When I was testing the recipe for Red Velvet Cheesecake, I made about a million plain cheesecakes. Once I finally felt like I nailed it, I decided to start testing different versions of the cheesecake to get some variety. This one was the first one I tried, and it got rave reviews at two different parties. What makes this cheesecake special is the orange zest and Grand Marnier, an orange liquor, which gives it a fresh and festive flavor. I personally think the orange is perfect for the holidays but if you are more of a lemon fan, you could substitute lemon zest and Limoncello for a different citrus flavor.
Now this recipe is super easy and almost full-proof but there are two things that you must do to ensure success. Tip #1: Make sure ALL the ingredients are at room temperature. When all the components are soft and at the same temperature, they combine so much easier in your mixer and the end result is smooth and velvety as opposed to lumpy. Tip #2: This cheesecake has to refrigerate for at least 6 hours, so plan accordingly. I always make it the night before I want to serve it and let it refrigerate overnight.
I served this cheesecake with mixed berries that I sprinkled with sugar and a spoon full of the Grand Marnier, but the cake is so rich and delicious that it can be enjoyed by itself too. Happy Holidays!
25-30 Graham Cracker Squares
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 stick of butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 3 yolks, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- 20 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tbs. Grand Marnier
- Zest of 1 orange
To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, grind graham crackers and sugar. Add the butter and pulse until moist; the mixture should look like wet sand. Then press it into the bottom of a spring form pan and bake for 20 minutes. Set it on the stove to cool while you prepare the cheesecake filling.
To make the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees. In a medium sized bowl whisk together your liquid ingredients: vanilla, eggs, egg yolks and heavy cream and set aside. Then, using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the sour cream for 1 min. Then, add the cream cheese, a few chunks at a time and mix until combined and smooth. Next, add the sugar and mix until well combined (about 2 minutes). Now it is time to pour in the liquid ingredients a little at a time; pour in a little, let mix until combined and then pour in some more. Once everything has blended, stop the mixer and add the orange zest and Grand Marnier. Turn the mixer back on for about 30 seconds or so, to let that citrus flavor incorporate. Then, pour the batter into the spring form pan on top of the graham cracker crust. Place pan into a large roasting pan and pour hot water around it. (See picture below. I usually use an entire tea kettle full of hot water). Put the cheesecake into the 275 degree oven and let it bake for 90 minutes. Now ovens are different so what you are looking for is the cheesecake to not giggle at all when you gently shake the pan. If it giggles in the center let bake for another 10-15 minutes.
Once it's done, refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Then slice and enjoy!