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New York Cheesecake

(recipe, Ruth Reichl)


Cheesecake is something every cook should have in his or her repertoire, if only because it's such a cheap trick. It's fast, it's easy, and it can make the most modest meal a celebration. This one is an absolute classic. I've been modifying the recipe since I first spied it in a magazine when I was in high school.


  1. 1½ cups graham-cracker crumbs (about 6 ounces)
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. ½ cup melted unsalted butter
  4. 1½ lb. cream cheese, preferably without gum, at room temperature
  5. 4 eggs
  6. 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  7. Grated zest of 1 lemon
  8. 2 cups sour cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the graham crackers with ¼ cup of the sugar and the melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch ungreased springform pan. Chill while preparing the filling.
  3. Beat the cream cheese, ½ cup of the sugar, the eggs, 2 teaspoons of the vanilla extract, and the lemon zest until smooth.
  4. Pour into the chilled crust and bake 50 minutes to an hour, or until the cheese is set and starting to turn golden in spots. Remove from the oven (leave the oven on) and cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack.
  5. Stir together the sour cream, remaining ¼ cup of sugar, and remaining teaspoon of vanilla extract. Spread over the cooled cake, then return to the oven for 12 minutes or until glossy and set.
  6. Cool completely, cover, and chill at least 8 hours.