Also known as my DH's Birthday Cake!
Please don't let cheesecakes scare you - they are really quite simple (they scared me at first). Plus, if you want a recipe that won't crack this one is it - never once had a crack on top.
This is my husband's favorite cheesecake (sorry, but in honor of his birthday I must tell a story). He loves this particular recipe so much he refuses to eat commercial cheesecake anymore - even really good cheesecake. I started making cheesecakes for him when we first started dating. I asked him what his traditional birthday cake was (thinking how easy a nice little layer cake would be). His answer was his aunt's cheesecake. I took this to mean a home baked over the top cheesecake (snicker). So, scared out of my mind to make a cheesecake but completely determined to make it for my sweetie I purchased all the ingredients and made the New York style cheesecake on the graham cracker crumb box. It was delicious and oh how my boyfriend raved about the cheesecake (he totally ignored the little crack across the top - carefully covered with cherry pie filling). I thought he was just being nice because how could I compare to his aunt (who I was told was a tremendous cook)? Years and a few birthday cheesecakes later I found out his aunt's cheesecake was the Jello box mix with cherry pie filling (no offense to Jello - I love Jello but really that's not a baked cheesecake). Obviously I didn't have to try as hard to impress as I thought and he probably proposed just for my cheesecake skills :)
OK - on with the recipe (sidenote - this is an ISF 2nd Place Overall Cheesecake Division winner circa 2008 - so others think it's pretty good too):
Tips and tricks can be found below.
Carefully take a glass with a nice bottom rim and smooth bottom and sides. Even out the sides and run your finger across the top to get a nice even (height) crust all the way around.
Pour the batter in. The beating of the batter is where you will make or break the cheesecake. At the beginning when beating sugar and cream cheese - whip it good to get it smooth. When adding eggs beat well (until smooth) after each addition. If you don't have the nice scraper attachment on your mixer be sure to scrape the bowl down each time.
On the final addition of ingredients - DO NOT overbeat - just beat until combined then stop!
I don't get a dime to say this but I can't stress enough good vanilla and PURE extracts of any kind are key to wonderful taste! I'm pretty frugal but one place I splurge on my baking supplies are the extracts and flavorings.