Big and Tall Cheesecake

A close-up of tall cheesecake with a slice cut out

Kitra: It has been well established that we like cheesecake.

Jordan: And this is quite a beautiful specimen, I must say.

Sometimes, you just want an extremely cheesecake cheesecake (sometimes=almost always).

This one is smooth but not heavy, sweet but not cloying, and gloriously tall. This is a cheesecake that shops in the Big and Tall section, hence the title.

Despite the fact that it is an absolute unit, I frequently cut a slice, ate it and then cut another, which is a rarity for cheesecake since a slice often feels like a meal.

I ate almost all of my leftovers for breakfast straight out of the container, standing at the kitchen counter like the lead in a rom-com.

And I was going the breakfast/lunch/dinner/dessert route with mine because I kind of didn’t want to eat anything else.

Some people don’t like making cheesecake because they think it’s fussy, but we promise it’s not that bad. Kitra is the Queen of Cheesecakes and has learned from all of the mistakes so that the rest of us don’t have to.

I mean, if you pick a good and trustworthy recipe and follow it, there shouldn’t be much room for error. But really, just stick an instant thermometer in your cream cheese to make sure it is actually room temperature. (You don’t have to be prepared either, we usually warm it in the microwave.)

That’s my eternal mistake. If your butter is too cold in a cake, it’ll be fine once you beat it up a little. If your cream cheese is too cold, you’re out of luck. Your cheesecake will be lumpy and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Those lumps are the cockroaches of the cake world: they will outlive us all.

Thanks, I hate that analogy.

You’re welcome. All the more incentive to warm that cheese up to a nice 70ish degrees.

You know what I don’t hate, though? This cheesecake. It’s an Erin McDowell recipe and she adds some sour cream, which gives it a little more lightness and nuance.

All hail Erin.

It’s great with macerated fruit, but it’s also completely, 100% perfect on its own.

A cheesecake with a slice removed and resting on a plate, with blackberries on top.

Big and Tall Cheesecake

Adapted slightly from Erin McDowell

Notes

We used an 8-by-4-inch round pan, which is really what makes this big and tall, but you can certainly use a 9-inch pan if that’s what you have. (That’s what the original recipe uses—just make sure you follow the original time in the oven.) You can also adapt the crust to suit your own preferences; we used a classic graham cracker crumb crust and took it all the way up the sides for maximum crust enjoyment.

As we said above, be extra super sure to bring your cream cheese to room temperature (or even a little warmer) before you start.

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 2 pouches (about 10 ounces) graham crackers
  • ½ cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup (67g) sugar

For the filling:

  • 2 pounds (4 blocks, about 900g) cream cheese, very soft
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (23g) flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (115g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°. Wrap the outside of an 8-inch pan with a removable bottom (see note) in foil. Wrap it again (or even a third time!) to make extra sure there will be no leaks.

To make the crust, very finely crush the graham crackers, then stir in the sugar and melted butter until everything is combined. Press the crust firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan and set aside.

Make the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl with a handheld mixer), beat the cream cheese on low for about 3 minutes, until nice and smooth. While the mixer is running, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. (This helps keep the flour from clumping.) Add the sugar mix to the cream cheese and continue beating for another two minutes.

Scrape the bowl, then add the eggs and mix well. Scrape again, add the sour cream, and mix until smooth. Scrape again, add the heavy cream and vanilla, and mix one last time. Do a couple of passes with a rubber spatula to make sure everything is very well combined.

Boil a kettle of water. Once it boils, place the prepared pan into a large baking dish like a casserole or 9×13” pan. Gently pour the filling into the crust, then transfer everything to the oven. Use the kettle to fill the outer pan with boiling water.

Bake for 25 minutes, rotate the pan 180°, and bake another 25 minutes. (Lower these times to 20 minutes each if using a larger pan.) Reduce the oven temperature to 275° and bake until done, checking beginning at 10 minutes. The center of the cake should just lightly jiggle when you shake it but should seem fairly solid—it should be a wobble, not a wave.

Turn the oven off and prop the door open, letting the cake cool inside for 10 minutes. Remove and cool at least one hour at room temperature before unwrapping the foil and putting the cake in the fridge until chilled, an absolute minimum of 3 hours (more if you can). Remove from the pan and serve with your choice of fruit or on its own.

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