I’ve been baking ever since I was tall enough to reach a spoon into the mixing bowl. And while some of my favorite parts of baking involve experimenting and whipping up new recipes, there’s something extra special about those tried and true family recipes. Growing up with a Grandma who was a great baker means that the taste of pizzelles, Italian wedding cookies, thumbprints, magic cookie bars and warm chocolate chip cookies always just bring great memories with each bite.
When I was invited to participate in the Cake Boss “Love is in the Baking” campaign recently, it was a no brainer that I would be using one of my Grandma’s recipes for that campaign. Because in my mind there’s no better way to show that love is in the baking than with a comforting family recipe. My mom has done a great job at keeping all of my Grandma’s recipes in a recipe book, which I love to look through because the recipe cards are covered in remnants of different recipe ingredients and have a weathered with love look around the edges. I had never baked cheesecake before, but my Grandma had a crustless cheesecake that my mom used to always bake as well, so I decided to try it out myself.
Cheesecake is no easy feat. Especially when you’re making one large one (as opposed to the mini ones I baked for the campaign). My Grandma also wrote her ingredients in ounces and pounds, much different from my normal recipe cards of cups. Which may have led to me accidentally putting four sticks of butter into this recipe instead of the instructed 1/4 pound (1 stick), but a little extra butter never hurt anyone, right?
My Grandma’s recipe was for crustless cheesecake, but I’m a huge proponent of graham cracker crust so I adapted the recipe a bit to add a thin crust to my version. Patience is also a key ingredient to making the perfect cheesecake. You need to let many of the ingredients come to room temperature before incorporating them into the batter, especially for something like the cream cheese which just won’t mix as well if it’s too cold. It takes almost 45 minutes to bake the crust and prepare the cheesecake batter before you put it in the oven to bake.
But probably the hardest part for me was not opening the oven to check on the cheesecake. If you open the oven while the cheesecake is baking or cooling, you risk getting a giant crack down the top. And no one wants a ghetto looking cheesecake after you’ve spent so much time (and money) on whipping up this treat. I think I called my mom at least three times while baking this recipe to make sure that it was okay the cheesecake was looking a little jiggly once I turned the oven off.
Once you bake the cheesecake for an hour, you have to turn the oven off and let it finish setting in the oven for 2 more hours and after that let it chill overnight in the refrigerator. So this is definitely not a quick and easy recipe to make the morning of an event. But man, is it worth the time and effort. Even with my little snafu of adding a bit too much butter, this is by far the creamiest, richest and most delicious cheesecake I’ve ever tasted.
I love canned cherry topping on cheesecake, but for this version I kept it simple with only a little spritz of whipped cream on top. The graham cracker crust adds a nice little crunch and cinnamon flavor to the cheesecake.
The only issue I had with this cheesecake was what to do with it after I finished photographing it for the blog. So I ended up giving a few pieces to my friend who lives next door and then I took the other half of the cheesecake, smashed it all up into a giant bowl and used a cookie scoop to scoop out even-size balls of cheesecake. I put those in the freezer and plan to dip them in chocolate for a future recipe idea!
So if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try your hand at a delicious cheesecake recipe, I definitely recommend following this one from my Grandma, with or without the crust. With cottage cheese, cream cheese, butter and sour cream, you won’t find a creamier cheesecake recipe out there!
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour to cook, 2 hours to cool
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 graham cracker sheets)
- 16 ounces, small curd cottage cheese
- 16 ounces full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, lightly beatean
- 1 stick melted butter, cooled
- 16 ounces heavy sour cream
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and spray the bottom and edges of the pan with nonstick spray, or very lightly grease with Crisco.
- To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar and butter in a mixing bowl until the ingredients are evenly incorporated and the mixture has the texture of sand. Press the crust down evenly in the bottom of the pan, making sure to pack it tightly using your hands or the bottom of a flat measuring cup. Bake at 325 degrees F for 12 minutes, and set aside to cool.
- Melt the stick of butter and set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the cottage cheese and cream cheese. Scrape down the side and bottom of the bowl before adding additional ingredients.
- Add in the sugar and eggs and beat well. Slowly add in the melted butter and sour cream while mixing on a low speed. Mix in the corn starch, flour, lemon juice and vanilla extract until all of the ingredients are incorporated, being careful not to overmix.
- Slowly pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared springform pan. Bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees F. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DURING THIS HOUR. Even as much as you want to peek, according to my Grandma, not opening the oven is critical to preventing cracks in the top of your cheesecake.
- After an hour, shut the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for two hours before removing and putting it in the oven to chill overnight.