New York-style cheesecake is our hands-down favorite. Here's how to make it.
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Of all the different cheesecakes we’ve made over the years, our hands-down favorite is New York–style. (Think Junior’s, in Brooklyn, and you’re in the right ballpark.) It’s creamy and dense but not at all heavy. Our latest, ultra-deep-dish version has sour cream for extra flavor and lift. We used brown sugar in place of granulated in the trademark graham-cracker-crumb crust, pressing it partway up the sides of the pan for more crumbly goodness in every bite.
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Finely grind crackers in a food processor. Add melted butter, brown sugar, zest, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; pulse until texture is like wet sand. Press evenly into bottom and halfway up sides of a buttered 9-inch springform pan. Bake until set, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
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Reduce temperature to 325 degrees. Beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in granulated sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in lemon juice and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then sour cream and vanilla until smooth.
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Wrap Pan in Foil
Place pan in center of a double layer of foil. Lift edges of foil up, wrapping it tightly around sides of pan and folding it in under itself as necessary until flush with top of pan. (This prevents water from seeping in.)
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Pour filling into pan (it should come right to top of rim) and smooth top with a small offset spatula.
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Bake in Water Bath
Place springform pan in a roasting pan; transfer to oven. Pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until cake is puffed and golden brown on top and slightly wobbly in center, 1 hour, 45 minutes to 2 hours.
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Chill and Unmold
Remove springform pan from roasting pan; let cool on a wire rack 20 minutes. Remove foil and run a paring knife around sides of pan to loosen. Let cool completely. Drape pan with plastic wrap; refrigerate until cold, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. Remove cake from pan; serve.
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When assembling springform pan, invert bottom so raised lip faces down; this enables you to slide cake onto a serving plate and makes slicing easier. To unmold cake, release and lift sides of pan to remove, then run an offset spatula between bottom of pan and crust.