Key Lime Cheesecake
This thick and creamy key lime cheesecake is the perfect combination of sweet and tart!
Summer is in full swing here in Utah. And by that I mean it’s 100+ degrees (sigh). I’m usually a big fan of summer, sunshine and warm weather, but a these past few weeks have been kind of miserable. We’ve been getting up extra early and heading out to the park before it heats up, then staying inside to keep cool for the rest of the day. Our poor air conditioner (it’s brand new) is struggling, which means we’ve been making lots of simple dinners and no-bake goodies. This cheesecake though, is definitely worth the few hours of oven time it requires. Because after chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours, it’s absolute perfection. Cold, dense, slightly tart and insanely refreshing.
If you’ve never made a classic cheesecake before, it’s time to hop in the kitchen and learn how! I was so afraid for so many years, but ever since I made this New York cheesecake, I feel like I can do just about anything! Ok, more like make any kind of cheesecake I want. ???? You’ll need a springform pan, a large (and deep) roasting pan and some extra large foil. You can use either a hand mixer or a stand mixer to beat the filling and the topping, it’s totally up to you.
First, you’ll bake the crust, then pour in the filling and bake the cheesecake in a water bath for about 2 hours. I like mine on the denser side, so I usually give it the full amount of time. If want a nice light top, tent your cheesecake around the 1 hour mark, just be VERY careful about how you do it. You’ll want to make sure it will in no way touch the top of your cheesecake. Just mess with it a bit before opening your oven, it doesn’t have to look pretty. When the time is up, turn your oven off, crack the door and let it cool for 1 hour inside the oven. This gently cooling process will prevent it from cracking. Remove the cheesecake from the bath and transfer it to the refrigerator to chill. I like to set mine on a small cooling rack, that way air can circulate underneath it. DO NOT COVER IT. I repeat, DO NOT COVER IT or you’ll end up with a puddle of condensation on top of your cheesecake. It needs at least 4 hours of uncovered chill time!!
About an hour before you plan on serving it, make the whipped topping and pipe it on top using a pastry bag fitted with an extra large star tip. When you’re ready to slice it up, garnish it with graham cracker crumbs, lime zest and a few lime slices. Totally optional, but it looks really pretty. Enjoy every bite of it!
- 2 c. graham cracker crumbs (about 15 sheets)
- 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 5 tbsp. butter, melted
- 2 lbs. or (4) 8 oz. blocks plain cream cheese, room temperature
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1½ tbsp. lime zest
- 1½ c. granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- ⅓ c. + 1 tbsp. key lime juice*
- ⅔ c. sour cream, room temperature
- ⅔ c. heavy whipping cream, room temperature
- Whipped cream topping:
- 1 c. heavy whipping cream, chilled
- ¼ c. powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Graham cracker crumbs
- Lime zest
- Lime slices
- Cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with extra large aluminum foil so that no water can leak in (it's worth a trip to the store to buy the 18" wide foil). Wrap it with two layer for extra security. Crimp the top of the foil around the top edge of the springform pan. You can also place the unwrapped springform pan in a slightly larger cake pan (10") that has 2" sides (I ran out of big foil but had a nice cake pan that it just barely fit into. I didn't have to worry at all about the foil keeping water out).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, placing the top rack in lower third of oven. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the finely ground graham cracker crumbs with the sugar and salt. Pour the melted butter over top and mix until the crumbs become coated.
- Pour into the prepared springform pan and gently smooth out (I like to use a metal measuring cup for this). Carefully work the crumbs up the sides so that they are 1½" tall and approximately ¼" thick. You should have a nice layer on the bottom and the sides should go about halfway up your pan. Place into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Turn oven down to 325 degrees.
- Beat the cream cheese, salt, vanilla and lime zest in the bowl of a stand mixer for approximately 4 minutes or until smooth and creamy. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the sugar, then turn back up to high and beat for an additional minute. With mixing speed on low, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add the lime juice, sour cream, then the heavy cream, beat on high for 1 minute.
- Place the prepared springform pan into a large high-sided roasting pan. Pour the cream cheese filling into the springform pan, smoothing out the top with a spatula. Pour boiling water around the springform pan, taking care not to get any on the filling. You'll want the water to go halfway up the side of the pan (this was just to the lip of my 2" tall cake pan). Place in the oven and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minuets. If you like extra firm cheesecake, continue baking for an additional 14 minutes for a total of 2 hours. If the cheesecake is getting too dark, tent it with foil (taking care to not let it touch the top of the cheesecake).
- After the the cheesecake has baked, turn off the oven, slightly crack the door open and allow to cool for 1 hour. This is the key to getting a perfect top without it falling or cracks forming. Remove the cheesecake from the bath, dry the bottom and cover with foil. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours before serving, I prefer 6+ hours.
- Prepare the whipped cream by beating all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Using a extra large star tip, pipe over the top of the cooled cheesecake (you can also do this at about 3 hours into the chill time so that it can firm up even more during that remaining hour). During the chilling process the cheesecake should come away from the edges of the pan, making it easy and mess-free to remove it before serving. Garnish with graham cracker crumbs, lime zest and lime slice, if desired.
Recipe source: my Perfect New York Cheesecake
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