I don’t use the title of “ultimate cheesecake” lightly. I’ve been making cheesecake for years and I think I have finally perfected the ultimate airy, fluffy cheesecake (if you prefer a really dense cheesecake, try this recipe).
About a year ago, I made a Smitten Kitchen recipe that calls for beating the eggs and sugar until they are very light and fluffy to add volume to a buckwheat cake that might otherwise be a little dense. Over Pesach (Passover), I had the idea to try this with cheesecake. The results were phenomenal–folding the fluffy eggs-sugar mixture into the cream cheese and sour cream yielded the creamiest, airiest, and most delicious cheesecake I’ve every had. And I’ve eaten a lot of cheesecakes.
I’m not going to lie, this recipe is a little bit patchki (time consuming). And it uses a lot of dishes. But it’s worth it, I promise! If you don’t like coconut, you can substitute almond meal in the crust, or use crushed gluten-free cookies or even a traditional graham cracker crust. You can also bake this cheesecake in a 9×13 inch pan but increase the baking time by 25-30 minutes.
Ultimate Airy Cheesecake
1 + 1/2 cups unsweetened dried coconut
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 + 1/3 cups sugar, divided
16 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
16 oz sour cream, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 8-inch round (or square) pans. Mix together crust ingredients: coconut, sugar, and egg. Press into the bottom of the pans, bake for 6 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- Using a mixer, beat eggs and sugar for 10-15 minutes (yes! really! do it!) until they are very pale and have at least doubled in volume (it will look like thick cream).
- In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, and lemon juice and zest.
- Gently fold the egg-sugar mixture into the cream cheese mixture in three batches everything is uniformly combined. Pour the batter into prepared crusts and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 300 degrees for another 35-45 minutes until the center is still a little jiggly but the edges are browned and most of the cheesecake is firm.
- Turn the oven off, crack the door open, and allow the cheesecake to sit in the oven for about an hour (this helps to avoid the top cracking by cooling the cheesecake slowly), then remove and cool the rest of the way on the counter (or in the fridge, but the top will likely crack).