8 servings

This rich, dense New York-style cheesecake received our test kitchens' highest rating--even without any toppings. Pick from one or all of our toppings that follow the main recipe.

How to Make It

Step 1

Combine first 3 ingredients; stir well. Press mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of a lightly greased 9" springform pan. Chill thoroughly.

Step 2

Beat cream cheese at high speed of a heavy-duty electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add 1 3/4 cups sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla; beat at low speed until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 300° for 1 hour and 25 minutes. Turn off oven, and leave cheesecake in oven 4 hours. (Do not open oven door.)

Step 3

Remove from oven; cool completely on wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours. Remove sides of springform pan; transfer cheesecake to a serving platter. Cut into 8 wedges; top each slice with desired Cheesecake Toppings.

Step 4

Orange Cheesecake: Brush orange marmalade evenly over slice. Cut candied orange slices in halves, thirds, and quarters. Arrange them over slice.

Step 5

Black-and-White Cheesecake: Spoon one can each ready-made chocolate and cream cheese frostings into seperate microwave-safe bowls. Microwave each at HIGH 20 seconds or until just soft and pipeable. Spoon frostings into seperate heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bags. Seal; snip a tiny hole in the corner or each bag. Pipe chocolate frosting in a zigzag fashion over slice. Pipe cream cheese frosting over chocolate frosting in opposite direction. Pipe additional chocolate frosting over cream cheese frosting. Place chocolate-covered coffee beans on crust edge, using chocolate frosting to secure in place.

Step 6

Coconut Cheesecake: Spoon one can ready-made cream cheese frosting into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 40 seconds or until melted and pourable. Pour over slice; sprinkle with grated fresh or frozen coconut.

Step 7

Walnut Cheesecake: Spoon walnuts-in-syrup ice cream topping over slice. (We tested with Smuckers.)

Step 8

Peppermint Cheesecake: Spoon one can ready-made cream cheese frosting into microwave safe bowl. Microwave HIGH for 30 seconds or until almost melted and stirrable. Combine frosting and crushed peppermint candy. Stir well. Spread over slice. Place whole pillow-shaped peppermint candies around edge of crust.

Step 9

Raspberry Cheesecake: Brush melted seedless raspberry jam over slice. Arrange fresh raspberries over slice; brush lightly with additional melted jam.

Step 10

Café au Lait Cheesecake: Spoon sweetened whipped cream or thawed frozen whipped topping into a decorating bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe rosettes over slice, and sprinkle evenly with ground cinnamon. Place a pirouline cookie on the crust edge of slice.

Step 11

Holly Cheesecake: Pipe green cake decorating gel in shape of holly leaves over slice. Arrange 3 red candy-coated chocolate-covered peanuts at top of leaves.

Christmas with Southern Living 1999

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