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Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

March 19, 2021

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

These Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake is the best rendition of an old-time favorite with a real twist! This recipe is the perfect sweet treat that comes ultra creamy with a drool-worthy strawberry topping and is super easy to whip together, even for a beginner!

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

New York-Style Cheesecake was one of the first things that I learned to bake after moving to NYC at the age of 13. In my later years of High School, I began experimenting with cheesecake after trying the famous Junior’s Cheesecake in Brooklyn as a way to replicate the goodness of such a sweet dessert.

Granted, making cheesecake for me back then meant using store-bought crust and canned topping. Haha. 

Obviously, things have changed since teaching myself how to make this delicious dessert from scratch and if I’m honest—I can never go back from homemade.

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

Homemade or Store-bought

What do I love most about baking from scratch? Not only does it mean that it’s so much more delicious when you make desserts from scratch, BUT it means that you truly are able to evolve into something that you never thought you could, once you keep trying and cultivating your skills.

I know—-you must be wondering how did I become so deep over a mere slice of cheesecake? Haha. Sorry. I just wanted to share a little back story and word of encouragement!

So, back to the sweets! OK. I’ve been a real, true lover of cheesecake for years! If you’ve been an avid reader of Orchids + Sweet Tea, then you’re probably already aware of how this love even begun.

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

Moving to NYC at the age of 13 was such a huge transition (in more ways than one), but more importantly, the food was a major transition. You’re talking flavorful burgers, roti shops, brick oven pizzas, cheesecakes, and so much more that I wasn’t use to living in the South.

Fast forward to a year or two later, when I first introduced to my first real slice of Cheesecake and never putting down a fork whenever I see one close enough to grab a bite. Haha. Yup. My obsession is that real!

Don’t believe me? Checkout these Mini Salted Caramel Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bites, which are one of my faves! They will leave you reminiscing on a nice slice of apple pie with a crunchy, sweet streusel topping.

Oh and then there are these Southerner’s Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bites, which of course pays a great homage to the ultimate dessert that I grew up eating ALL the time—- Banana pudding!

Flashback to last year during my Birthday when I decided to make these Mango Cheesecake + Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust instead of a Birthday Cake, because I just love doing things differently. I definitely have regrets because they turned out perfect!

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

However, if you’re into a full bite of flavor and delicious combos, then this decadent Sweet Potato Caramel Cheesecake is a must-try dessert recipe for anyone who loves the warming flavors of pecan pie.

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

What Makes this New York-Style Cheesecake Not So Traditional?

Whelp, for one—I chose not to go the traditional Graham Cracker Crust route with this recipe because I wanted to add a nice, saltier flavor, but more importantly, I wanted to keep things healthier. Instead, I made my crust out of organic Graham Crackers and walnuts with a hint of cinnamon.

Using a food processor gets the job done a thousand times faster and efficient. Just a minute or 2 of pulsing and wallah!

Then of course, to keep things healthier for my forte, I chose to use less dairy products (while ensuring that they were organic too) to build the cheesecake part of things (the body if you will).

Most recipes use cream cheese, sour cream, AND heavy cream. However, if you’ve been an avid reader then you’re already aware that I try to reduce or cut out dairy completely, on a daily basis. Therefore, I chose to use a healthier version of cream cheese—Organic Valley (which I highly recommend!) as well as Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

I completely opted out for the heavy cream and used a bit of lemon juice instead. A hint of acidy definitely kicks things off! Now, to top things off, I chose to make my trusted Strawberry Compote, which is so easy to make and versatile, if you’re really into Strawberries!

Overall, everything just added a nice bite to the whole thing and there’s never too much strawberry, so of course, you can either add fresh strawberries on top or additional pieces of Graham Crackers.

Homemade Strawberry Compote Topping

INGREDIENTS

  • Strawberries. You can use fresh or frozen for the compote.
  • Sugar. I love using organic cane sugar as a great granulated type.
  • Lemon Juice. Adding acidity to your compote helps to break things down and activate the reaction for your strawberries to create a nice glaze-like texture.
  • Vanilla. A hint of vanilla highlights the sweetness of the strawberries.
  • Fresh Water. Adds more of a liquid base to the compote.
  • Agave or Starch. This is the perfect way to thicken your compote so that it spoons like a nice glaze.

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

INSTRUCTIONS

WALNUT GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 7 or 8-inch cheesecake pan by lightly greasing it with butter.
  • Grind the walnuts + graham crackers, until almost finely ground (it’s OK to leave a few medium chunks, if your’e a lover a little crunch!). Combine the Walnut-Graham cracker mixture, cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter in a small bowl and mix with a spatula until well incorporated.
  • Add the mixture into the prepared pan and press down into the bottom with your fingers (focusing on the middle) to ensure that it’s perfectly covering the bottom and sides (like a deep well).
  • Bake the crust for about 5 minutes and then remove from oven and allow it to cool until you’re ready to use.

