Passover was always my favorite family holiday growing up. We always had at least 30 people over to our house, crammed onto folding chairs falling over each other, and by the end of the night, friends with Irish last names reading the four questions from the megilah like they were regulars at temple. My father was the master of ceremonies, playing the piano and leading the Seder. My mother was in the kitchen until the very moment that the Seder started, preparing tender brisket, fluffy matzoh balls in her legendary chicken soup, and cheesecake so delicious that no one ever missed the crust.
Considering that I was lousy at the piano, it was a foregone conclusion that I would help out in the kitchen. And I was always thrilled.
This is the best cheesecake recipe on the face of the planet. It is rich, creamy, and sweet. It’s incredibly dense, like a glorious brick in your stomach. Pushing your knife through this is like running your fingers through wet sand. It is slow, sensual, gives you some resistance. And it’s so darn satisfying.
The World’s Best Cheesecake (Kosher for Passover)
- 6 cups crushed nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, or whatever you like)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 1 stick butter, melted, as needed
- 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
- 1 (15-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- Special equipment: Springform pan lined with tinfoil
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine 1 cup of the sugar with nuts in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. Drizzle butter over; mix well until all the crumbs are moistened and become a thick sort of paste. You may not use all of the butter—it should be just a bit moist, but not sopping wet. Pat the mixture into an even layer in the springform pan. Set aside.
- Combine cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla, and remaining ½ cup sugar in a large bowl. Mix until all are roughly combined.
- Add the eggs to the mixture. Mix with your hand mixer or stand mixer for at least 7 minutes, or until the mixture has increased in volume by about 1/3 (yes, Christina Tosi, you have convinced me that a prolonged mixing time really makes an outstanding cake).
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the crust. Place on a sheet pan with a lip and put it in the oven. Pour water into the sheet pan to create a water bath. Cook about 45 minutes, or until the outside is firm but the center is still somewhat jiggly. If the cheesecake starts to become golden around the edges, take it out at once.
- When the cake is done, cool it for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.