From My Kitchen Year: Big New York Cheesecake

December 4, 2015


Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some recipes from My Kitchen Year in this space. They’ll all be foods I like to cook this time of year, dishes that make this season feel like a holiday to me.  This cake for instance: it’s beautiful, it’s easy, it uses ingredients you can buy in the supermarket – and nobody doesn’t like it.

For more about the recipes that saved my life in a particularly difficult winter – and each of the other three seasons – you can visit this page about my book. You can probably buy it there too.

And just for fun, some shots of me and Mikkel from the Winter shoot for the book:

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Big New York Cheesecake


1 package Famous Chocolate Wafers

1½ pounds cream cheese

1 pint sour cream


1 5/8cups sugar


8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter (melted)

4 eggs

2½ teaspoons vanilla

Serves 8 to 10

Cheesecake is about the easiest thing you can possibly bake, a completely foolproof recipe that relies on supermarket staples. Most people adore it: at Gourmet, cheesecake was our most requested recipe. Show up anywhere with one of these and you’ll be welcome.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the crust, crush chocolate wafers until you have about a cup and a half (that will take about 6 ounces of wafers). Mix in a quarter cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, and the melted butter. Using your fingers, pat this mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan, making it even all around. Put the pan into the freezer for 15 minutes (it will keep here, covered, for a couple of months). Bake for 10 minutes, just to crisp the crust. Remove the pan and turn the oven down to 300 degrees.

Beat the cream cheese with a cup of sugar, the eggs, and 1½ teaspoons of vanilla until you have a completely smooth mixture. Pour it into the crust and bake for about 50 minutes, or until the cheese is set on the edges but still a bit wobbly in the middle. Remove the cake from the oven (leave the oven on) and cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, mix the sour cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Spread this mixture evenly over the cooled cake, then return it to the oven for about 12 minutes until the glaze is glossy and set.

Cool completely, then chill for at least 8 hours.

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  • Suzann Halstuch says:

    I love your new book. I love the way you write, your humor and simplicity. I have to return it to the library, but I hope to buy won for myself. Every success to you.

  • Anonymous says:

    Delicious cheesecake, and so simple, too! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Leiann says:

    Hi Ruth-
    What cream cheese do you recommend? I purchased Philadelphia and then read the label and it contains gum.
    Btw- loved Garlic and Sapphires!

    Thanks for your help!

  • shruthi says:

    Hi Ruth,

    I enjoy reading your blog immensely. This cheesecake recipe has been a firm favourite since you wrote about it here, and for someone who used to dream about what a cheesecake tasted like growing up in India, this recipe that I now make as an adult is an ode to both simplicity as well as childhood dreams fulfilled.

    Thank you for writing and sharing.

  • mari says:

    I have a very similar recipe except it uses an almond crust and almond essence instead of vanilla. I find vanilla and cheese a bit of an odd combination (but I’m sure that’s just me).

  • Ruth: in your cookbook, My Kitchen Year, this recipe calls for 1 3/8 cup of sugar. Above, the recipe calls for 1 5/8 cup of sugar. Which one is correct?

  • Linden Berry says:

    This was a wonderful solution for a dessert for eight ( real Bay Areacfoodies0 and Ruth Reichl fans! I had to use Sandies as the crust because none of our five local grocery stores carries Nilo chocolate wafers.I topPed it with more pecans after adding the glaze.

    Thank you, Ruth.