultimate (2003-2010) and — going waaaayyyy back — Food 911 (2001-2006). He’s really likable, and his simple way of cooking good food makes you want to try all his recipes.
And, let’s face it, on Tyler’s Ultimate, he had THE coolest kitchen set of all the Food Network chefs. I drooled over the green subway tile and copper pots hanging in his kitchen…
But back to the point of this post. I’m a big fan of cheesecake, and the creamier the better. A few years ago I was asked to make dessert for my mom’s birthday, and since she too likes cheesecake (genetics, anyone?), I set out to find the best cheesecake recipe.
Enter Tyler and The Ultimate Cheesecake: creamy, sweet, tart, and tangy, this cheesecake was absolutely amazing. That day, I followed Tyler’s recipe exactly — it was my first, and I knew cheesecakes can be a little testy. It turned out perfect; just like the picture!
Pro Tip: If you make the blueberry sauce (which you totally should), let both the cheesecake and the sauce sit in the fridge overnight separately to cool completely and thoroughly. Then, put your cheesecake together just before serving time.
Anyway, since landing on that cheesecake recipe, I’ve made dozens more, and also variations of cheesecakes that have turned out great.
As far as a simple, tried and true, base cheesecake recipe goes, this is it. Your one and only.
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
- 1 stick salted butter, melted
- 2 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese, softened to room temp
- 3 large eggs, room temp
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 pint sour cream
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Set a kettle to boil stove top. Prep a 10" springform cake pan by placing it on a large piece of aluminum foil and wrapping the foil tightly up its sides. Give the inside a coating with non-stick spray. Then, place the springform in a large roasting pan, and set it aside while you make the crust and filling.
- Using a fork, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the salt, sugar, cardamom and butter in a mixing bowl until they're evenly moistened. Pour the crumbs into the springform pan and press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. I use my fingers, but a flat bottomed glass or a measuring cup work well, too. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
- Beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps (I use my stand mixer, but a hand-held mixer works fine, too). Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each, and continue to beat slowly until everything's combined. Gradually add the sugar a 1/4 cup at a time, and beat the batter on medium for 2 minutes until the mixture's creamy.
- Add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla, and continue to mix for 1 more minute (don't over-mix), taking care to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters a few times. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
- Pour boiling water from the kettle into the roasting pan until the water's about halfway up the sides of the springform pan (that foil you used will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake). Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes.
- When the time's up, the cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling). Be careful not to overcook! Let it cool in pan for 30 minutes, then transfer it to chill completely in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours — overnight is better.
- Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer it to a cake plate (leave the bottom of the springform attached to the cheesecake).
- Run a sharp, non-serrated knife under warm water before slicing the cheesecake, wiping off the knife after each cut, and running it again under warm water before each of the cuts.
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