Is Philadelphia cream cheese what makes a New York cheesecake so distinctive and unique? Yes, and no. Iconic New York foods like Cheesecake and Bagels and Lox with a Smear are incomplete without cream cheese, preferably Philadelphia brand. There’s one catch, though, it’s not from Philadelphia.
The first cream cheese in America was introduced in 1872 by a New York dairyman named William Lawrence. Lawrence’s company marketed their cream cheese with the name Star Brand. Slow sales in 1880 led to the brand name being changed from “Star Brand” to “Philadelphia”. Sales took off. At the time, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was known for featuring high-quality food, particularly dairy products, at the same time that cream cheese was gaining popularity. Using this to their advantage, the company decided to rename their main product to imply the cream cheese was of highest quality.
New York Cheesecake
- Food processor
- Stand Mixer with paddle attachment
- 9-inch springform pan
Graham Cracker Crust
- 10 oz Graham crackers (18 to 20 crackers)
- ⅓ cup Light brown sugar
- ¾ cup Unsalted butter, melted (1½ sticks)
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp Ground cinnamon
- 2 lb Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature (four 8 oz packages)
- 1 cup Sour cream
- 1 cup White sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 tsp Lemon extract
- ¼ cup All-purpose flour
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- 5 large Eggs
Make Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C) and melt butter in the microwave. In a food processor, combine graham crackers, brown sugar, ½ tsp salt, and cinnamon. Process into fine crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a large bowl and then add melted butter. Using your hands, mix well until no dry spots remain. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Press crust evenly over the bottom of the pan and 1½-inches up the sides. Using the bottom of a glass cup, compress the crumbs further and make sure the bottom is even. Bake until the crust is set and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pan and set aside while you make the filling. Reduce heat to 300°F (150°C).
Prepare Cheesecake Filling
- Combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla and lemon extracts, and ½ tsp salt in a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on high until mixture becomes completely smooth, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and incorporate eggs 1 at a time. Scrape down sides after each egg. Turn speed to low and slowly add flour and beat until just blended and no lumps remain.
Bake and Chill Cheesecake
- Pour filling into pan with crust. Filling will probably go higher than the side crust, that's natural. Bake for about 60 to 70 minutes. until the edges are completely set and the 2-inch inner circle wobbles just slightly. Turn off heat but leave cheesecake in oven for 1 hour with the door open a crack. Move to a wire rack and let it cool further for 30 minutes to an hour. Place in the refrigerator overnight or longer. Remove pan and slide onto a serving plate. Cut into slices and serve plain, topped with a fruit compote, or a chilled fruit sauce.
- Strawberry Sauce – Process 1½ cups strawberries (frozen or fresh), ¼ cup sugar, and 1 tsp lemon zest in a food processor until blended, chunky or smooth. Chill for at 1 hour or as long as you want.