The secret to great cheesecake is patience. The actual preparation of the filling is straight forward and simple. The secret is to let the cream cheese change temperatures very slowly. First you need to let it rest on the counter to come up to room temperature before you start. Once baked, the cheesecake should be cooled in several stages, first in the oven, then on the counter, and finally in the fridge. As a result, this dessert is best made one or two days in advance and allowed to sit in the fridge until you're ready to serve it.
Prep: 30 min Chill: 6 hours or more Cook: 45 min Total: 1 hour active + Overnight Serves 12
Four Hours Prior to Starting
24 ounces cream cheese (3 8-ounce packages)
Open the cream cheese packages and dump into a large bowl. Place bowl and eggs on counter to rise to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan.
16 graham crackers (about ⅔ box)
Break graham crackers into medium sized pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse for 15 seconds until they are fine crumbs, approximately 2 cups worth. Place crumbs in a small bowl.
5 tablespoons butter, melted
Mix butter with graham cracker crumbs and stir until combined and crumbs are moist. Press mixture into the bottom and halfway up the sides of prepared springform pan.
Parbake crust at 350°F for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
reserved cream cheese
1 cup sugar
Add sugar to large bowl with room temperature cream cheese. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on medium speed until sugar has just fully combined and cream cheese is smooth but not fluffy.
½ cup key lime juice (fresh squeezed or from store)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Add key lime juice and vanilla to cream cheese mixture and beat until combined.
Add one of the reserved eggs and beat until just combined. Scrap down sides of bowl and repeat with remaining eggs one at a time.
2 tablespoons sour cream
Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in sour cream.
Place a towel under the bowl and then raise bowl about four inches above the counter. Drop bowl onto the towel a dozen times (or more) to force air bubbles that might be in the filling to rise to the surface. This increases the density of the cheesecake.
Assembly and Baking
Gently pour filling into prepared springform pan with parbaked crust. Smooth top with a spatula.
Rip off several sheets of aluminum foil. Place your pan on the center of the sheets and fold them up along the sides, but not over the top, of the springform pan to create a watertight jacket.
Place foil-wrapped springform pan inside of a large baking dish or oven-safe bowl. Fill outer pan halfway up with water, taking care not to get cheesecake wet. The water ensures even cooking and prevents the cheesecake from cracking.
Gently place dish in oven and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, turn off oven and prop open oven door slightly. Do not remove cheesecake from the oven. Let cheesecake sit in the partially open oven, undisturbed for 30 minutes to allow it to gradually cool.
Remove from oven and let springform pan cool on a wire rack until completely cool, at least 1 hour.
Once cheesecake has reach room temperature, continue cooling process by placing cheesecake in the fridge and allow to chill for at least several hours, if not overnight. The flavor and texture improves with time.
When completely chilled, run a thin knife around the outer edge of the springform pan to separate cake from pan. Open the springform pan's release. Placing one hand underneath, gently slide the pan off the edge of the counter so that you hand is on the bottom. Remove outer ring of pan by pushing cake up through ring.
1 key lime, sliced very thin (optional)
whipped cream (optional)
Slice into pieces and garnish with thin slices of key lime, if desired. Top with whipped cream.
Licensed from https://www.makebetterfood.com/recipes/key-lime-cheesecake/