I grew up in a house with no air conditioning, and the idea of baking something on a hot summer day was absolutely repulsive to my mom. This cake would have been perfect. It has a great flavor and is big enough to serve at least ten people.
I actually found this recipe in an old Martha Stewart Kids Magazine (a moment of silence, please, for one of the best children’s magazines ever–wish it were still in print). This recipe was so simple, and so perfect the way it was originally written, I have adapted it very little. I did add some cream to the recipe, mostly to give the cake a little more loft and lightness. However, I don’t know if many people actually have cream on hand at the fridge, so if you don’t want to add it, feel free to leave it out.
20 sheets graham crackers (about 2 packages), crushed
12 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons sugar
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese at room temperature
juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup cream (optional)
1. Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Freeze for about 20 minutes.
2. To make the filling, use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese, lemon juice, and vanilla. When it is well mixed, add in the condensed milk, a tiny bit at a time with the mixer on low (if you add it in all at once, you’ll get lumps, so easy does it), until it is all incorporated and smooth. If you are adding in the cream, use the same method, by adding a little at a time. Beat the mixture for about 3 minutes more. Pour cream cheese mixture into the chilled crust. Place cheese cake in the refrigerator for 3 hours to firm up (you can jog it along by putting it in the freezer for awhile, too).
3. To release the cake from the pan, you may want to run the sides of the pan under hot water for a few seconds—being careful not to get the cake wet—and then use the release clip.