If your partner or a person of interest likes cheesecake, making this easy, award-winning cheesecake will increase your chances of getting laid exponentially. Award winning? I entered this cheesecake in the Oregon State Fair and it won a Blue Ribbon and Best of Division! Easy to make? It takes me about fifteen minutes of actual preparation time. That’s 15 minutes, not 50. Impossible to mess up? I’ve now made this cheesecake more than twenty times, and people raved about each and every one.
I’m going into a lot of detail in this post, but please don’t let that discourage or stress you. Once you have made this a couple of times, you’ll be able to do it in your sleep, even if you’ve never baked a thing in your life.
While you can make this in a regular oven, one of the keys to consistently turning out an outstanding cheese cake is to bake it in a cheapo slow cooker. You put the batter in a 6-inch spring-form pan and cook it in a slow cooker that’s got ½ of water in it. Because of the steam in the slow cooker, the top of this cheesecake doesn’t crack.
Who knew that a slow cooker with a ½- inch of water on the bottom would provide the perfect environment to bake a cheesecake?
After trying several cheesecake recipes, I settled on this one from America’s Test Kitchen. They outdid themselves with this Rich and Creamy Cheesecake recipe from their Complete Slow Cooker cookbook, although I add ⅓ cup sour cream instead of ¼ cup (see below).
Devices and Utensils You Will Need
- A 6” diameter springform pan (see below about the 6″ Wilton Springform pan)
- A slow cooker wide enough to fit a 6” diameter springform pan (I explain more about the slowcooker options below)
- A food processor (The one I use cost less than $50, so don’t think you need to pay hundreds for some over-priced big name food processor.)
- An instant read digital thermometer (I use this Fubosi for almost everything I cook, less than $20.)
- A spatula
- About 3 feet of aluminum foil scrunched into a coiled snake to make a base that the springform pan can sit on. This will raise the cheesecake about an inch from the bottom of the slow cooker floor which should have at least a half-inch of water in it.
- THE CRUST
- 6 whole graham crackers broken into pieces, or you can make it without a graham cracker crust.
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled (salted butter will work just fine)
- ⅔ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- THE INSIDES
- 18 ounces of cream cheese. (Philadelphia Brand is consistently good, but any brand works okay. So it’s no problem to get whatever is on sale.) Room temperature is probably better, but I often make it fresh from the fridge. Since cream cheese comes in 8 oz, 18 ounces of cream cheese is 2 full packages and 2 oz of a third package. So be sure to get 3 packages, although I have forgotten to add the extra 2 oz of cream cheese and it turned out just fine.
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions for the Crust
1. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor, making the crumbs fine (about 20 or more pulses)
2. Add the melted butter, 1 tablespoon sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt if your butter is unsalted. Pulse about 4 to 8 times to mix it all together.
3. Sprinkle the crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan and press into an even layer using the bottom of a glass, cup or if you are like me, just use your fingers. Try to make the edge look neat and even.
Springform Pan Bottom Notes: I’ve started spraying the bottom of the springform pan with Baker’s Joy baking spray before putting in the graham cracker crust. This seems to make it a little easier to separate the crust once the cheesecake is done, and it seems to help if you opt to do the cheesecake without a crust.
Also, it’s easy to get confused about the bottom of the springform pan–whether you set it inside with the outside ring facing up or down. I’ve stopped stressing over it, because it works both ways, but I have found the cheesecake is easier to cut and remove if I put the bottom in so it rises upward.
Directions for the Filling
1. Clean out the graham cracker crumbs from the food processor. Otherwise, they will ruin the texture of the cheesecake.
2. Put the cream cheese, vanilla, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅔ cup sugar in the empty food processor. Turn it on for about 15 seconds or more until everything is combined. Pause and scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
3. Add the sour cream and the eggs, and process for about 15 seconds—not much more than that, although I sometimes get obsessive and go for longer.
4. Pour the cream cheese filling into the springform pan on top of the graham cracker crust. Smooth out the top.
5. Fill the bottom of the slow cooker with ½ inch of water.
6. Place the scrunched up aluminum foil snake-like circle on the bottom of the slow cooker; make sure it’s taller than the water or the water will soak into the bottom of the springform pan and turn your cheesecake into a gooey mess.
7. Cover and turn the slow cooker on high. It should look somewhat like this, only with the glass lid all steamed up.
8. Cook on high for 1 ½ to 2 hours—until the cheesecake registers approximately 150 degrees on an instant thermometer that you stick in the center of it. You’ll find the temperate will be all over the place depending on how deep you stick the thermomenter in the cheesecake. I try to make sure the lowest temp is 150.
