THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY FRESH STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE

I’ve hacked many a cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory in several Top Secret Recipes cookbooks but have yet to clone the cheesecake that’s been the chain’s top-seller for the last thirty years . . . until now. Here is a brand-new hack for the chain’s original cheesecake recipe with fresh strawberries in strawberry glaze on top. One difference with this recipe versus any that I’ve previously cracked is the larger size of the cheesecake. This recipe will fill a 10-inch springform cake pan all the way to the top, giving you twelve big servings. When you cut some parchment paper to line the pan, be sure to make the paper that goes around the inside of the pan a little taller than the pan itself. This way, when the cheesecake swells up as it cooks, it won’t overflow the pan. As the cheesecake cools it will come back down to about flush with the cake pan. Because the cake is so thick, you will cook it for 70 minutes in a 350 degree F oven, then you will turn the oven off and let the cake sit in there for 20 minutes more to cook through. Use strawberry glaze that’s usually found in the produce department at your local grocery store.

CRUST
9 ounces (2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

CHEESECAKE FILLING
40 ounces (5 8-ounce pkgs.) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1⅔ cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
½ cup sour cream
2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
36 fresh strawberries
2 cups strawberry glaze

OPTIONAL
Extra creamy canned whipped cream


Cooking method

1-Line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper. Make the parchment paper lining the side of the pan slightly higher than the pan to hold in the filling as it rises. Butter the pan to make the paper stick. Wrap foil around the bottom of the pan to keep it dry when in the water bath.

2-Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then press the crumbs into the bottom of the lined pan and about two-thirds of the way up the side. Use the bottom of a glass or bottle to press the crumbs flat. Place the pan in your freezer until you are ready to fill it.

3-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Fill a pan that is larger than the springform pan with ½ inch of water and place it in the center of the oven.

4-Make the cheesecake filling by combining the cream cheese with the sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. When the mixture is smooth, mix in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Pour all of the filling into the springform pan. Smooth the top with a spatula, then gently place the pan in the water bath in the oven and bake for 70 minutes or until the top is light brown. After 70 minutes, turn the oven heat off and let the cheesecake sit in the closed oven for another 20 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it cool, then cover and chill for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.

5-To serve the cheesecake, remove it from the springform pan and cut into 12 slices. Slice the stem end off the strawberries, then dip each strawberry into the glaze (it helps to pierce the strawberry with a skewer to dip it into the glaze). Place a slice of cheesecake on a serving plate. Place two glazed strawberries on top of each slice of cheesecake and one strawberry on the plate. Add a dollop of whipped cream on top of each slice of cheesecake and a dollop of whipped cream on the plate, if desired.

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