Oh baby. I'm a cheesecake lover. And I've tried lots of different recipes, with various levels of success. But this one, is probably the best one I've ever made. And it's easy, don't get fooled by all those people who are scared of cheesecake. There are just a few simple tricks.
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1-1/2 pounds cream cheese
3 teaspoons vanilla
grated zest of one lemon
2 cups sour cream
The first trick is to make sure your cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature. This is actually crucial.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the graham cracker crumbs with 1/2 cup sugar and the melted butter, and press into bottom and sides of a 9 inch ungreased spring-form pan. Chill while preparing the filling.
Beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar till smooth. This is the second trick. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to get ALL the cream cheese and sugar mixed together. It must be completely smooth before you add any liquid or eggs. So now mix in the eggs, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and lemon zest until smooth. Pour into chilled crust and bake 50 minutes. But check often. The recipe says to bake for 50 minutes, but I actually took mine out at 40 minutes because the top was beginning to brown in spots, which is what you want. Remove from the oven (leave oven on) and cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack.
Stir together the sour cream, remainging 1/4 cup sugar, remaining teaspoon of vanilla and spread over cooled cake. Return to oven for 12 minutes until glossy and set.
Cool completely, cover and chill at least 8 hours.