The whole reason I learned how to make cheesecake is because my step-dad LOVES it. In fact, Bob likes it so much that it was the one thing that he consistently wanted for his birthday. Now I am very sad to say that growing up he never really got a cheesecake. He got the Jell-o No Bake Cheesecake with the cherry topping. I remember when we lived in Vista, California my three sisters and I would walk down the hill from our apartment to the nearest Albertson’s to pick up the cheesecake. We’d get home and make every effort not to screw it up as we had to like add butter to the real HoneyMaid graham cracker crumbs and then add milk to the real cheesecake filling to whip up in only fifteen minutes what was a real cheesecake dessert (as promised on the front of the box.) Some birthdays we decorated the top with the pretty cherry filling, and other birthdays we left the filling off so people could only put it on their piece if they actually wanted it. We knew that Bob’s ultimate cheesecake was the New York Cheesecake. So you know, all we had to do was leave off the cherry topping and voila! New York Cheesecake. LOL 🙂 Like I said, a little bit sad. Every single July Bob would act surprised after dinner when we would bring out his “birthday cake” and he would “Mmmm” with every bite making sure to thank us for our hard work. All 15 minutes of it. I mean, you gotta love a guy for this story alone. He liked NEW YORK CHEESECAKE and we never failed to bring him a poor substitute and he never complained. Oh man. Well okay let’s fast forward from agonizing kitchen catastrophes and get to the happy present.
After I got married and my husband knocked me up (yup all his fault) I had to go on bed rest. It’s hard to believe but eventually I got tired of reading every day, all day and I started watching cooking shows. Thus the birth of a new hobby (don’t worry I eventually gave birth to a healthy baby boy too; whose mom now knew a bit more about cooking.) My first cheesecake had to be New York style and I took it home to Bob who couldn’t believe that I had figured out that cheesecake doesn’t take 15 minutes and isn’t found in a box. The first time I used a water bath method to prevent cracking (which was disastrous), but I later found out that if you just cook your cheesecake low and slow and then let it come to room temperature in the oven you don’t have to worry about mopping up a swimming pool in your kitchen or biting into a mushy crust. My advice is don’t plan on making a cheesecake and having it for dessert that night. Make it the day before so you have time to let it cook and cool. It’ll be worth the wait. Since that first cheesecake my family’s favorites are banana cheesecake, lemon-raspberry cheesecake, and cinnabon cheesecake. I like pumpkin cheesecake. Sound good? Stay tuned. Hahaha And you know what? Bob has decided he likes some of them almost as much as New York Cheesecake.
For the crust
- 2 packages of graham crackers (about 18 if you aren’t using HoneyMaid)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup of melted butter (one stick)
For the filling
- 3 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese room temperature (or just unwrap and nuke ’em for about thirty seconds in the microwave
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch
- 3 eggs
- 3 large ripened bananas mashed (brown is good)
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- fresh sliced banana
- whipped topping (we are lovers of all things: homemade whipped cream, fast and furious canned whipped cream & even Cool Whip so you know, pick your pleasure based on how many dishes you want to clean up and how much time you have.)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter a 9 inch springform pan. (I usually use the same stick I’m going to melt, before it’s melted of course. And you can use a 10 inch pan as well, there’s certainly enough of everything just be sure to adjust the baking time as needed. In my experience the 10 inch shortens baking time 20 minutes.)
- In a food processor blend graham crackers, sugar and melted butter. Press this into the bottom and about half-way up the sides of your pan. Put this in the refrigerator while you’re working on the filling.
- In a large bowl beat cream cheese until sooth. Then add sugar and cornstarch and continue until blended. Add eggs one at a time making sure they are well incorporated. Finally add mashed bananas, milk, and vanilla and beat until combined.
- Pour the filling into your graham cracker crust.
- Fill a 9×17 inch dish with water and set this in your oven alongside the cheesecake. This will take the place of a water bath and help prevent cracking.
- Put the springform pan on a cookie sheet and bake for fifteen minutes. (Set your timer!) While you’re waiting that fifteen minutes it’s a good idea to lick the bowl clean before you wash it and give your kids the beaters. At the Plunkett house we are not afraid of salmonella poisoning or at least we are willing to brave it rather than passing up raw baked goods…wait a minute that can’t be right…
- Reduce the temperature to 250 degrees and continue to cook it 60-90 minutes. This really depends on your oven. If you watch it about every ten minutes after 60 minutes you want the center to be slightly jiggly while the rest is set. Turn off your oven, bring the cheesecake out to loosen the edges and then put it back so it can come to room temperature in the oven. (This helps prevent it from cracking.) I’ve left mine in the oven overnight because it does take a few hours. Transfer your cheesecake to the fridge where it should stay for 6-8 hours or overnight.
- Top with bananas and whipped cream and congratulate yourself for time well spent in the kitchen!