Make It There, Make It Anywhere: New York Cheesecake

Some 4,000 years ago, Greeks invented the cheesecake, or at least the earliest form of it. It was fed to Olympic athletes to provide energy. (Take that, energy drinks!)

Fast forward to the early 1900s in New York City. Italian immigrants perfected the dense, decadent dessert that the whole world loves — and imitates with regional cheeses and varieties.

Today, it’s only appropriate to celebrate National Cheesecake Day with the Big Apple take on this big, bold dessert. What makes it New York cheesecake? Two words: two creams — cream cheese and sour cream (or heavy cream if you prefer an even sweeter version).

The best thing about cheesecake (besides eating it) is that it’s surprisingly simple to make. Want delicious proof? You can’t quite make this recipe in a New York minute, but the hands-on time isn’t much longer than that.


  • 18 graham crackers (well crushed)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 32oz plain cream cheese
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform or pie pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar with melted butter until evenly blended. Press onto bottom of pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth.
  4. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time.
  5. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth and zest.
  6. Pour filling into crust.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.
  8. Chill until serving.

Hint: For an un-cracked finish, turn off the oven and let cheesecake cool inside with door closed.

— P.J. Butland