1 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted), plus 1 teaspoon cold
¼ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 and ½ cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs (room temperature) 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
(Preheat oven to 350 degrees F)
Using heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap the outside of a 9 inch springform pan with 2 ¼-inch-high sides, making sure the foil does not overlap the top of the pan. Lightly butter the inside of the pan with the cold butter. With a fork, combine the crumbs and brown sugar, and then completely mix in the melted butter. Press the mixture over the bottom of the pan and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
Beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer until fluffy. Continue beating while slowly adding the granulated sugar, beating until very smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure all of the cream cheese / sugar mixture is of like consistency. Add eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to completely combine before adding the next egg. Add the vanilla extract, then the lemon juice and continue to mix for a minimum of ten minutes.
Pour the filling into the refrigerated crust and place the pan in a bain marie. Bake until the cake rises approximately ½ inch above the sides of the springform pan and the center only moves slightly when gently shaken – about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes. (Top will be golden brown).
Remove and let cool on a rack, removing foil after cake begins to settle. Once at room temperature, cover and refrigerate for at least four hours. Using a small knife, cut around the side of the pan to release the cake, then release the pan sides.
Filling variations include the addition of ¼ cup of Amaretto, Chambord, or other favorite liqueurs. (I’ve added dark rum along with ½ cup of shredded sweetened coconut).
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream (40 % minimum butterfat)
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter (cut into small pieces at room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using a heavy saucepan, heat the water and sugar over low heat, constantly stirring until the sugar dissolves. Slowly increase the heat and boil without stirring to achieve a golden color – using a pastry brush dipped in cold water to occasionally wash down the sides of the pan – about 7 – 8 minutes. Once desired color is achieved, immediately reduce the heat to very low. Add the heavy cream (mixture will bubble up) and stir until very smooth. Mix in the butter, one piece at a time and allow cooling for five minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Sauce will thicken considerably when refrigerated – best served closer to room temperature.
Drizzle sauce on a cold dessert plate; add a slice of cheesecake, a bit more sauce and a few fresh berries, (a dollop of whipped cream ain't bad either).