My beloved 8-year-old nephew nicknamed himself "Boo-Raj" (rhymes with garage) and this is his favorite dessert. I cannot show up at his home without this cheesecake, and I live in another state (so I bring my giant cheesecake pan with me). We have a big family, so I need to make a big cake when we are together. I have to go to Costco to buy a 3lb brick of cream cheese, because this is one big Boo-Raj cheesecake! NOTE: I also have used the "bain marie" method of baking this - where you put the cheesecake pan in a deep roasting pan and fill the outer pan half way up the side of the cheesecake pan with hot water, after you put it in the oven -- it bakes a little nicer this way, but is not critical. If I use this method, I always encase the bottom of the cheesecake pan with foil, letting it come up over the edges to keep the water from seeping into the bottom of the springform pan. Passive work time listed reflects the entire cooling and chilling process, and you really can't speed it up - I start it before breakfast so it's ready for dinner.
- 4 cups graham crackers, ground into crumbs (2 celophane packages)
- 1 cup pecans, chopped finely (feel free to omit these or replace with some other kind of nut, macadamea, almond, etc)
- 2⁄3 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon (you can skip if you want a more "pure, basic" cheesecake)
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 3 lbs softened cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 6 eggs
- 16 ounces sour cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Use a 12" spring form pan- I've used a 10" pan, but had a little filling left over.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Combine graham crackers, butter, brown sugar, and pecans until nice and crumbly (I use a food processor).
- Press into the springform pan, use a metal measuring cup to flatten bottom and build up the sides of the crust as close to the top edge of the pan as possible.
- In Kitchenaid or other stand mixer, whip soft cream cheese (must be soft and smooth or you will have ghastly chunks in the finished product), sugar, lemon juice and vanilla.
- Beat in eggs one at a time until well blended.
- Place cheesecake pan on top of a rimmed baking sheet to keep melted butter from running into your oven.
- Pour filling into crust (If there is a little filling left over, just pour it into another cake pan and bake a small cake"for sampling").
- Bake until the cheesecake has just begun to crack and is not jiggly, about 70 minutes- check at 45-50 minutes and keep an eye on it.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool several minutes.
- Keep oven heat at 350.
- Combine topping ingredients and pour over warm cake, tilt to cover to edges.
- Return to oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
- Chill in refrigerator 4 to 5 hours.