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When cream cheese was invented in New York in 1872, Jewish bakers used it on more than just bagels. It made flakier pastry dough and became a substitute (with sour cream) for cottage cheese previously used in cheesecake. Thus, New York–style cheesecake was born. Cheesecake wows crowds year-round, but is especially welcome for dairy-centric holidays like Hanukkah and Shavuot. This super-creamy version pairs beautifully with fruit. The crust and filling recipes are from The Essential Jewish Cookbook.


For the Crust

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted butter, divided
  • cups crushed graham crackers, from about 10 full crackers
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups sour cream
  • 1 to 2 pounds strawberries, sliced or quartered (optional)

For the Optional Strawberry Glaze

  • cup sugar
  • tablespoons cornstarch
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries, crushed
  • ¼ cup water


To Make the Crust

  • Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325°F. (Do not use convection bake setting). Coat the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter. Line the bottom with parchment paper cut to size and brush with ½ tablespoon of butter.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the graham crackers, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Press evenly into bottom of the springform pan.

To Make the Filling

  • In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on low speed just until smooth. Blend in the cornstarch. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating at low speed until just incorporated, then fold in the vanilla extract, salt, and sour cream.
  • Pour the mixture into the crust and smooth the top. Tap the pan a few times on the counter to release any air bubbles. Place the pan on a sheet pan.
  • Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until the edges are set, but the center 3 inches still wiggle. (An instant-read thermometer should read 155°F when inserted in the center.)
  • Cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate, covered, at least 6 hours and up to 2 days. Remove the springform and serve chilled, garnished with strawberries and glaze (if using).

To Make the Glaze

  • Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small saucepan. Stir in the berries and water. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until thickened and somewhat clarified. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring constantly, 2 more minutes. Strain if desired.


This recipe gets great results without baking the cake in a water bath (placing the pan, well wrapped in aluminum foil, inside a larger pan filled about ½ way with hot water). But if you want an especially creamy cake with less browning, you might want to try a water bath (used for the cake pictured here). Just remember any time you deviate from a written recipe, the baking time might change.