Eli’s Chicago Cheesecake Recipe
I usually buy my books online since they are typically much cheaper than in the stores, but my wife got a gift certificate to Borders for Christmas so we were walking though one the other day. They usually have some clearance cookbooks up front but they aren’t typically my style. On this day, though, there was a copy of Cook’s Illustrated‘s “Restaurant Favorites” for $4.95. I scooped it up and immediately began flipping through when I got home.
The first thing I noticed was the recipe for Eli’s Chicago-Style Cheesecake. My wife is a native Chicagoan and always extolled the virtues of Eli’s over any other cheesecake, so I had to give the recipe a try. I served it to a bunch of cheesecake aficionados and they were thoroughly impressed, especially with the shortbread crust. Dare I say that we preferred its lighter texture to the very dense and rich versions from New York? The recipe was terribly easy to put together, so I suggest you give it a try for yourself!
eli’s chicago-style cheesecake recipe
6 TB unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks
1/4 cup (1 ounce) confectioners’ sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon (my addition — optional, but delicious)
1 TB all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
2 large eggs
melted butter for greasing the pan
1. For the crust: In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and the salt and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
2. Empty the mixture into an 8-inch springform pan (I used an 8 1/2″ pan with no problems) and press it evenly into the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Wash the mixer bowl and paddle.
3. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the chilled crust several times with a fork and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, maintaining the oven temperature at 350.
4. For the filling: In a standing mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-low speed to break it up and soften it, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and paddle. Add half the sugar and the lemon zest (if using) and beat on medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Beat in the remaining sugar, flour, and salt until combined, another minute. Scrape the bowl. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat for a minute. Add the yolk and beat for another minute. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and beat for a minute after each addition, scraping down the bowl and paddle as necessary.
5. Brush the sides of the cooled springform pan with melted butter. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills. Pour the filling onto the cooled crust and bake until the cheesecake is firm around the edges and barely jiggles in the center, around 50-60 minutes (check at 40 if you are using a larger pan). An instant-read thermometer should register 150F. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 3 hours then wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 4 days.
6. Unmold the cheesecake about 30 minutes before you want to serve it. Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream and/or some fresh strawberries.