This cake stands tall with a seasonal berry topping. This a recipe for jam, crust and cheesecake. Read the directions carefully for making the jam as it includes the ingredients there. Nothing quick about it but it is fabulous.
To prepare 1 cup of Simple Berry Jam in advance, add the juice of 1 medium lemon or the juice of half an orange to a medium saucepan. It adds a nice citrusy flavor to the jam. Place a couple of small plates in the freezer. Wash, hull and halve 1 POUND OF FRESH STRAWBERRIES. Add to saucepan. Add 1 CUP OF SUGAR to the saucepan. Stir together over medium heat, boil for 20-25 minutes, until thickened. To check if the jam is set, remove one chilled plate from the freezer and spoon a small dab of the mixture onto it. Give the jam about 30 seconds, and push it with your finger. If it wrinkles, its set and done; if it moves about on the plate, it needs to be boiled a bit longer before you test it on the other plate. You'll also know the jam is done when it reaches 210*F/100*C on a candy thermometer. When the jam is set and done, remove it from the heat and stir in 1 TABLESPOON OF COLD SALTED BUTTER CUT INTO SMALL PIECES. Skim off any foam from the surface with a metal spoon, then pour the jam into clean heat-safe containers or jars. The jam will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. VARIATIONS: For Raspberry Jam: Decrease the amount of raspberries to 2 cups and add 1 tablespoon of strained fresh orange juice and 1 tablespoon of finely grated orange zest to the berries when stirring them with the sugar. Do the same for Blackberry Jam, but simply increase the amount of sugar to 1 1/2 cups.
To make the CRUST: Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450*F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. In a medium bowl, mix together the cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, nuts, vanilla and salt. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan, using your hands or the flat bottom of a small measuring cup to compress the crust. Put the pan in the freezer.
To make the FILLING and TOPPING: In a large bowl using a hand held mixer (I find this works better for the job, rather than a stand mixer), beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, lemon zest and orange zest on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl and the beaters to make sure there's no lumpy cream cheese in sight. With the mixer on its lowest speed, add the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla all at once, mixing until smooth and the eggs are well incorporated. Mix in the sour cream until just incorporated.
Remove the crust from the freezer, put on a rimmed baking sheet and wrap the sides of the pan with aluminum foil. Pour the filling into the prepared pan and put the pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until the top is puffed.
Lower the oven temperature to 225*F and bake until the cake is mostly firm but still slightly wobbly in the center, 45 minutes to 1 hour more. (If the cheesecake is not done after 45 minutes, check it every 5 minutes or so until it is.) Once the cheesecake is done, remove it from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature in the pan. Cover and refrigerate it for 8 HOURS before topping.
To make JAM TOPPING: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the jam with 1 teaspoon water until it is pourable. Let it cool to room temperature and pour over the cheesecake. Return the cheesecake to the refrigerator until the jam topping is set before serving and topping with the fresh berries. Do not place the fresh berries on top longer than a day in advance of serving.