barely adapted from Food Network
- 5 oz. animals crackers, finely ground into crumbs
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
- pinch of salt
- 2 lbs. cream cheese (4 8-ounce blocks), room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 vanilla beans
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 to 2 lbs. fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled
- 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- tiny pinch of salt
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
For the crust:
- Melt the butter, covered in the microwave, in a medium microwave safe bowl, or a saucepan. Brush a 9-inch springform pan with some of the butter. Stir the remaining butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom of the pan, taking care to get the crust evenly into the edges. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool.
For the filling:
- Beat the cream cheese on medium speed with a stand mixer or hand-held mixer until smooth. Add 1 1/4 cups sugar and beat just until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Add the vanilla beans and beat for 15 seconds or until evenly combined. Slowly beat in the sour cream, then eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla extract; take care not to over whip. Pour into the cooled crust.
- Bake the cheesecake on a large baking sheet for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees—the outside of the cake will set but the center should have a slight jiggle.
- Remove cheesecake from the oven. Run a knife around the edges and cool to room temperature for at least 3 hours. Cover and refrigerate and additional 4 hours or overnight.
- Before serving, clean and hull your strawberries and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the strawberry preserves with the lemon juice and vanilla extract over medium high heat until no longer cloudy in appearance, about 5 minutes or so. The reason we’re heating this is to the mixture is easy to pour on top of the cake and isn’t cloudy and greyish. Cool the strawberry preserve mixture in the fridge for a half hour or cool to the touch. Arrange your strawberries on top of your cheesecake, and brush the strawberry preserve mixture all over the berries.
- Remove the springform ring. Dip a knife in warm water, wipe dry before slicing each piece. Serve immediately and refrigerate any leftovers. Eat within 2 days.