Recipe: Jar Cheesecakes with Raspberry Sauce

Classic, original cheesecake can be a total standout dessert to me...when it's done right. I've had my fair share of below average cheesecakes that I cannot untaste, but the handful that have knocked it out of the park, will never be forgotten. One of them being my sister's friend's cheesecake. He has his own cheesecake business and has ruined all other cheesecake for me. They are, frankly, the best cheesecakes I've ever had. But I forgive him. He can't help having the gift of making ridiculously good cheesecakes.

In my humble opinion, this New York Cheesecake recipe rivals my sister's friend's cheesecake. It originates from Jim Fobel's Old-Fashioned Baking Book which The James Beard Foundation said was "one of the best cookbooks of the year." Granted that was in '96, but still, it must be pretty legit. The crust recipe comes from Momufuku's Milk Bar Cookbook. I've made it once when it was called for in the Compost Cookie recipe, and I couldn't stop eating it. I knew it was bound for greater things. As for the Raspberry Sauce, I'm usually anti-fruit sauce on dessert, but I thought it'd be worth a shot because A: maybe homemade sauce tastes better and B: it would be a pretty nice topper (harley) for the jar.

So why bake it in a jar? Well, first of all, I think glass jars make for a cool presentation and secondly, they don't have to bake as long as the pan recipe does, which is TWO HOURS! That's a long time to wait for dessert. Too long one might say.

Graham Crust
Yield: Makes about 340 g (2 Cups)
Recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar

190 g (1 1/2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
25 g (2 tbs) sugar
3 g (3/4 tsp) kosher salt
55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
55 g (1/4 cup) heavy cream

1.  Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.
2.  Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ table- spoons) butter and mix it in.
3.  The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of mixture into each jar and pack it down using the back of the tablespoon or a fork. It should be about ¾ inch thick.

Note: Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

New York Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from Jim Fobel's Old-Fashioned Baking Book
Yield: 8, 13 oz jars

5 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups (one pint) sour cream, room temperature
4, 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

For the springform pan directions, go here
1.  Position the baking rack in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 300* Fahrenheit.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sour cream until well blended.
3.  In a medium-sized bowl, beat the cream cheese with the butter until smooth and creamy.  Add this to the egg-sour cream mixture and beat until smooth. 
4.  Add the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest and beat thoroughly, about 2 minutes. 
5.  Pour batter into jars until about ¾ of the way full. Place jars into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the pan until halfway up the sides of the jars. Pro Tip(s): Line a towel on the bottom of the pan to keep the ramekins from sliding. Also, have a tea kettle ready with the hot water and pour in with the pan pulled out on the oven rack.
6.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes, the edges will appear to be set, but the center will still have a little jiggle to it. Pro Tip: How to know when it's done? Jiggle test! Knock the side of the jar, if it jiggles and then stops right away, then it's done. (center will firm as they cool).
7.  Let stand at room temperature on a cooling rack until completely cool, about 1 hour.
8.  Refrigerate, covered, until well chilled. For best flavor and texture, this cheesecake is best chilled overnight.

My Notes:  If you don't let the first 4 ingredients in this recipe come to room temperature, the batter will be lumpy. The first time I made this, I waited until they were at the correct temp, but this time, I did not and it was indeed lumpy. Ah vell.

Raspberry Sauce
Recipe from

2 packages (6 ounces or 1 1/3 cup each) Driscoll's Raspberries
1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1.  Puree raspberries in a blender or food processor until smooth.
2.  Press through a mesh sieve to remove seeds over a measuring cup.
3.  Add enough water to make 1 cup, if necessary.
4.  Whisk raspberry puree, sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan until blended.
5.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
6.  Spoon over cheesecake, top with remaining raspberries and dust with confectioners' sugar.