Make It Yours Cheesecake

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Serves 10 – 12
This is a wonderful basic cheesecake that I love to spruce up with wonderful stir-ins, mix-ins, and sauces. Use any combination that you like.

1 ¾ cups crushed graham cracker, ginger snaps, vanilla wafers, or chocolate sandwich cookies
¼ cup finely chopped almonds, walnuts or macadamia nuts
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground allspice, cinnamon, ginger or apple pie spice (optional) – choose one or two
½ cup butter, melted
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, peppermint extract, almond extract, lemon zest or orange zest (choose one or two)
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Optional Stir-Ins, Swirl-Ins, and Sauces:
Chocolate-swirl-cheesecake
Stir-ins: 1 cup semi-sweet, bittersweet, or milk chocolate pieces
3 ounces white chocolate, chopped or 1 cup berries, chopped

Chocolate-swirl-cheesecake2
Swirl-ins: 4 ounces chocolate, chopped and melted and 2 tablespoons whipping cream, or 1 cup fresh berries, pureed and pressed through a sieve

Chocolate-swirl-cheesecake3
Sauce: Caramel sauce, berry sauce, chocolate sauce

Preheat oven to 350.
For crust: In a bowl, combine crushed crackers, nuts, 1 tablespoon sugar, and if using, the spices. Stir in melted butter. Press mixture onto bottom and 1 ½ inches up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

For filling, in a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream and 1 cup sugar, flour and vanilla (or other extract). Beat with mixer on low, until combined. Stir in eggs and if desired a stir-in.

Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Place pan in a shallow baking pan, if using a swirl-in, drop by small spoonfuls onto filling. Use a narrow metal spatula to gently swirl the addition into a marbled appearance (don’t cut into the crust, just swirl it around filling). Bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until it appears set but slightly jiggly.

Cool in springform wan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a sharp knife, loosen crust from sides of pan. Cool for 30 more minutes. Gently, remove sides of pan, cool an additional 2 hours. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

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