New York Style Cheesecake is known for being rich, creamy, heavy and indulgent. And when I say “heavy” I mean it literally, because the classic recipe for this type of cheesecake calls for 2 1/2 lbs of cream cheese! The dense but smooth texture of the cheesecake is its signature, setting it apart from other types of cheesecakes and making it so popular – and rather high in fat from all that cream cheese. Having a slice once in a while is a real treat and not one to miss, but a lighter version of this classic recipe, like the Authentic New York Cheesecake developed by America’s Test Kitchen from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook means that you can indulge a little more often.
This cheesecake looks and tastes just like the real thing. It is dense and creamy, with a wonderful cream cheese flavor backed up by a hint of lemon zest and a bit of vanilla extract. It feels very decadent when you take that first bite, so you might be a bit surprised to hear what goes into this cheesecake. It uses light cream cheese – with only a fraction of the fat of regular cream cheese – as well as low fat cottage cheese and low fat yogurt cheese. The trick to using the cottage cheese is draining it. Getting rid of that excess moisture allows it to blend very smoothly in with the rest of the ingredients in this cake. You will need a food processor to make this cheesecake, as it is essential to getting the texture of the filling down pat.
The yogurt cheese is also an unusual ingredient. Some stores sell yogurt cheese already packaged (it is also called labne), but you can simply use thick Greek-style yogurt and drain it along with the cream cheese for a similar result if your store doesn’t carry the labne. America’s Test Kitchen recommends draining plain, non-Greek yogurt for 10 hours to make your own yogurt cheese, but it is a lot quicker to start with the thicker Greek yogurt, which is easy to find in just about any grocery store.
The other trick to this cheesecake is the baking method. Some cheesecakes call for the use of a water bath, which allows heat to hit the pan at a very consistent temperature. This cheesecake is baked briefly at a very high temperature to set it, then baked for a long time at an extremely low temperature, which allows the custard to cook gently even without the aid of a water bath. Your cheesecake shouldn’t crack during baking with this method, although I will confess that mine cracked during cooling because my kitchen was very cold and the big temperature change caused the cheesecake to cool too quickly (and therefore crack).
This cheesecake is delicious plain or topped with fresh berries. It keeps well, covered in the refrigerator, for at least two days after baking, too.
8 whole graham crackers
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp sugar
1-lb 1 percent cottage cheese
8-oz lowfat yogurt cheese (or Greek-style yogurt)
1-lb light cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Process the graham crackers in a food processor to fine, even crumbs, about 30 seconds. Add in melted butter and sugar and pulse or stir to combine, then pour crumbs into a 9‑inch springform pan and press into an even layer using the flat bottom of a measuring cup or glass. Bake the crust until fragrant (and browned around the edges), 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
For the filling: While the crust cools, increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees. Line a medium bowl with a clean dish towel or several layers of paper towels. Spoon the cottage cheese into the bowl (and Greek yogurt, if using instead of yogurt cheese) and let drain for 30 minutes (this can also be done in a fine strainer).
Process the drained cottage cheese in a food processor until very smooth and no visible lumps remain,
about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the cream cheese and yogurt cheese and
continue to process until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. (Yogurt can be added with cottage cheese if you drained them together).
Add the sugar vanilla, lemon zest, and salt and continue to process until smooth, about 1 minute. With the processor running, add the eggs one at a time and continue to process until smooth.
Being careful not to disturb the baked crust, coat the inside of the pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the
pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the cheese mixture into the cooled crust and place in the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes at 500F. Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the cheesecake reads 150 degrees, about 1 hour and 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
Transfer the cake to a wire rack and run a paring knife around the edge of the cake. Let cool until
barely warm, 21/2 to 3 hours, running a paring knife around the edge of the cake every hour or so. Wrap
the pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.
To serve, wrap a wet, hot kitchen towel around the springform pan and let stand for 1 minute. Remove
the sides of the pan. Blot any excess moisture from the top of the cheesecake with paper towels. Let the
cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.
Per Serving: Cal 330; Fat 13g; Sat Fat 8g; Chol 90mg; Carb 40g; Protein 13g; Fiber 0g; Sodium 500mg