Cheesecake is a heavenly creamy, sinfully rich dessert that seems more the consistency of pie than cake and is always a favorite during the holidays. The dessert can be served any time of the year, though, and is often requested for special occasions. It is a quite simple and quick recipe to prepare.

The crust of a cheese is a graham cracker crust and can be purchased ready made. However, it only takes about ten minutes to prepare your own graham cracker crust.

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 Cups graham cracker crumbs

6 Tablespoons butter

1/4 Cup sugar

DIRECTIONS:

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

* Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

* In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir to mix well.

* Add the butter and blend all ingredients together with your hand. Press the pie crust into a pie pan.

* Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool before proceeding with the cheesecake mixture.

For pie recipes, you can add nutmeg, cinnamon, or all-spice to the graham cracker crumbs to add flavor to the crust.

CHEESECAKE

INGREDIENTS:

1 eight ounce package Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1 fourteen ounce can Eagle Brand Condensed Sweet Milk

1/3 Cup fresh lemon juice (or use ReaLemon bottled juice)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 Cup graham cracker crumbs

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon butter

DIRECTIONS:

* Allow cream cheese to stand in package at room temperature until softened. This usually takes approximately one hour.

* In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy.

* Beat in the sweetened condensed milk.

* Add lemon juice and vanilla extract. Stir until the ingredients are well mixed.

* Pour into the pie crust

* To garnish, melt the tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan.

* Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a shallow bowl and stir.

* Slowly add drops of the melted butter and mix with a fork just until graham cracker crumbs are lightly moistened. Sprinkle the mixture with fingers across the top of the cheesecake.

* Chill several hours prior to serving.

If desired, you can use cherry or strawberry pie filling for a topping. Apple pie filling is also good with cheesecake. Some prefer a topping and others do not. During the holidays or any time when entertaining guests, I serve the desserts buffet style. Therefore, I provide the topping in a small serving dish beside the cheesecake and allow each individual to make the choice whether to use topping or have their cheesecake plain.

Reference:
1. Cheesecake
2. Cheesecake Recipe : Food Network Kitchen : Food Network