My husband has a thing for cheesecake.  More accurately, I would go so far as to say he is a cheesecake connoisseur.  He has many rules around what constitutes a proper cake: no fruit, no ricotta, no sauces, no flavors except if it's chocolate.  You can imagine how this goes down in my house.  I watch intently, shaking a bit, as he takes the first bite and wait for his pronouncement.  There is, inevitably, always something.  It's lemony! Hmm.  How long did you cook it?  Did you use full-fat cheese?  You get the picture.  I have tried for years to get it right.  Years.  I'm not sure if I can ever please him completely but this particular cheesecake, I think, makes him kind of happy.

This is not a very dense, classically New York-style cheesecake.  It's fairly airy and light in texture but you can tweak it by NOT whipping it for as long as I suggest.


adapted from Tyler Florence

for the crust

2 c finely ground chocolate graham crackers (I use a food processor)

1 stick of butter melted


1 lb cream cheese, softened

3 eggs

1 c sugar

1 pint of sour cream

zest of a small lemon

1 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°

Combine the crumbs and butter together with a fork until it looks like wet sand.

Pour the mixture into an 8" springform pan and carefully flatten with the bottom of a glass. The crust should extend about 1" up the side of the pan. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the cream cheese until there are very few lumps.  Add the eggs and continue to mix.  Add the sugar and beat for another 1-2 minutes.  Add the sour cream, lemon and vanilla and whip for an additional 2-3 minutes on high, making sure to scrape down the sides and checking the bottom center of the bowl for any hiding lumps.

Remove the crust from the fridge and place the pan in the center of two pieces of foil.  Pour the filling into the pan and fold the foil up the sides to prevent water from seeping into the cake while it is baking.

Place the pan in a roasting pan and position it on the center rack in your oven.  At this point, have a kettle full of billing water ready so that you don't lose too much of the oven heat.  Quickly and carefully pour the boiling water into the roasting pan about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Please do this in the oven rather than attempting to cross your kitchen with a pan full of boiling water to splash on you and, inevitably,  into the cake.

Bake for about 1 hour  to 1:15.  The cake should be a bit jiggly when you take it out of the oven.

Let it cool on for counter for about 30 minutes.  Cover it and refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours, the longer the better.