The cheesecake recipe is SO easy, with only FIVE ingredients, plus the crust, but needs to be done ahead of time. This is a basic recipe. You can change it up to "make it fancy" as you like.
4 pkg. of cream cheese (8 oz. each)
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 TBS cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Get ingredients to room temperature
2. Turn oven on to 500 degrees
3. Make crust using 1 cup of crushed crackers, a few tbs of sugar and 3 TBS butter. . .adjust to taste and press into a 9 inch springform pan, up the sides a little bit, then bake for a few minutes on 500 degrees.
4. Remove the crust from the oven and spray the inside sides of the pan with baking spray (PAM)
4. Beat first 5 ingredients together
5. Add eggs two at a time and beat in between
6. Pour batter into the baked graham cracker crust
7. Bake as follows, WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN DOOR (this is key. . . RESIST the toddler-urge to open the door and look!) until it is time to cool it on the counter:
10 minutes at 500 degrees
1 hour at 200 degrees
1-2 hours in hot oven
1 hour on counter
8. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour before covering and letting "ripen" in the fridge overnight at least.
9. Slice with a sharp knife run under hot water between each slice. . .into AT LEAST 16 slices. . .this is a VERY RICH cake. . .serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream (the real stuff please!)
Now for the fancy stuff: You can make this as fancy as you would like, get creative. . . serve it with chocolate or fruit syrups, OR go gourmet and try any other thing you can think of. Some things I have made with success include:
1. Snickers cheesecake. . .adding chopped Snickers layered in the batter
2. Raspberry chocolate cheesecake. . .raspberry jam and chocolate sauce (made from melted chocolate chips stirred with a few tablespoons of heavy cream) dropped by small bits all over the cheesecake batter in the pan (right before baking) then swirled into the batter. . .oh yeah, and the batter had a 1/2 tsp. of lemon extract added for a slight tang to match the raspberries.
3. Strawberry marble chocolate cheesecake. . .strawberry extract added to the batter (several tablespoons) and chocolate added to some of the batter then poured in a swirled.
Some people recommend putting a pan of water underneath the cake while it bakes to keep it moist and from cracking, but it turns out fine for me. . .though I think a few small cracks make it seem like a REAL cheesecake!
Please post your comments if you make this cheesecake and PLEASE, pretty please, comment with any variations you make. . .if you give me permission, I will honor some variations with inclusion in the "variations" section.