This cherry cheesecake recipe made many, many appearances over the years. It met all her criteria: It tastes good, it's easy to make and it looks like a showstopper. Most importantly, we all loved it. I baked this cheesecake to remember her on Mother's Day, but you can enjoy this cake for any special occasion. We certainly did.
Mom's Cherry Cheesecake
Makes one 9-inch cake
For the crust
1 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (made from about 1 1/2 sleeves of graham crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
(Optional): 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
For the cake
Three 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (do not use evaporated milk)
8 oz. carton of sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Store-bought cherry pie filling
Make the crust
Use a food processor to chop the graham crackers into fine crumbs and to grind the nuts (if using). Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter and nuts (if using). Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Set aside.
Make the cake
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually mix in sweetened condensed milk. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla until smooth. Pour in prepared pan. Place pan on top of a cookie sheet to avoid leakage. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until slightly brown along the edge. Center will be slightly soft. Turn off the oven, open the door and let cake cool inside for about an hour. Chill overnight. Garnish with cherries.