This cheesecake is an ideal hot-weather dessert, because although it contains some rich ingredients, it has a light texture and lovely lemon flavor. Plus, it requires hardly any baking (just a quick 8 to 10 minutes for the crust), and can be made a day ahead of serving (though I wouldn’t put the preserves or berries on until the day you plan to serve it). Feel free to swap the raspberries for sliced strawberries, arranging them in overlapping rows across the top of the cake.
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) honey-flavored graham cracker crumbs (12 whole graham crackers)
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (242 grams) whole milk, divided
- 2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
- 12 ounces (340 grams) Philadelphia cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (232 grams) heavy cream
- 1 cup (242 grams) sour cream
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1/3 cup (101 grams) seedless raspberry preserves
- Three 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting top of cake
Make the crust:
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Pat the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool the crust completely.
Make the cheesecake filling:
- Place 1/2 cup of the milk in a small container. Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and set aside to soften.
- Place the remaining 1/2 cup milk, the sugar, and cream cheese in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the cream cheese melts and the mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the milk and gelatin mixture and whisk until the gelatin is dissolved. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Place the bowl in a larger bowl filled one-third of the way with ice water and let it sit, whisking occasionally, until completely cool. Meanwhile, continue with step #4.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the cream, sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla extract at high speed until the mixture just begins to form soft peaks. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the cooled cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream mixture. Scrape the filling into the prepared pan, smooth the top so that it is even, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until set.
Make the raspberry topping:
- Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator. Run a sharp, thin-bladed knife under hot water and wipe it dry. Run the knife between the cake and the side of the pan, to loosen the cake (run the knife under the water and wipe it dry a few times, to keep the knife hot). Carefully remove the side of the springform pan. Place the cake on a serving plate or cake stand.
- Put the preserves in a small bowl and stir vigorously to liquefy. Disperse the preserves in evenly spaced spoonfuls over the top of the cake, then, using a small offset metal spatula, smooth it into an even layer that covers the top.
- Starting from the center, arrange the raspberries in concentric circles over the jam, covering the top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.
- To serve, cut the cheesecake with a sharp, thin-bladed knife, dipping the blade in hot water and wiping it dry after each slice. Dust the top of each slice lightly with sifted confectioners’ sugar before serving.