I have a
broken unique man-picker. You may have always known that – I was unaware until recently. I push aside Studley Do-Right for jobless, skinny, pasty, white boys. I choose married over available, uninterested over interested, financially unstable over fiscally secure, emotionally distant over communicative, followers over leaders, passive over aggressive, thin and weak over muscular and strong. I don’t consciously do it, but I admit that I do. I’m a smart girl, why can’t I get this right? Conversely, I look at all the failed or struggling marriages around me and wonder just how many women do get it right.
I made this cheesecake for one of those Studleys (at his request) and then flaked on his party and let my coworkers consume it instead. Rather than graham crackers, the crust is made with Nilla wafers. I haven’t made a cheesecake in decades. It’s my nod to the 90’s.
For the crust
2 cups Vanilla wafer crumbs (about 1 box of whole cookies)
¼ cup Sugar
½ cup Unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake
2 lbs. Full fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cups Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1 teaspoon Lemon zest, finely grated
4 Large eggs, room temperature
1 1/3 cups Full fat sour cream
To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan in a double layer of aluminum foil and place the pan on a baking sheet. Find a roasting pan large enough to fit the springform pan. Set the roasting pan to the side.
Stir the crumbs and sugar together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and mix with a fork to distribute well. Turn the ingredients into the springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even. Center a rack in the oven and bake for the crust for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
To make the cheesecake:
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
Using the Kitchenaid® fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. The batter should be well-aerated. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream.
Scrape the batter into the springform pan and put the pan in the roaster. Put the roasting pan in the center of the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be brown. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open. Allow the cheesecake to sit in the water bath for another hour.
After an hour, carefully lift the springform pan out of the roaster and remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack. When the cake is cool, cover the top with plastic wrap and chill the cake for at least 4 hours.