Diana's Desserts - www.dianasdesserts.com

Classic Baked Cheesecake

Servings: 10-12
Although this cheesecake is baked it is easy to make and will please just about anyone's taste. The recipe is very basic and can be enjoyed anytime of the year. Great for a party or serve your family this very delectable dessert as a special treat any night of the week. Especially good served with fresh fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, sliced peaches or serve plain with just a dusting of confectioners' sugar.

2 cups (approxiamtely 250 grams) finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz./113g) unsalted butter, melted

2 (8 oz./453g) packages cream cheese, at room temperature (16 ounces total)
1 cup granulated or superfine baker's sugar
Juice from 1/2 lemon, strained
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup (4 oz./125ml) heavy cream

Garnish: (optional)
Confectioners' sugar
Fresh berries (such as strawberries or blueberries)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20cm) springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.

To Make the Crust:
In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20cm) springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon the graham cracker mixture into the prepared springform pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Chill crust in refrigerator until ready to fill.

To Make the Filling:
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute, until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined, then beat in cream. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the strained lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Beat until well combined and the mixture is light and fluffy (the batter should be well combined but not overmixed).

Using clean electric beaters or a balloon whisk, whisk the egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Using a large metal spoon, fold beaten egg whites into cream cheese mixture until just combined.

Pour the mixture into the chilled crust. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until just set in the center. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours to overnight to set. Remove 30 minutes before serving. Dust top of cheesecake with confectioners' sugar and garnish with fresh berries, if deisred. Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry after each cut.

Makes 10-12 servings.

Date: August 6, 2006