Once upon a time there was a little Italian lady named Stella. She was an honorary member of our family from the time I was a little girl. Stella crocheted us afghans and slippers and scarves and made all manner of delicious Italian foods for us.
And she made cheesecake, bless her heart. This is no nasty Jello number either. It's the real thing—a real, heavy, dense, Italian cheesecake. Stella is gone now, but she left us a rich inheritance. She left us the cheesecake recipe. And I'm going to share it with you.
Start with graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Stir in the melted butter and press the crumbs onto the bottom and about an inch up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. You can use a flat measuring cup to make it pretty if you're OCD like me. Or just use your hands. That's what Stella did.
In your mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese until it's softened. Then add 3 tablespoons of flour,
2/3 cup of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt,
and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Beat it all well and scrape the sides a few times.
Separate 6 eggs.
Add the yolks one at a time to the cream cheese mixture, beating and scraping and beating and scraping.
Make sure you dribble some down the side of the bowl.
Finally, add 1/2 cup heavy cream. (Edited 7/11/2011: Make that 1 full cup. Go big or go home.) And scrape the sides again. This recipe involves a lot of scraping.
Now beat the egg whites in a big bowl until stiff peaks form. They haven't formed yet in this photo, but you can only do so many things at once and I had to put the camera down so I could hold the beater with my right hand. I don't know how left-handed photographers function.
Now gently, gently, fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture. Or the other way around if you want. It's a free country.
Pour the batter into the crust. I would say scrape the bowl clean, but then there wouldn't be any left to eat raw and that would be a tragedy. (Yes, I know about the dangers of eating raw eggs. For cheesecake batter I'll take my chances.)
Bake for one hour. When you first open the oven door the cheesecake will be taller than the pan. It sinks down a little as it cools. Turn the oven off and open the door a crack and leave it there to cool.
Your house will smell heavenly and you will be tempted to dig in right away. DON'T DO IT!
Step away from the cheesecake!
Cover it well with plastic wrap (leave it in the pan) and refrigerate until the next day. Tomorrow it will be perfect. It's best eaten for breakfast with a cup of coffee.
If I remember, I'll take a photo of a piece on Thursday. Enjoy!
Here are the amounts:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
3 (8-oz) blocks cream cheese
3 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
Be thankful ~