Cheesecake variations are limited only by your imagination. They are wonderful flavored with chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, pumpkin, lemon and every possible berry. Likewise, the crust can be made of graham crackers, sponge cake, chocolate cookies, pie dough or any combination of these. Topping options are also endless.
What most cheesecakes do have in common is that they consist of a bottom layer followed by a sweetened cheese layer and then an optional topping. The filling can include eggs and be baked for a firmer consistency or omit the eggs for a creamy, no-bake cheesecake.
This recipe is for the steakhouse classic baked variety with a graham cracker crust and strawberry topping. And while some people are intimidated to tackle it, it's actually a very easy recipe. Using the combination of cream cheese and ricotta tends to reduce the chance of the top cracking. But no worries either way since it will be covered with strawberry compote.
- For the Crust:
- 2 cups crushed graham crackers
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- For the Filling:
- 16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 8 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- For the Strawberry Topping:
- 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Pinch salt
Preheat the oven to 325F.
To make the crust, stir together the crushed graham crackers, sugar, melted butter and salt until well combined. Note that you can crush the graham crackers in a food processor or place them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of a greased 9" cake pan, ideally a spring-form pan. Use the back of a measuring cup to even the mixture and let it come partly up the sides of the pan. Note that you can also line the pan with a round piece of parchment paper for easy transfer to a serving plate when baked.
Bake the crust for 7 minutes and remove from the oven to cool slightly. Leave the oven on.
To make the filling, combine the softened cream cheese, ricotta cheese, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add the melted butter and then the flour and mix thoroughly. Note that you can also do this in a stand mixer but a food processor will yield a smoother batter.
Pour the cheesecake batter into the slightly cooled graham cracker crust and bake for 70 to 75 minutes until the top is set. If it has a very tiny wiggle when it's done, that's fine and it will set. Allow the cake to cool thoroughly before removing from the pan.
Make the topping by adding the strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice and salt to a pot. Cooking on medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the strawberries begin to soften. Allow to cool and spoon over the top of the cooled cake. Slice and serve.