There was one time when I didn’t hear the timer go off and the internal temperature of the cheesecake got up to 180 degrees instead of the desired 150. It tasted fine, but was a bit tough. (My First Place/Best of Division entry in the Oregon State Fair got up to 162 degrees, so there’s plenty of wiggle room. But 180 was definitely too high.)
9. Turn off the slow cooker once the cake is 150 degrees on the inside but do not remove the cheesecake. Put the cover back on the slow cooker and let the cheesecake sit in the steamy slow cooker for another hour. This way it will continue to gently cook in a steamy environment.
10. Take the cheesecake from the slow cooker and put it on a wire rack. Run a small knife around the edge of the cake, but do not yet remove it from the pan.
11. Let it cool in the pan to room temperature, or about an hour. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours.
12. Before serving, run a small knife around the edge of the pan once again. Then undo the latch on the side of the springboard pan, and remove it.
Water Under the Slow Cooker Lid
The slow cooker lid collects a lot of condensation, as in little drops of water. When you are removing the lid, these might dump water onto the top of the cheesecake. So be sure to tip the lid to one side before removing it, and dry the bottom of the lid before putting it back on the crock pot after you’ve checked the cheesecake’s temperature. (It certainly won’t harm the cheesecake if you get drips of water from the lid on it. You can always try to carefully sop up the water drops on the surface of the cheesecake with the edge of a paper towel.) I now put paper towels under the lid when I start the bake to catch the water drops.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, food processor, springform pan, and digital food thermometer, you’ll be out around $100 for the entire set up. At some stages of your life, you won’t think twice about spending $100, but at other times, it can be a stretch. So I try to list low cost options when possible.
As for benefits you’ll be reaping over the long haul: if your partner or person of interest loves cheesecake as must as most normal humans do, and you can easily make one or two a month, that’s a lot of extra sex for a small investment of approximately $100 USK. Here’s the details on the equipment.
My Slowcooker of Choice for This Cheesecake
You can probably make this cheesecake in an oven, but I’ve never done that because using a slow cooker works perfectly.
You will need a slowcooker that fits a 6” springform pan which is actually 6.5 inches in diameter. I have a dedicated 5-quart round Crock Pot that I use for cheesecake. I got it on sale at Kroeger/Fred Myers for less than $20.
I measured our 7-quart oval Crock Pot, and it’s wide enough to fit the 6” springform pan, although its 8-quart brother for $30 gets exceptional reviews. (As long as you’re going with a 7-quart slow cooker, why not get an 8?)
I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $30 for a slow cooker except for the seriously pricey Cuisinart catastrophe my wife wanted for Christmas a few years ago. Each of my low-end slow cookers tops that Cuisinart catastrophe whose teflon insert started peeling the third time we used it. And the controls on the Cuisinart slow cooker were so confusing I could not figure them out. For me, all the options I need are warm, medium and high.
So unless you’ve got money to burn, keep an eye out for slow cooker closeouts at Walmart and Crock Pot sales at places like Fred Myers (our version of Kroeger here in the Pacific Northwest). Also look out for coupons that will give you an additional 15% off of appliances. After-Christmas sales are even better.
The 6” Wilton Springform Pan To Cook Your Cheesecake In
I was able to find this at Amazon, Michael’s and Fred Myers. It’s a nice pan and if you like cheesecake, you’ll get lots of use out of it. If money is tight and you can find it at Michael’s, sign up to receive their coupons ahead of time. Your inbox will be spammed daily, but Michael’s will usually include a 40% or 50% off coupon for one regular priced item.
Cheapo Food Processors Work Just Fine!
When one of our livestock guard dogs was diagnosed with myasthenia graves (essentially Lew Gherig’s disease but localized to the throat), I had to find a way to effectively turn hard dog kibble into powder so I could feed him dog food soup. This wouldn’t have been problem if he had been a Chiweenie or Teacup Poodle, but Lucca was 140 pounds and that was a shitload of dry dog food to pulverize every day. For more than 3 years, I used an inexpensive Hamilton Beach food processor from Walmart to do the job, and it outlasted poor Lucca. I still use it today to make cheesecake.
I don’t know how much more abuse you can throw at a food processor than I threw at this one, and it performed without a single hiccup for more than 3 years. I also used it to make the winning cheesecake at the Oregon State Fair, so there are good reasons why it has more 5 star reviews than any of the other Hamilton Beach food processors. It’s usually cheaper at Walmart.com than Amazon.
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