1 3/4 cups ginger snap/vanilla wafer crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups maple sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons blackberry extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
To make the crust:
- Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has high sides. Mine is square.
- Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist.
- Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides.
- Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
- Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and truly creamy, about 5 minutes.
- With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla and blackberry extract.
- Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
- Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan.
- Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and open the door a crack.
- Allow the cheesecake to sit for another hour.
- After 1 hour, carefully remove from the oven and leet the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
- Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen sides.
- When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 6-8 hours, although overnight would be better.
- Remove springform sides. The easiest way to cut cheesecake is to use a long, thin knife that has been run under hot water and lightly wiped. Keep warming the knife as you cut slices of the cake.
- Wrapped well, the cake will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or for up to 2 months in the freezer. It’s best to defrost the still-wrapped cheesecake overnight in the refrigerator.