The recipe for my father’s famous cheesecake. Once a guarded secret, now I’d like to see it as his legacy. It seriously is the best cheesecake you’ll ever have.
For the crust:
- 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
For the cheesecake:
- 2 lbs of cream cheese, softened
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 tsp of orange peel
- 1 tsp of lemon peel
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 4 eggs
For the topping:
- 16 oz of sour cream
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup and 2-3 tsp of sugar
- 1 packet (1/4 oz) of gelatin
- 4-5 tbsp of water
Directions for crust:
- Melt the butter over a low heat.
- Place the graham cracker crumbs into a cake pan with decently-sized walls.
- Pour the butter on the crumbs and mix.
- Flatten the crumb/butter mixture into a crust roughly 1/4" thick only on the bottom, not the sides.
- Set aside and move on to making the cheesecake.
Directions for cheesecake:
- Pre-heat your oven to 350°
- In a mixing bowl, blend the cream cheese with the vanilla, orange peel, and lemon peel.
- While continually blending, add in the milk, then the eggs, and finally the sugar.
- Continue blending until the mixture has a batter-like consistency.
- Pour the batter into your pan with crust. Make sure you only fill the pan 1/2 to 2/3 full so you have room for the topping.
- Bake the cake in the oven for one hour. Do not turn off the oven when finished.
- Place the cake in the refrigerator to cool and move on to making the topping.
Directions for topping:
- In a mixing bowl, blend the sour cream with vanilla and the 1/2 cup of sugar. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, warm up the water on low heat. Do not boil.
- Mix in the gelatin and the 2-3 tsp of sugar.
- Quickly add the gelatin/water/sugar mixture to the sour cream/vanilla/sugar mixture and stir thoroughly.
- Pour the topping mixture on top of your cooled cheesecake.
- Place the topped cake back into the oven for 5 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place it into the refrigerator overnight.
An electric mixer is ideal for this recipe to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
Do not overmix the cheesecake batter. If you do it will become more liquid. There is no flour in this recipe, so you have to be careful.
It might seem strange to only fill the pan 1/2 to 2/3 full, but the cake will rise a bit in the oven, and you'll need room for the topping. The ideal pan for this is one with a removable side.
When you cool the cheesecake, leave it on a cooling board for 10-20 minutes after pulling it out of the oven, then place in the refrigerator. Start making the topping once you place the cake in the refrigerator.
The gelatin is necessary to make the topping solid, but you have to move quickly and carefully. Have all the ingredients ready to move so once you combine the gelatin with the water and sugar, you can get it into the sour cream/vanilla/sugar mixture and then on top of the cake. Like any Jello mold, it will solidify in the refrigerator. Hence the long cooling time. The 5 minutes in the oven is only to finish the topping on the cake before cooling.
Variations can come to your heart's content. Feel free to flavor the cheesecake batter any way you choose, but make sure it doesn't liquify the batter too much. If you wish to do a chocolate swirl into the cake, pour some chocolate syrup into the batter once you place it into the pan and then swirl it with your finger before baking. I personally though like to leave a Hollywood cheesecake in its original form.
If you wish to get more chocolately, try Oreo cookie crumbs instead of graham cracker crumbs.
The chocolate swirls in the topping came from my father. He simply swirled chocolate syrup into the topping before the final cooling period in the refrigerator.
Healthy It Up
Easiest way to "healthy up" this cheesecake is to use fat free cream cheese, fat free sour cream, and skim milk. The cheesecake in the picture was actually made this way, despite my father preferring full-fat ingredients.
Best way to serve Hollywood Cheesecake is with fresh fruit like strawberries or cherries. You could also try making a blueberry compote or use some kind of berry topping/pie filling.