This Cheesecake is the very first thing I taught my daughter Arianna to bake. She now makes this cheesecake better than I do! Arianna gave me a couple of hints on how to make sure it turns out super creamy and smooth, one being NOT to over mix, as it causes the cheesecake to look like a crater and forms cracks after it's bakes. (Who knew?) She loved baking so much that we ended up taking a professional baking course together. It's a wonderful bonding experience. Doing things together in the kitchen reminds me of times that I spent with my own mom and grandmother and that's a great feeling. I suggested to Arianna that we should add fresh fruit on top. She LOVES raspberries so we placed them on top of the cheesecake and poured over a raspberry coulis.


(makes 10 to 12 servings)

Graham cracker crust
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 pints fresh raspberries or strawberries; if using strawberries, slice in half and lay flat on top of cake.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

To make the crust, in a medium-size bowl stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and butter until moistened. Using your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of a 10-inch by 3-inch springform pan. Bake for 15 minutes, and cool completely.

To make the filling, in a mixer using the paddle attachments, mix the cream cheese for two minutes, stopping twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add 1 cup of sugar in an even stream, and mix for 2 more minutes, until light and fluffy. Remember to stop at least twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, processing after each addition to incorporate thoroughly, and scrape down the bowl each time. Add the 1/2 cup of sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Process until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour the filling into the crust, and spread evenly in the pan. Lift the pan and tap it on the counter several times to release any bubbles in the batter. Bake for 1 hour, or until the top is set. Use a toothpick; if it comes out clean, the cake is done. If it still wiggles in the middle, you need to bake it more. Do not overbake.

While the cheesecake is baking, combine the 1 1/4 cups sour cream and 3 tablespoons sugar. Spread this mixture over the cheesecake immediately after removing it from the oven. Return the cake to the oven for 5 minutes to set. Cool completely on a wire rack, then cover with aluminum foil and freeze overnight.

Take the cheesecake out of freezer the morning you are going to serve it. After 1 hour, release and remove the pan sides. Top with berries and serve.

This recipe is featured in Cristina's new cookbook, Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love.
Click here to get the book!

Photo reprinted with permission from Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love copyright 2011 by Cristina Ferrare, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Todd Porter and Diane Cu.