1 lb. Russ and Daughters cream cheese
1 ½ lbs. Philadelphia Cream Cheese
½ cup sour cream
1 ½ cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
10 Graham Crackers, crushed
1 Tablespoon white sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Set your cream cheese and eggs out on the counter. They need to come to room temp before using. Use food processor or vitamix to break graham crackers down to rough crumbs. Or just put them in a plastic bag and bang it on the counter.
BTW, this recipe is very specifically based on a 9” springform pan. That diameter gives you a very thin (1/8”) graham cracker crust. I think that’s enough with a filling this amazing, and I’m a guy who typically wants the deepest crust possible. That being said, if you want a thicker crust increase the butter, sugar and graham crackers commensurately.
Melt the butter. Mix with the crushed crackers and the sugar. You can do this in a bowl with a fork.
Dump this mixture in the bottom of your 9” springform pan. Use the bottom of a rocks glass to flatten and spread it evenly.
Throw pan in a preheated 325 degree oven. Start checking after ten minutes. You need to pull it out at the exact point that the outer ring starts to harden and turn a clearly darker shade of brown. You can also smell the moment this starts to happen.
Pull pan out and set aside to cool. Set oven for 500 degrees.
While this process was happening you should have been building your filling.
Throw the room temp 1 lb. of Russ and Daughters cream cheese in your Kitchenaid with the paddle attachment. Set on 3 and beat for a minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula continually.
Add 1 1/2 lbs. of softened Philly. Let it beat for two minutes.
Add ¾ cup sugar and salt. Allow time to disperse, approximately one minute. Continue scraping sides and paddle. If clumps form on paddle stop mixer and dislodge.
Add other ¾ cup sugar and allow it to combine, another minute. Scrape bowl.
Add sour cream, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla. Allow beater to process for one minute.
Stop beater. Remove paddle and use spatula to scrape every inch of the bowl and paddle. Need to avoid any clumps of uncombined cream cheese. Get it all in the mixing bowl. By now the mixture should be a fairly thick liquid slurry.
Restart the Kitchenaid and add the eggs and yolks slowly, one by one. Allow the mixture to absorb them. At the end kick the mixer up to 8 for thirty seconds, just to be sure.
Partially melt the remaining butter and brush it on the inside walls of the springform pan as thickly as you are able to.
Pour filling into pan. Place in oven (middle rack).
Bake for ten minutes at 500 degrees.
Without opening oven reduce heat to 200 degrees. Bake for 90 minutes.
Turn oven off, keeping door closed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 10 minutes.
Run knife between edge of cake and pan. Open springform pan and remove. Cover cheesecake with saran wrap and refrigerate.
Wait 24 hours.
Russ and Daughters cream cheese may be difficult if you aren’t a New Yorker. They do ship, so it’s attainable for everyone really (http://www.russanddaughters.com) but time or money may be a factor. If so, I urge you to find the best available artisanal, housemade cream cheese you can. The lack of thickeners made a huge difference in texture.
Full fat sour cream, of course. The freshest and most local available to you. In my case it is Cabot, a fairly large farming conglomerate out of Vermont who make a fresh product, good but not great.
It’s tempting to up the salt content to jack up the flavor. It’s really hard not to. But don’t. This is delicate alchemy here.
No, you don’t need to use Meyer lemons. But Deion didn’t need to dance either. When he did he had earned the right. Use regular lemons if you must. We can’t all be Deion.
Get the best vanilla that you are able to. Some friends of mine make their own; that’s just too Brooklyn for me. But I do think the extra expense of Morton & Bassett is a justifiable expense.
I use Buerremont butter. It was created by Paul Bocuse at a Vermont dairy farm specifically for baking. French method (cultured cream) and 83% butterfat. Plugra also works. Basically use the best unsalted butter with the highest fat content you can get your hands on. That goes for any recipe I ever use, not just this one.
Our Nanny is an incredibly sweet older jamaican woman. She is great with Harper and we are lucky to have her. That being said, she says something unintentionally hilarious at least once a day. Today was a gem.
(remember to read her dialogue in a heavy Jamaican patois)
L: Do you know who acts like Spongebob Squarepants?
Me: (puzzled) Who acts like…you mean the actor who voices the character?
L: Yes, yes, who is that man?
Me: I forget his name but I’m pretty sure it’s the guy who created the series.
L: You ever work with him? I’d like to meet that him.
Apparently Harper was crying in the middle of the night, loud enough to wake E. She nudged me and asked if I had heard it. Half asleep I turned to her and said: “The little ape IS the big ape” then began snoring loudly.
That’s what you get; that’s how it is when you hire scouts who aren’t out of NYC or L.A. For my part, I spent the time and money to learn what the most portable camera with the fastest lens was and acquire it. I’ve learned the unique combination of needs our profession has and have done my best to meet them. I continue keeping up with the marketplace and reinvest to keep my equipment up to date. I also know the simple things, like finding a surface to brace the camera on. Holding your breath when you depress the shutter. The best way to utilize HDR photography, DRO photography, filters and flashes. All else aside, if I don’t get it exactly right I’m going back on my own time and my own dime to get it right. Long story short, I am NOT going to take an assignment and turn in shitty pictures. I’m not going to turn in mediocre pictures. And I damn sure would not turn in blurry pictures.