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Junior's Famous No.1 Cheesecake

No recipe image available.Pure cream cheesecake—the best of the best. If you ever find yourself in Brooklyn you might consider stopping by the famed Junior's restaurant on Flatbush Avenue at the corner of DeKalb. Their cheesecake is as renowned as the restaurant itself, sold by mail order and the cable shopping channel QVC, it's become a cheesecake by which all others are judged.

Recipe Ingredients:

For Thin Sponge Cake Layer:
1/2 cup cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 extra-large eggs, separated
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 drops pure lemon extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For Cream Cheese Filling:
4 (8-ounce) packages regular cream cheese, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Cooking Directions:

  1. For Thin Sponge Cake Layer: One suggestion: keep an eye on this cake while it bakes. There's not much batter, so it needs only about 10 minutes of baking—only enough time for the cake to turn light golden and set on the top.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°F) and generously butter a 9-inch springform pan. Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the egg yolks together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed for 3 minutes. Then, with the mixer still running, gradually add the 1/3 cup of the sugar and continue beating until thick light-yellow ribbons form in the bowl, about 5 minutes more. Beat in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
  4. Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand until no more white flecks appear. Then blend in the butter.
  5. In a clean bowl, using clean dry beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together on high speed until frothy. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form (the whites should stand up in stiff peaks but not be dry). Stir about 1/3 cup of the whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining whites -- don't worry if a few white specks remain.
  6. Gently spoon the batter into the pan. Bake the cake just until the center of the cake springs back when lightly touched, only about 10 minutes (watch carefully). Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack while you continue making the cheesecake filling. Do not remove the cake from the pan. While cake cools, make Cream Cheese Filling.
  7. For Cream Cheese Filling: Place one 8-ounce package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Then beat in the remaining 3 packages of cream cheese.
  8. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat in the remaining 1 1/3 cups of the sugar, then beat in the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating the batter well after adding each one. Blend in the heavy cream. At this point mix the filling only until completely blended (just like they do at Junior's). Be careful not to over mix the batter.
  9. Gently spoon the cheese filling on top of the baked sponge cake layer. Place the springform pan in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1-inch up the sides of the pan. Bake the cheesecake until the center barely jiggles when you shake the pan, about 1 hour.
  10. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 1 hour. Then cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it's completely cold, at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Slide the cake off the bottom of the pan onto a serving plate. Or if you wish, simply leave the cake on the removable bottom of the pan and place it on a serving plate. If any cake is left over, cover it with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Source: From the cookbook, "Welcome to Junior's! Remembering Brooklyn With Recipes and Memories from Its Favorite Restaurant".