We bonded over the decadent dessert on a trip to Chicago nearly 10 years ago, where we ate a slice of cheesecake — or two — from The Cheesecake Factory (which hadn’t yet opened in Hawaii) just about everyday we were there.
Yes, we ate a lot of cheesecake.
But after living in a super-small studio space that barely fit my bed, a couch, a dresser and an exercise ball, I all but retired my 9-inch springform cake pan.
Until this weekend.
I decided it was time I made use of the kitchen I now have and bake my mom one of her favorite desserts. I figured it’s Mother’s Day, she deserves it, and she told us not to buy her anything — but didn’t say anything about baking her something.
So I searched online and through cookbooks — yes, I still have those! — for a light cheesecake that still have the density of a classic New York-style, my mom’s favorite. I settled on a lemon cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, which, as a bonus, allowed me to use up all the gingersnap cookies I had in the pantry.
While I don’t use the traditional ricotta, this version with Philadelphia cream cheese — not the light version, either! — makes for a creamy, smooth and rich cheesecake.
Here’s the step-by-step, with the recipe below:
Making the crust
Lemon cheesecake with gingersnap crust
from Bon Appetit, March 2005
2 c. ground gingersnap cookies
6 T. unsalted butter, melted
5 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
7 large eggs
3 c. sour cream
2 T. packed finely grated lemon peel
2 T. fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir cookie crumbs and butter in medium bowl until evenly moistened. Press mixture onto bottom of a 9-inch springform cake pan with 3-inch-high sides. Bake crust until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Stack three large sheets of foil on work surface. Place same cake pan in center. Gather foil snugly around pan bottom and up sides to waterproof it.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, then salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in sour cream, grated lemon peel and lemon juice. Pour filling into pan.
Place wrapped cake pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake cake until filling is slightly puffed and moves only slightly when pan is shaken gently, about 1 hour and 25 minutes. Remove cake pan from water bath; remove foil. Cool cake in pan on rack for two hours. Chill uncovered until cold; cover and keep chilled for at least a day or two.
Cut around pan sides; carefully loosen pan bottom from sides and push up pan bottom to release cake. Place cake (still on pan bottom) on platter. Garnish with lemon leaves or twists.