For the Crust
5 ounces graham crackers (9 whole crackers), broken up into large pieces
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons gelatin
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at cool room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cook’s note: Don’t skip the prebaking of the crust since unbaked graham cracker crusts turn soggy. Be sure that the cream cheese is at room temperature before starting this recipe. Cold cream cheese will NOT whip properly.
For the crust: Heat the oven to 325 degrees and adjust a rack to the center position. Pulse crackers and sugar in food processor until evenly and finely ground. (Alternatively you can place the graham crackers in a zipper-lock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.) Transfer the crumbs to a medium-sized bowl and drizzle with the melted butter. Mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan and, using your hand, spread the crumbs into an even layer. Using a flat-bottomed measuring cup or drinking glass, press the crumbs into the pan bottom. Bake until lightly browned around the edges, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack while you make the filling.
Place the lemon juice in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over and let sit for a minute. Cook over low heat until dissolved, about a minute. Set aside. Place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip into stiff peaks. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. (You do not have to wash the mixing bowl.) Place the cream cheese into the now-empty mixing bowl. Beat on medium until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat on medium high until light, about 3 minutes. Add the sour cream and beat until well incorporated, about 30 seconds longer. Add the gelatin mixture and the whipped cream and beat until homogenous, about 30 seconds. Pour mixture into springform pan and refrigerate until well chilled and set at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
To serve, dip a sponge or tea towel in hot water and hold against the sides of the spring form pan rotating the pan and re-dipping the sponge for even coverage. Run a thin knife along the inside edge before removing the side of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve.
Makes one 9-inch cake