Classic cheesecake perennial token of Kentucky hospitality

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I like cheese. I also really, really like cake. Let’s be real: who doesn’t? Where I come from, not liking cheese or cake is akin to not liking Scarlett O’Hara’s curtain dress: it simply isn’t done. Now, considering everyone in Kentucky likes cheese, and everyone in Kentucky likes cake, there is clearly only one logical conclusion that we can reach: everyone in Kentucky loves cheesecake.

Ah, yes. Cheesecake. The David of cheeses, the Pieta of cakes, it is deserving of only the Michelangelo of bakers: my grandmother, who passed on her famous recipe to my mother and entrusted her to carry on the family tradition of never crossing a threshold without a cheesecake. Wedding? Bring a cheesecake. Christening? Bring a cheesecake. Funeral? Bring two cheesecakes and wear black.

Now, the key to a good cheesecake is a good pan, believe it or not. Without a spring-form pan, forget about it: you can’t flip a cheesecake out of a normal cake pan, so if the pan doesn’t come off on its own then you’re pretty much up the crick without a paddle. Your other option is digging the cake out of the pan with a fork, which, though effective, is quite sad in comparison to a perfect flip out of a pan.

So. You have the proper pan. But just because you have the pan doesn’t mean you can cook with that pan. Now, you must prepare the proper pan. Take a fistful of shortening and smear it all over the inside of the spring-form pan. Don’t be shy; use too little and the cake won’t spring free of the pan (pun totally intended). Sprinkle some white sugar on top of the shortening to seal it all in.

Now, with your pan prepared, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take out a package of graham crackers and a melted stick of butter. Seal the graham crackers into a gallon sized Ziploc bag and passionately pulverize them with a rolling pin like they just tried to run off with your man.

Dump the crumbs into a bowl and add some of the butter, mixing with your hands. It is totally up to you as to how buttery you want the crust, so add as much or as little as you think you’ll want. When the crumbs are all thoroughly moistened, squish them firmly into the bottom of the spring-form pan.

Take out a stand mixer (or, alternately, a bowl and wooden spoon, though they are significantly less cool). Cream together five packages of cream cheese and two cups sugar. Yes, you heard me: five packages. Forty ounces of creamy, cheesy goodness. I can feel the heart attack now, and it feels awful similar to the feeling I get when my favorite horse wins the derby. Oh, wait, that feeling isn’t a heart attack: it’s love.

Add two whole eggs into the mixer, followed by three egg whites. Just the whites. You can tell this recipe is super because it calls for both whole eggs and non-whole eggs.

Beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy (well, as light and fluffy as forty ounces of cream cheese can be, which is indeed surprisingly light and fluffy). With the mixer running, add in a teaspoon of vanilla, three tablespoons of flour, and the juice of just one small lemon (about a tablespoon or so). Add in about a teaspoon of the zest as well. Finally, add a quarter of a cup of heavy whipping cream and beat well.

Pour the batter over the graham cracker crust and bake for twenty to twenty five minutes. Then, turn the heat down to 250 degrees and bake for another half hour to forty five minutes. Once the cake is just beginning to set, turn off the oven and leave the cake in until cool, preferably overnight.

Be sure to cut the cake into small slices, because each one is as rich as a child of old money. And, if you cut them too large, you won’t have enough to go around and then you’ll have a family feud on your floury hands. But boy, are they delicious. This cake is best served with a caveat of diabetes and, if you would like, a nice light fruit topping to offset the intense amount of love weighing down the cake.

The Recipe

2 whole eggs

3 egg whites

5 packages (40 oz) of cream cheese

2 cups of sugar

1 stick of butter

1 package of graham crackers, pulverized

1 tspn of vanilla extract

1 tbspn of flour

1 tbspn of lemon juice

1/4 cup of whip cream

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