Weezie's Sour Cream Cheesecake with Strawberry Compote

Sour Cream Cheesecake from Jewish Table
  • Yield: 12 servings

My mother was famous for her cheesecakes; she used to make them for the chef at the first restaurant where I worked, who in turn sold them and turned a profit. I substituted mascarpone for some of the cream cheese she uses in this recipe, just to add an extra note of richness, but you could use all cream cheese if you prefer. The cake and compote must be made a day ahead to give it a chance to set. When serving, dip the blade of your knife into hot water and wipe it clean after cutting each slice. This gives you neat slices with crisp edges. —Chef Todd Gray, co-author of The New Jewish Table


2cups cream cheese (1 pound)
1 1/4cups mascarpone cheese (10 ounces)
1/4cup sugar, more for optional brûlé
1teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2teaspoon vanilla extract
3large eggs
1/2cup sour cream
2cups crushed graham crackers (about 30 crackers)
2 to 4tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Strawberry Compote
2cups strawberries
1/2cup sugar
1 vanilla bean pod


  1. Mix the filling: Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle on low speed, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, and ¼ cup of the sugar, the zest and vanilla in a large bowl just until smooth—about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the sour cream until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Prepare the crust: Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and lightly dust with flour, shaking out the excess. Place the crushed graham crackers in a medium bowl and gradually stir in the melted butter, adding only enough butter to coat all the crumbs. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, covering completely. Spoon the batter over the crumb crust, spreading to level.
  3. Bake the cheesecake: Place the cake pan in a slightly larger baking pan, and place on the middle rack in your oven. Pour water into the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cake is set—it should jiggle ever so slightly when gently shaken— for 30 to 40 minutes. Lift the cake pan out of the water bath and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely; refrigerate overnight. Makes one 9-inch round cake.
  4. To serve, run a knife around the inside of the springform pan to loosen the crust and then remove the sides from the pan. Slice the cake. If you wish, brule each slice by sprinkling the top with 2 tablespoons of sugar and then burning carefully with a blow torch just until a glaze forms; let cool for 2 minutes. Top each slice with a generous spoonful of Strawberry Compote and serve.

Strawberry Compote

  1. Hull 2 cups of strawberries and cut them in half. Combine them with ½ cup sugar in a medium saucepan.
  2. Split 1 vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape the seeds into the pan; stir to combine and then add the pod halves.
  3. Bring to simmering over medium high heat and cook until the sugar is melted and the berries are softened—for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat, remove the vanilla pods, and transfer the compote to a small bowl (or food storage container); cover and refrigerate until chilled. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Reprinted with permission from The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes (St. Martin’s Press, 2013).