I LOVE cheesecake. So much so that it’s been my birthday cake for the past 11 years! It started out with my best friend making me a Cherry No-Bake Cheesecake for my 20th birthday, and it’s a tradition that stuck because I love it so much. Over the years it’s evolved into real cheesecake, but there is still usually cherry in it somewhere.
After cherry cheesecake, I would have to say that this is my favorite cheesecake. I came up with the idea to make this the cheesecake of the week at my work, and I’ve made it a couple times since, for private parties and such. It always goes over well! Who doesn’t love the age-old combination of salty and sweet?!
The cheesecake base is just a very simple recipe, as it should always be. I don’t know what the deal is with some recipes calling for you to add flour and a bunch of other stuff, but it’s really not necessary. The graham cracker crust is also pretty straight-forward, except that I don’t always add sugar to mine. I’ve never actually measured how much of those ingredients I use, but I would guess the measurements I listed are accurate. I don’t like an overly dry nor an overly greasy crust, so I only mix enough butter until it just holds together when you press it with your fingers. The caramel sauce is also very basic, but quite delicious. When you put everything together, and then top it with the Fleur de Sel, which you HAVE to use, it’s so amazing! I like to put a little of the caramel sauce on top of the cheesecake and set it back in the refrigerator to cool on top of the cheesecake, saving the rest to drizzle on top, but either way is just fine.
My favorite part about this cheesecake recipe is that the base is so perfect you don’t need to mess with it very much. If you want to have fruit in it, simply warm some berries with a little sugar and lemon juice until they’re softened, then puree the berries and swirl them into the cheesecake. If you simply want it to be another flavor, add that flavor to the already-made batter. I’ve made so many delicious variations from this one base recipe, I can’t even remember all of them… And they always turn out wonderful!
3 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Graham Cracker Crust:
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
6-8 Tbsp. butter, melted
10 Tbsp. butter
⅔ c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
⅔ c. heavy cream
3 tsp. vanilla extract
Fleur de Sel
For the cheesecake: In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and cream cheese together until well combined. Slowly mix in the eggs and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Allow the cheesecake batter to sit overnight. (Mix in any flavorings before leaving it to sit overnight, making sure that any additions are also room temperature before being added.)
Preheat the oven to 325°. Prepare the graham cracker crust by mixing graham cracker crumbs and butter until just moistened; gently press the mixture into the bottom and partly up the sides of an assembled springform pan. Pour the cheesecake batter over the graham cracker crust.
Place the filled springform pan into a large pan and fill the outside pan halfway with water. Place the pan into the preheated oven and bake until the cheesecake is almost set in the middle, about an hour and a half. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it continue to sit in the water bath for about a half hour. Remove the springform pan from the water bath and place in the refrigerator to continue cooling.
For the caramel topping: Place the butter, brown sugar, and heavy cream in a medium saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves; increase heat to medium and bring to a boil, allowing the mixture to boil for a couple minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Cool slightly and spoon over the cooled cheesecake. Sprinkle the cheesecake with fleur de sel just before serving.