NEW YORK-STYLE CHEESECAKE:

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together on low speed: the cream cheese, sugar, and flour until combined. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl if needed.
  • Next, add the vanilla extract and the first egg and beat slowly until mostly combined. Then add the remaining egg and mix until well combined, still mixing everything on low speed. Now, add the yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and continue mixing.
  • Change mixer attachment to a whisk and beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or so until completely smooth and lump-free.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan until 3/4 filled. NOTE: Leaving a bit of room at the top prevents the cheesecake from spilling over while baking.
  • Bake the cheesecake for 35-40 minutes (until center comes out mostly clean when tested with a toothpick or knife), then turn off the oven and allow it to sit in the oven for another 5 minutes with the oven door halfway open to avoid cheesecake from deflating. NOTE: When baking, I always prepare a medium pot with water and add it to the oven as well, to keep cheesecake temperature even and to add moisture.

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

How to Keep Cheesecake from Cracking

I have a few tricks to prevent cracks in a cheesecake:

  • I recommend placing a pot or baking dish of water in the oven when the cheesecake cooks. The steam evaporates and helps the custard cook evenly all the way through. Otherwise, if your cooking environment is too dry, the edges may cook quickly and dry out before the center cooks through, which can cause cracking. 
  • After the cheesecake is done baking, turn the oven off and leave the cake inside for five minutes with the door halfway open.
  • Then remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for up to 15 minutes on a wire rack.
  • When it’s fully cooled out of the cake pan, wrap the cake with plastic wrap and let it set in the fridge. If you have time, the cheesecake will have the best texture if it chills in the fridge overnight. 

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake Bites

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
Serves: 8 servings
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Ingredients

WALNUT GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:

  • 2 cups Graham crackers, chopped (About 12-14 Graham Crackers)
  • 1 cup shelled walnuts (Add more if desired; just reduce Graham Crackers amount; See Notes!)
  • 3 Tbsps organic brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4-5 Tbsps unsalted butter, melted

CHEESECAKE:

  • 16 ozs. organic cream cheese, softened at room temp. (That's 2 packs!)
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 4 Tbsps organic all-purpose flour
  • 2 large organic eggs, at room temp. 
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsps Greek yogurt (You can also use sour cream)
  • 1 tsp juice of a lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

STRAWBERRY COMPOTE TOPPING:

  • 3 cups diced strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 2 Tbsps lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Arrowroot or Cornstarch + 3 Tbsps WARM water

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:

  • Sliced strawberries

Instructions

WALNUT GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 7 or 8-inch cheesecake pan by lightly greasing it with butter.
  • Grind the walnuts + graham crackers, until almost finely ground (it’s OK to leave a few medium chunks, if your’e a lover a little crunch!). Combine the Walnut-Graham cracker mixture, cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter in a small bowl and mix with a spatula until well incorporated.
  • Add the mixture into the prepared pan and press down into the bottom with your fingers (focusing on the middle) to ensure that it’s perfectly covering the bottom and sides (like a deep well).
  • Bake the crust for about 5 minutes and then remove from oven and allow it to cool until you’re ready to use.

CHEESECAKE + ASSEMBLY:

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together on low speed: the cream cheese, sugar, and flour until combined. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl if needed.
  • Next, add the vanilla extract and the first egg and beat slowly until mostly combined. Then add the remaining egg and mix until well combined, still mixing everything on low speed. Now, add the yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and continue mixing.
  • Change mixer attachment to a whisk and beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or so until completely smooth and lump-free.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan until 3/4 filled. NOTE: Leaving a bit of room at the top prevents the cheesecake from spilling over while baking.
  • Bake the cheesecake for 35-40 minutes (until center comes out mostly clean when tested with a toothpick or knife), then turn off the oven and allow it to sit in the oven for another 5 minutes with the oven door halfway open to avoid cheesecake from deflating. NOTE: When baking, I always prepare a medium pot with water and add it to the oven as well, to keep cheesecake temperature even and to add moisture.
  • In the meantime, make your strawberry compote.

STRAWBERRY COMPOTE TOPPING:

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add all ingredients (except for Arrowroot/cornstarch), mixing everything together. Bring everything to a boil and lower heat to simmer until the strawberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Now, mix 1 tsp Arrowroot/cornstarch in a small bowl with 3 Tbsps warm water until smooth and 'milk-like'. Add starch mixture to saucepan with strawberries and stir together using a rubber spatula until sauce begins to thicken. Once strawberries have softened and sauce thickens remove from heat and let cool completely.
  • Once done, remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to continue to cool for another 15-20 minutes, before putting it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  • Once cheesecake has fully chilled, top with strawberry compote, and additional toasted fresh sliced strawberries, if desired. Slice and enjoy.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

STORAGE: Leftover Cheesecake can be stored (tightly wrapped) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For best results, keep cheesecake in the freezer until the night before you’re ready to serve. Defrost by refrigerating.
STORAGE (STRAWBERRY COMPOTE): Leftover strawberry compote can be stored in a tightly sealed mason jar for up to two weeks. 
CHEESECAKE BITES: If you turn this recipe into cheesecake bites, you’ll make about 2 dozen bites.

