Spring is in full swing, which means it’s time to get in the kitchen and prepare some of your favorite delicious, fresh food. If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, food blogger Natasha Kravchuk of Natasha's Kitchen has concocted the perfect New York cheesecake recipe, and it's not complete until you pair it with her homemade cherry sauce.
It all starts with the Graham cracker crust. Kravchuk uses a food processor, but you can place the crackers in a large Ziplock bag and roll them with a rolling pin until finely crumbled. When it comes time to make that decadent cheesecake filling, make sure your cream cheese has come to room temperature.
If you're using a stand mixer, Kravchuk recommends scraping the bowl all the way down to the bottom and around the mixing attachment a few times throughout the mixing process to ensure you get the smoothest filling possible. Fully incorporate each egg one at a time.
Loaded with sweet juicy cherries, the homemade sauce is a perfect topping for cheesecake, pancakes, waffles, vanilla ice cream, or pound cake. It could also be used as pie filling. The sauce is quick and easy to make, and all the ingredients are cooked together in one saucepan, leaving you with an irresistible sauce you’ll be tempted to eat with a spoon.
With the warm weather, Natasha suggests you take advantage of fresh cherries at the peak of growing season. Frozen cherries are also a great choice as they’re typically pre-pitted, saving you the step of removing cherry pits. Keep in mind that frozen fruit releases more juice, so if you’re using frozen cherries, add a little less water.
Now, you're ready to dig into the perfect New York cheesecake!
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 12 crackers)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/4 lb (4.5 8-oz packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
Crush graham crackers into crumbs. In a medium bowl, combine crumbs together with melted butter and sugar and stir until moistened.
Press crumbs into a 9" spring-form pan, going up the sides slightly. Bake in the center of the oven at 350˚F for 8 minutes then cool to room temperature.
Place 2 large sheets of extra-wide heavy-duty foil on the counter. Set the spring-form pan in the center and fold the foil up the sides of the pan ensuring there are no rips or holes. Fan the foil out slightly at the tops to keep the rim clear for rising.
Preheat oven to 450˚F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine cream cheese and 1 1/4 cups sugar. Beat on medium/high speed for 5 minutes until completely smooth, scraping down the bowl and attachment as needed.
Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, letting them incorporate between each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed.
Reduce speed to low and add 1/4 cup sour cream and 1/2 Tbsp vanilla and mix just until incorporated. Pour batter over the foil-wrapped spring-form pan with your cooled crust.
How to Bake Cheesecake in a Water Bath
Boil a pot of water (boil more than you think you'll need to ensure there's enough). Set your cheesecake pan in a deep roasting pan. Pour hot water around the edges about half-way up the sides of the spring-form pan (1 1/2" to 2" of water).
Carefully transfer cheesecake to the center rack of the oven and bake at 450˚F for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 225˚F and without opening the door, bake additional 60-75 minutes or until center of cheesecake wobbles slightly when you tap the pan.
Remove cheesecake from the oven and let it rest in the roasting pan with water for 45 minutes then transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Cover pan with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight to fully set before slicing.
4 cups sweet cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted*
1/4 to 1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of sugar
In a medium saucepan (off the heat), add water (use 1/3 cup for fresh cherries and 1/4 cup water for frozen cherries). Whisk in 1 Tbsp cornstarch, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp sugar.
Place over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture starts to thicken.
Add cherries and cook stirring occasionally until sauce is at a light boil (about 6-10 minutes for fresh cherries and 12-15 minutes for frozen). The sauce should be thickened and uniformly bubbling, not just at the edges, then remove from heat.
Cool to room temperature then cover and store in the refrigerator in a glass mason jar or Tupperware container until ready to use. It will thicken more as it stands.