The title of the recipe on the King Arthur Flour blog didn't lie: THE FASTEST, EASIEST CHEESECAKE EVER, it promised in all caps—and delivered. Since the recipe was first published in 2009, it's been my go-to for every single event for which I'm expected to produce a dessert. See, I'm not a baker; I don't have the patience or precision necessary to create elaborate three-layer cakes or perfect puff pastry. And I certainly don't have the interest in setting up the bain-marie or fancy water bath that's often called for in cheesecake recipes. But when I whip out this dessert at a party, suddenly people think I'm Martha Stewart, when really I'm Sandra Lee on a good day.
A word of caution: This recipe produces a very creamy, slightly dense cheesecake that's quite different from the ricotta-infused cakes that are firmer and lighter. You may be tempted to try and whip your cream cheese and eggs into something fluffier; this is a mistake. Your cheesecake will rise beautifully in the oven and collapse into a mess the moment it starts to cool on the counter. Follow the King Arthur Flour folks' tips precisely and you'll have a Martha-esque masterpiece every time...and in only 30 minutes.
You, too, can be a Martha mimic with this recipe—it's all in how you interpret it. The great thing about this recipe is how basic the base filling is, and how interchangeable its toppings and cookie crust are. Instead of reproducing the entire King Arthur Flour recipe here, which just seems rude, here are a few suggestions for pairing exciting flavors in your cookie crust and topping:
Crust: crushed Oreo cookies
Topping: bittersweet chocolate sauce to balance out the sweetness
Crust: chai-flavored cookies (I like these)
Topping: toasted hazelnuts
Crust: vanilla wafers
Topping: something bold—since everything else is now vanilla—like cherries cooked down in Madeira wine or bananas and brown sugar cooked down in dark rum; your dense, creamy cheesecake can stand up to it
Crust: salted pretzels
Topping: strawberries and whipped cream (à la this classic dessert salad); you could also attempt some sort of peanut butter/chocolate combination, but I've found peanut butter doesn't vibe well with this particular cheesecake recipe
Crust: lemon snaps
Topping: blackberry compôte with lemon zest (and thyme or sage, if you're feeling feisty)
Crust: ginger snaps
Topping: fresh raspberries with a drizzle of raspberry jam (just heat it up a bit first to achieve maximum drizzle)