DID YOU MAKE THIS recipe?

Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea

If you choose to make this Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake Bites recipe or any other recipe from us, be sure to tag us on Instagram at #Orchidsandsweettea so that we can share the love!

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake Bites

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
Serves: 8 servings
Print It Pin It

Ingredients

WALNUT GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:

  • 2 cups Graham crackers, chopped (About 12-14 Graham Crackers)
  • 1 cup shelled walnuts (Add more if desired; just reduce Graham Crackers amount; See Notes!)
  • 3 Tbsps organic brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4-5 Tbsps unsalted butter, melted

CHEESECAKE:

  • 16 ozs. organic cream cheese, softened at room temp. (That's 2 packs!)
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 4 Tbsps organic all-purpose flour
  • 2 large organic eggs, at room temp. 
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsps Greek yogurt (You can also use sour cream)
  • 1 tsp juice of a lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

STRAWBERRY COMPOTE TOPPING:

  • 3 cups diced strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 2 Tbsps lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Arrowroot or Cornstarch + 3 Tbsps WARM water

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:

  • Sliced strawberries

Instructions

WALNUT GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 7 or 8-inch cheesecake pan by lightly greasing it with butter.
  • Grind the walnuts + graham crackers, until almost finely ground (it’s OK to leave a few medium chunks, if your’e a lover a little crunch!). Combine the Walnut-Graham cracker mixture, cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter in a small bowl and mix with a spatula until well incorporated.
  • Add the mixture into the prepared pan and press down into the bottom with your fingers (focusing on the middle) to ensure that it’s perfectly covering the bottom and sides (like a deep well).
  • Bake the crust for about 5 minutes and then remove from oven and allow it to cool until you’re ready to use.

CHEESECAKE + ASSEMBLY:

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together on low speed: the cream cheese, sugar, and flour until combined. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl if needed.
  • Next, add the vanilla extract and the first egg and beat slowly until mostly combined. Then add the remaining egg and mix until well combined, still mixing everything on low speed. Now, add the yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and continue mixing.
  • Change mixer attachment to a whisk and beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or so until completely smooth and lump-free.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan until 3/4 filled. NOTE: Leaving a bit of room at the top prevents the cheesecake from spilling over while baking.
  • Bake the cheesecake for 35-40 minutes (until center comes out mostly clean when tested with a toothpick or knife), then turn off the oven and allow it to sit in the oven for another 5 minutes with the oven door halfway open to avoid cheesecake from deflating. NOTE: When baking, I always prepare a medium pot with water and add it to the oven as well, to keep cheesecake temperature even and to add moisture.
  • In the meantime, make your strawberry compote.

STRAWBERRY COMPOTE TOPPING:

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add all ingredients (except for Arrowroot/cornstarch), mixing everything together. Bring everything to a boil and lower heat to simmer until the strawberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Now, mix 1 tsp Arrowroot/cornstarch in a small bowl with 3 Tbsps warm water until smooth and 'milk-like'. Add starch mixture to saucepan with strawberries and stir together using a rubber spatula until sauce begins to thicken. Once strawberries have softened and sauce thickens remove from heat and let cool completely.
  • Once done, remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to continue to cool for another 15-20 minutes, before putting it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  • Once cheesecake has fully chilled, top with strawberry compote, and additional toasted fresh sliced strawberries, if desired. Slice and enjoy.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

STORAGE: Leftover Cheesecake can be stored (tightly wrapped) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For best results, keep cheesecake in the freezer until the night before you’re ready to serve. Defrost by refrigerating.
STORAGE (STRAWBERRY COMPOTE): Leftover strawberry compote can be stored in a tightly sealed mason jar for up to two weeks. 
CHEESECAKE BITES: If you turn this recipe into cheesecake bites, you'll make about 2 dozen bites.

DID YOU MAKE THIS recipe?

Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea

Not So Classic New York-Style Cheesecake.

ORCHIDS + SWEET TEA

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    • Thanks so much, Michelle! Yes, I so love the bite-size—that way you can eat two or three and feel less guilty! Haha.

  1. The PERFECT dessert in my opinion!! I love how you cut some of the calories and made them a little healthier too – I love all Organic Valley products!

  2. These little cheesecakes are so darling! I love tiny, individual servings of something that we’re used to seeing larger. That strawberry topping sounds delicious, and is so perfect for Valentine’s Day — especially since strawberries are so reminiscent of hearts.

    • I so agree, Valentina! I always make the original big version of cheesecakes (or I use to!). But now, I’m hooked on making them bite-sized and enjoy them more this way! And yes, strawberries are reminiscent of hearts—such a great analogy! Happy early Valentine’s Day!