Classic Creamy Cheesecake

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Servings: 12
Related Categories: Cheesecake, Desserts
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    Graham Cracker Crust
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      double graham crackers, broken into pieces (or 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs )
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      2   tablespoons 
      granulated sugar
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      5   tablespoons 
      unsalted butter, melted
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      1   pound 
      cream cheese, softened to room temperature
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      1   cup 
      granulated sugar
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      large egg yolks
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      3   tablespoons 
      fresh lemon juice
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      1 1/2  teaspoons 
      pure vanilla extract
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      1/4  teaspoon 
      table salt
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      3   cups 
      sour cream

    Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 x 2-1/2-inch or higher springform pan.
    Make the crust: In a food processor, process the graham crackers and sugar until the cookies are fine crumbs, about 20 seconds. Add the melted butter and pulse about 10 times just until incorporated. (Alternatively, seal the cookies in a heavy-duty plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl, add the sugar, and toss with a fork to blend. Stir in the melted butter and toss to incorporate.)
    Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the base of the prepared pan and partway up the sides. Use a flat-bottomed, straight-sided glass to smooth the crumbs over the bottom and farther up the sides (but not all the way to the top). Be sure to press the bottom thoroughly so that the crumbs are evenly distributed. Lay plastic wrap over the crumbs to keep them from sticking to your fingers, and use your fingers to continue pressing the crust to a thin, even layer. Wrap the outside of the pan with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent leaking. Cover the crust with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
    In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar until very smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the egg yolks, beating until the batter is smooth and scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and beat until incorporated. Beat in the sour cream just until blended.
    Bake the cheesecake: Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Set the pan in a larger pan (a 12 x 2-inch cake pan or a roasting pan) and surround it with 1 inch of very hot water. Check that the oven is at 350 degrees F and bake the cake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven without opening the door and let the cake cool for 1 hour. Transfer the cheesecake to a rack (the center will still be jiggly) and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
    Unmold and slice the cheesecake: Be sure the cheesecake is thoroughly chilled. Have ready a serving plate and another flat plate that's at least as wide as the springform and covered in plastic wrap. Wipe a hot, damp cloth around the outside of the ring (or use a hair dryer). Run a metal spatula or a thin knife inside the ring. Release and gently loosen the ring and then lift it off. Set the plate with the plastic wrap on top of the cheesecake and carefully invert the pan. Heat the base of the springform with a hot, damp cloth or hair dryer and lift it off. Set the serving plate lightly on the bottom of the cheesecake (which is now facing up) and reinvert the cake. Lift off the plastic-wrapped plate.
    To cut neat slices, use a sharp, thin-bladed knife dipped in hot water (shake off excess drops) between each slice.
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