blue ribbon cheesecake

who else loved watching golden girls growing up?  part of me was so excited to get old and live in a house full of girlfriends.  maybe it was the friendships or perhaps it was all the cheesecake?
the GG made eating cheesecake a nightly ritual, which is totally a  ritual i could get behind.

so when i found out the pastry chef who made all of those cheesecakes had a cookbook coming out showcasing 300 different flavour varieties, i knew this was something I would be all over.  appropriately called 'the cheesecake bible' george geary offers up both sweet and savoury versions.  everything from black forrest cheesecake to golden girls cheesecake, and yes, even a sweet potato variety.
me? i'm a self professed cheesecake purest. so today i'm sharing with you his blue ribbon cheesecake recipe.  a cheesecake that has won numerous awards and is deservingly named.

fun fact: when he worked on the golden girls, he would make seven cheesecakes, sometimes even wedding cakes, italian food and even fried chicken for every friday-night taping.  

cheesecake helped those four gals cope with all their problems and it's certain to help you too!  #advicebyjen

blue ribbon cheesecake

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (recipe below or store-bought)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 lbs cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

preheat oven to 350F.
crust: in a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter.  press into bottom of 9-inch cheesecake pan or springform pan with 3-inch sides and freeze.
filling: in a mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until very smooth, about 3 minutes.  add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  mix in lemon juice and vanilla.
pour over frozen crust, smoothing out to sides of pan.  bake in preheated oven until top is light brown and centre has a slight jiggle to it, 45 to 55 minutes.  let cool on the counter for 10 minutes (do not turn oven off.). the cake will sink slightly.
topping: in a small bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla.  pour into center of cooled cake and spread out to edges.  bake for 5 minutes more.  let cool in pan on a wire rack for 2 hours.  cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before decorating or serving.
decoration: top with sliced strawberries when completely chilled.

serves 10-12

  • zest lemons and limes before juicing and freeze the zest for another recipe.
  • this cheese freezes well for up to 4 months before decorating.  defrost in the refrigerator the day before use and then decorate.
  • variation:  if fresh berries are not available, spread 1 cup of strawberry preserves on top.

graham cracker crumbs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
6 tablespoons whole milk
1/3 cup liquid honey
2 tablespoon vanilla extract
additional all-purpose flour for dusting

in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process all-purpose flour, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt, until combined, about 30 seconds.  remove the lid.  evenly  distribute butter pieces around the work bowl and pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal, about 10 times.  with the motor running, add milk, honey and vanilla through the feed tube; process until incorporated, about 10 seconds. the mixture should be very soft and tacky.
lay out a 10-inch length of plastic wrap and dust lightly with all-purpose flour.  turn dough out onto plastic wrap and pat into a rectangle about 1 inch thick.  wrap up and chill until firm, about 2 hours or up to 1 day.
divide dough in half; rewrap and return on half to the refrigerator.  cut a piece of parchment paper the same size as the baking sheet; place it on a flat work surface and dust with flour.  place dough on floured parchment and roll out to fit the paper; it should be about 1/4 inch thick.  place parchment with dough on the baking sheet.  prick dough all over with a fork.  chill until firm, about 30 minutes.  repeat with second half of dough
preheat oven to 350F
one sheet at a time, bake until firm, evenly golden, and dry-looking on top, 18-22 minutes.  let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes.  transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
to make into crumbs:  break cracker sheets into large chunks. in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process crackers, in batches as necessary, until fine crumbs form, about 3 minutes.  use as directed in recipes.


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