It only takes a few simple ingredients to make this dense and decadent cheesecake of which any Philadelphia native would approve!
- 12 honey graham crackers (crackers)
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- cream cheese (2 lbs. brick-style, at room temperature)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 eggs (at room temperature)
- fresh berries (for serving)
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Lightly grease the sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan with softened butter.
- Create four sheets of tin foil approximately 18” long each. Lay one sheet of tinfoil over another to create a cross.
- Make another foil cross with the remaining two sheets of tin foil, and position it at an angle over the first cross, creating a jagged circle.
- Place the spring-form pan in the center of the foil circle. Pull the edges of the foil up the sides of the pan and tightly secure on the top edges of the pan. Pack the foil closely to the circumference of the pan.
- Place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender. Pulse into fine crumbs.
- Add the brown sugar and salt to the graham cracker crumbs. Pulse the mixture a few more times to combine.
- Transfer the graham cracker crumb mixture to a mixing bowl.
- Place the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 45-60 seconds, until melted.
- Pour the melted butter over the graham cracker crumbs. Use a large fork to mix until the crumbs are evenly moistened and hold together when pinched.
- Carefully turn the graham cracker crumb mixture into the spring-form pan.
- Using a tamper or the bottom of a heavy glass, tightly pack the crumbs into the base of the pan, creating an even crust.
- Transfer the spring-form pan to the middle rack of the preheated oven.
- Bake the crust for 9-11 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown.
- Remove the crust from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350° F.
- Place the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically, for 5 minutes, until the mixture is completely smooth and no lumps remain.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Turn the mixer to the lowest speed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing just until no yellow streaks remain. The batter will should be the consistency of yogurt, and ivory in color.
- Pour the batter into the cooled graham cracker crust.
- Lightly tap the spring-form pan on a countertop 4-5 times to release any air bubbles.
- Place the spring-form pan inside a large roasting pan. Carefully fill the roasting pan with water, only until it reaches about ¾” up the sides of the spring-form pan
- Carefully transfer the pan to the middle rack of the preheated oven.
- Bake the cheesecake for 80-95 minutes, taking care to not open the oven door while it bakes. Test that the cheesecake is done by gently shaking the pan. The edges should be firm, and the very center still slightly wobbly.
- Turn off the oven and crack the door open 1-2”. Allow the cheesecake to rest in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and transfer to the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake for a minimum of 6 hours, preferably overnight.
- To unmold the cheesecake, carefully run a butter knife around the inside edges of the pan. Undo the clasp and slowly remove the sides in an upward motion.
- Just before serving, garnish the top of the cheesecake with fresh berries, if desired.