I've decided to take a break from Guyanese recipes to share with you a delicious cheesecake that I have been making for years. A recipe that was consistently used to bribe my good (tech) friend Jeff to help me out with any blog issues I needed assistance with. I've made it for his birthday, as a thank you gift, and even sometimes as a warning to say, "heads up: next week I'll need you to write some code for the blog." It worked every time; sweets usually do that to men. To this day, it is so hard to make this cheesecake without it reminding me of my cunning and mischievous ways (insert evil laugh here).
This cheesecake has also been a hit at our family gatherings, especially during the holidays when we would all congregate after dinner for a dessert coma. It's rich and decadent, just like a cheesecake should be, but what puts this cheesecake over the top is the occasional, and rather pleasant, burst of pineapple in your mouth as you take even the smallest bite. The batter is made with seven simple ingredients: cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and flour. When combined, and in the right measurements, these ingredients will give you a perfectly tasting cheesecake; mildly tangy and sweet, with a silky smooth texture. This cheesecake is even delicious plain and served with fresh fruit. It is also quite versatile in that the batter holds up nicely to heavy additions like crushed pineapple, dulce de leche swirls, or even Oreo cookie pieces. It is really quick to whip up and if you are using a store-bought crust, which I use most times, then this will really be a breeze to make.
What makes a good cheesecake?
- 1 ½ cups crushed graham cracker
- 6 tbsp melted butter
- 4 tbsp white granulated sugar
- Dash of cinnamon
- 2 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup plus 3 tbsp white granulated sugar
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp lemon or orange zest
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 8oz crushed pineapple, drained and squeezed
- Cool Whip topping, thawed
- Coconut flakes, toasted
- Bring eggs and cream cheese to room temperature while you make the crust.
- Mix graham cracker, sugars, and cinnamon together. Add melted butter, stir to combine.
- Press graham cracker mixture into an 8-inch springform pan. Use a round glass to press graham cracker into and around the side of the pan.
- Bake crust for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees until edges are golden brown, crust will begin to smell fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Toast coconut in a non-stick pan on low heat until flakes are light brown, set aside. Drain and squeeze pineapple, set aside.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Place a shallow pan filled halfway with water in the oven to help create moisture, this will help to keep cheesecake from drying out while baking.
- Cream sugar and cream cheese until smooth and no lumps remain. Add sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, blend to incorporate.
- Add eggs, blend on low speed, add flour.
- Fold pineapple into cream cheese mixture. Pour filling into crust, bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.
- Center of cheesecake should jiggle slightly when shaken. Turn heat off and leave cheesecake to rest for about 10 minutes in oven. Remove from oven and leave cheesecake to rest for an additional 30-40 minutes to cool slowly. Place in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or overnight.
- Top with cool whip or desired topping, sprinkle toasted coconut on top.
A 9-inch springform pan may be used, but will yield a thinner cheesecake.
If using store-bought crust, be sure to buy the one that says, "2 extra servings" otherwise, you will have left over batter.
Cheesecakes have a tendency to shrink and sink in the middle when cooling, so you will want to use a knife to run along the outside of the crust immediately after the cheesecake is done. Otherwise as it cools, the outer part of the cheesecake will stick to the pan leaving a circular crack in the center. This only applies if you are using a springform pan. As you can see, I missed this step, but its nothing that a little cool whip can't cover up.