Cheesecake is probably one of my favorite desserts. Rich, creamy and indulgent, how can you not like it? But for somebody who loves cheesecake so much, I have a dark secret - I NEVER made one by myself! Can you believe that? I mean, never until now! I always thought that it was tricky, required some supernatural powers and took hours! Well, it does take some time, not the prep or cook time, but rather a "cooling time", but other than that it is super easy! I can not believe I was so scared to make it. As a proof, here is the recipe:
* 24oz cream cheese (3 bricks), room temp.
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 lemon, juice and zest
* 2 tsp vanilla extract
* 2 eggs, room temp.
* 5-6 tbsp strawberry preserve, recipe can be found here
* 10 graham crackers
* 5 tbsp melted butter
1. Break the graham crackers into a food processor and process until they form fine crumbs. Drizzle in melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
2. Press the crust into the foil-lined 8x8 pan and bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool while making the filling.
3. Decrease the oven temperature to 325F.
4. In a standing mixer, beat the softened cream cheese, slowly add sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Beat everything for 2-3 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
4. Pour cheese mix onto the cooled crust, randomly distribute the strawberry preserve on the top and using a knife swirl the preserve to create a "marble pattern".
5. Bake at 325F for 45-50 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the oven (it will still be "jiggly" and wet, but it's OK), let it cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before cutting into it.
Doesn't it look pretty? And it tastes pretty good as well! Perfect balance of sweet with some salty and acidic notes. Lemon juice and zest is really a key here, it just makes it so fresh and vibrant. You could use any kind of fruit preserve, or you could just skip it all together, I'm sure it would be delicious no matter what!