I learned the basic recipe for this great cheesecake–one which I am forced to make and bring to every family function–from the late Lonnie Knisley. One of the best pastry chefs who ever worked in New Orleans, he made all the desserts at Andrea’s for years. The orange aspect is my wrinkle on it; I have a personal passion for that flavor, and I think it’s especially good in this.
The most time-consuming part of making a cheesecake is cooling it. This must be done slowly and gently, or you’ll have cracks in the top.
- 2 packages (out of the standard three in the standard box)
- cinnamon graham crackers
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 pint whipping cream
- 1 Tbs. vanilla
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- Zest (grated peel) of one orange
1. Put the cream cheese and the sugar into the bowl of a mixer and blend on medium-slow speed until completely blended and fluffy–about 10 minutes.
2. While that’s going on, make the crust. Grind the graham crackers into small crumbs in a food processor. Add the sugar and the butter and process until the butter has soaked all the crumbs.
3. Line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Dump the crust mixture in and press a wedge of crumbs into the bottom corner all the way around. Then make a bottom crust, and finally press the remaining crumbs up the sides of the pan. It is not necessary for the crust to come all the way to the top of the pan. Set aside.
4. Add the sour cream to the mixer bowl. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl after this and each other ingredient addition throughout the recipe.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing them to blend in completely before adding the next one. (Break each egg into a cup first to make sure it’s okay before you add it.)
6. Add the cream, the vanilla, the juices, and the zest. Mix for another five minutes or so.
7. Pour the filling into the crust. Place the springform pan in a shallow pan (i.e., a pizza pan), and place it in the center of the oven at 275 degrees (no convection). Pour warm water into the bottom pan. Bake for 90 minutes, until you see the cheesecake has just a hint of browning on top.
8. Turn the oven off, but leave the cheesecake inside. After an hour, open the door a crack and let the cheesecake cool in the oven another half-hour. Remove the cheesecake and let it finish cooling on a counter. After another hour, remove the sides of the springform pan and put the cheesecake into the refrigerator. Chill at least three hours before serving.
Makes one ten-inch cheesecake; serves twelve to sixteen.