Monday, March 7, 2016

Junior's Cheesecake Copycat Recipe

You may not know this about me (if you don't, then, sorry, but you don't know me very well), but I love cheesecake. I requested it for every birthday growing up, and my sweet mom usually delivered. My favorite for many years has been Godiva Chocolate from the Cheesecake Factory. And I've spent way too much time in NYC searching for the very best NY cheesecake. So last December when I took Madi to NYC for her birthday, I knew a cheesecake hunt would be on the agenda. As we were headed to see Les Miserables at Times Square, we happened to noticed this place called Junior's practically across the street from our theater. And they happened to claim to sell the "world's best cheesecake." Since the line was kinda long, we decided to wait until after the show to grab some. We enjoyed our show immensely and bolted for Junior's as soon as it was over. The line was even longer, but that's a good sign. So I determined to wait, and let me tell you, the wait was worth it! I came home with a couple slices of the very best cheesecake I've ever had (ok, to be completely honest, I'd still take a slice of the Godiva any day, but it certainly has met it's rival here)! So when I found this copycat recipe a few weeks later, I couldn't wait to make it. It just took me a couple of months to plan ahead to get the ingredients and make it the night before because it should refrigerate overnight. So...start planning now!

Note: The recipe I found didn't show the spongy Junior's crust recipe, so I made a graham cracker crust. I borrowed the crust and steam bath (to prevent cracking) idea from Mel's Kitchen Cafe Key Lime Cheesecake here: Make and bake the crust just like her recipe says, and then follow my instructions below. (My Junior's recipe calls for a water bath, but I was too scared to cook my delicate cheesecake in a big pan of water, so I used her steam bath method, and it worked great. I'll write those instructions below instead of the water bath.)

Junior's Cheesecake Copycat

Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese (use only full-fat) at room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbs. vanilla
2 extra large eggs
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 350. (You will bake the crust at 300, so just turn up the oven when done).
2. Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese.
3. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the cream just until completely blended. Be careful not to overmix as you don't want too much air in the batter! 
4. Place a metal 9x13 (or similar size) pan on the bottom rack and pour in 2-3 cups of boiling water. Immediately place the cheesecake on the upper rack (the two racks should be spaced as she describes in the crust-baking section of her recipe) and bake until the edges are light golden brown and the top is slightly golden tan, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours. 
5. Remove the cheesecake and transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 2 hours. Don't move it. Then, leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight or at least 4 hours.
6. I made a fruit topping to go with mine, which is also Mel's recipe found here: 
Fresh, juicy fruit works great (sliced strawberries, blueberries, etc); if you want a simple fruit sauce recipe combine 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice in a saucepan. Simmer, stirring often, until thick and syrupy (you may need to increase or decrease the sugar as needed depending on the fruit as well as adding a little water, a couple tablespoons at a time, if it is overly thick).


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