A lightly sweet, not-too-decadent twist on an old favorite that pairs well with ice cream or fruit.
When I was a kid, I used to think that I hated cream cheese. While I still can’t say that I enjoy eating cream cheese straight, as I’ve explored the world of cooking and baking, I’ve come to love it in many of its greatest hits: the lox & cream cheese bagel, cream cheese frosting, spinach dip, and above all else, cheesecake. There’s something marvelous about the combination of a buttery graham cracker crust and fluffy cream cheese filling that has me craving more. But though I have a definite sweet tooth, I prefer moderately sweet desserts to the saccharine concoctions that you’d get at a certain “factory.” This recipe is a little less sweet, quite a bit smaller (6″ instead of 9″), and adds a welcome twist to the classic cheesecake.
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2/3 cups graham crackers
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 12 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2-3 tbsp roasted/toasted black sesame powder
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 6″ springform pan
- Stand mixer
- Food processor (Optional)
- Baking pan (Optional)
6″ Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Prepare the crumb mixture in one of two ways: Either break into pieces and pulse in a food processor, or place the crackers in a sealed ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin. Whichever method you choose, the resulting mixture should resemble coarse sand. If you’re the type of person whose favorite part of any pie is the crust, feel free to add an extra cracker.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar with a wooden spoon. Grease the sides of a 6″ springform pan with butter or baking spray. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and up along the sides; the crust should go up about halfway.
- Bake for 5 minutes until set, then set aside. Keep the oven at temperature while you make the filling.
Cream Cheese Filling
- Using the whisk attachment, begin beating the cream cheese and the sugar in a stand mixer on medium-low speed (3-4 on a KitchenAid).
- With the mixer running, gradually add the cornstarch, vanilla extract, egg, and heavy cream into the bowl, scraping the sides of the bowl so all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Once the mixture becomes smooth, sprinkle in the black sesame powder.
- Wrap the exterior of the springform with aluminum foil, ensuring the rim between the bottom and sides is fully sealed so water can’t leak inside (nobody likes a watery cheesecake). Place the springform in the center of a large baking pan. Fill the baking pan with hot water to a height of about 2 inches, or halfway up the sides of the springform. The water bath will help the cheesecake heat more evenly and prevent cracking.
- Transfer the cream cheese filling into the springform and even out the top of the mixture with a spatula.
- Place the pans back into the preheated (350F) oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned around the edges and the very center jiggles slightly when the pan is adjusted. Lean on the side of jiggly, since the cheesecake will continue to set even after the oven is turned off.
- Turn the oven off and leave the oven door slightly ajar. Leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool for 3 hours.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Cover the springform with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight.
- When ready to serve, run a knife along the inside edge of the springform pan to release the crust. This will prevent bits from adhering to the sides of the pan. Unbuckle the springform and, using a butter knife, gently release the bottom of the cheesecake from the pan and transfer to a plate. Top with black sesame powder. Slice and serve.
- Easier slicing: For easier slicing, you can run the knife under hot water and wipe it dry before cutting each slice of cheesecake.