To follow up on our strawberry date, as soon as we got home from picking our fresh berries, I immediately wanted to make a cheesecake. I'd never made one, but I got a spring form pan for Christmas specifically so I could learn. And let's be real, what better time to learn than a weekend after just picking fresh strawberries with the one you love?
Naturally then, I hopped over to Pinterest to see what I could find. After looking through several recipes, I decided to add the word "easy" to my search and found a lovely little recipe from Plain Chicken. (If you've never checked out Plain Chicken, I HIGHLY recommend it. It's packed with tons of great recipes that are clear and easy to follow.) So, when I saw it was from a favorite blog already (and it used fewer ingredients than some of the others I found, I immediately jotted it down and began to bake.
The original recipe is here.
Basically, you'll need to make the crust and cake separately. You could also use a pre-made crust, but I wouldn't recommend it.
1.5 cups of graham cracker crumbs (about half a box). We crushed ours in a big bowl with a wooden spoon. It was hubs' idea and it worked WAY better than me trying to break them all by hand.
5 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup melted butter.
(3) 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened (don't microwave, just let it sit on the counter while you make the crust)
1.5 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated (save the yolk and whites though)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla (original recipe calls for 1, but I really like it, so 2)
Preheat oven to 325.
For the crust, combine all ingredients in a bowl and press against the bottom of a greased 9-inch spring form pan.
For the cake:
Mix cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice, and vanilla. I used a hand mixer and it worked great for this step.
In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until stiff. I added a pinch of extra sugar here to help them stiffen, but you don't have to if you're more patient than me.
Fold the stiffened whites into the cake mix and empty bowl into spring form pan.
(Thanks, hubs for the action shots.)
Once it's put together, bake at 325 for 35 minutes. Then turn the oven off, but leave the door closed and continue baking for an hour.
You'll know the cake is down when the edges look firm, but the middle is still a little wiggly. Take it out, cool it to room temperature on a wire cooling rack and move to the freezer for a couple of hours.
Serve however you like, but I like strawberries and whipped cream.
Just want to say again, although I adapted this recipe and added my own little notes from my baking experience, the original recipe is found over at Plain Chicken. Check her out for real.