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
- 2 pounds brick-style cream cheese (room temperature)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 eggs (room temperature)
- Fresh berries (for serving)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Lightly grease the sides of a 9-inch springform pan with softened butter.
- Cut a circle of parchment paper 9 inches in diameter. Lay the circle on the bottom of the springform pan.
- Create four sheets of aluminum foil each approximately 18 inches long. Lay one sheet of foil over another to create a cross.
- Make another foil cross with the remaining two sheets of aluminum foil, and position it at an angle over the first cross, creating a jagged circle.
- Place the springform 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 sides 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 springform 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.
- Bake the crust for 9-11 minutes on the middle rack of oven.
- Remove the crust from the oven when the edges just begin to brown. 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 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 should be the consistency of yogurt, and ivory in color.
- Pour the batter into the cooled graham cracker crust.
- Lightly tap the springform pan on a countertop 4-5 times to release any air bubbles.
- Place the springform pan inside a large roasting pan. Carefully fill the roasting pan with water, only until it reaches about 3/4 inch up the sides of the springform pan.
- Bake the cheesecake at a reduced temperature to 350°F for 75-90 minutes on the middle rack of oven. Do 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. Add time as needed. Turn off the oven and crack the door open 1-2 inches. 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.
- Slice and serve. Leftover cheesecake may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.