Cheesecake, defined as a baked custard on top of a cookie base, apparently originated in ancient Greece, was refined as a sort of tart in late medieval Europe and became a staple in English cookbooks for the next five hundred years. Various recipes for cheescake were brought over to the American colonies in the 1700's There was even a tavern in Philadelphia (where some of my ancestors settled,) called the "Cheesecake House," in 1730.
Our family recipe is made from a combination of the original curd pudding recipe popular with farmers in medieval England (using cottage cheese,) New York style (using cream cheese,) which was introduced in the early 1900's, and sour cream, which was contributed by Easter European immigrants in the mid twentieth century.
This light creamy cheesecake has four layers that pair with each other perfectly: a crisp graham cracker crust supporting a classic vanilla cheesecake topped by a creamy sour cream layer and sweet cherry pie filling.
Total for all layers
This dessert tastes best if it’s been chilled in the fridge overnight before serving. It works equally well with either full or low fat cheeses.
Pull the ingredients out of the fridge before you start baking. If they are at room temperature when you combine them, your filling will be smoother.
Graham Cracker Crust
Mix 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs with 1/2 cup of melted butter and 1/4 cup of sugar. Press mixture evenly and firmly into the bottom of a 10” springform pan. The bottom of a flat measuring cup works as a great tool to do this. Set aside. (Some cheesecake recipes require pre-baking the crust, but this one doesn’t need it.)
In a blender on low combine 6 ounces of cream cheese and two eggs until smooth. Then add 6 ounces of cottage cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1/2 a generous teaspoons of vanilla and mix on high for a couple of seconds.
Pour the Cheesecake Filling into the springform pan over the graham cracker crust. Bake in a 350° oven on the middle or lower rack for 20 minutes. The center will still appear a bit wobbly when you take it out, while the sides will be slightly firmer. This is OK. Cool for 5 minutes.
Sour Cream Layer
Gently spoon 1 1/2 cups sour cream (sweetened with 2 Tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla) over the cake slowly on opposite sides until covered.
Bake at 475° for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.
Remove cheesecake from the fridge and run a pairing knife between the pan sides and cake. Make sure to go all the way to the bottom of the graham cracker crust. Slide it onto a serving plate, cover the top with a can of cherry pie filling and serve.
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