Tell me your cheesecake secrets
January 27, 2017 5:51 AM   Subscribe

How do you get the perfect cheesecake base? Mine are distinctly lacking!

My cheesecake bases tend to be too crumbly whilst not being very crunchy. I feel like I must be missing the trick here. What type of biscuit is best? (I live in Europe so I can't find graham crackers.) What is the optimal butter to biscuit ratio? Do you prebake the crust? Is it something to do with the way you crush the biscuits and press them down? Help a baker out!
posted by Nilehorse to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I feel like I must be missing the trick here.

In general, there's only one trick you need to know in order to replicate the delicious results of commercial cookery at home:


though occasionally you might also need to invoke


in no particular order.

Commercial food vendors don't care two hoots about your waistline, which is why their stuff tastes better than yours.

This recipe generally works out nicely.
posted by flabdablet at 6:08 AM on January 27, 2017

The driest crunchiest cookie/biscuit you can find with a neutral flavor is your best bet. Do they have nilla wafers there?

You're looking for "wet sand" texture.. so I'd melt an excess of butter and then add it slowly until you have delicious wet sand.

Somethings I do: I pulverize the cookies in a food processor. I'm looking for small even crumbs. (I feel it's the easiest to eat) Add salted butter. Prebake the crust for 10 minutes.

You could try doubling the crust too. You might find a thicker crust also gives more crunch.
posted by INFJ at 6:22 AM on January 27, 2017

I like ginger nut biscuits as a cheesecake base, but that's maybe non-standard and I don't know how common they are outside the UK. Nice and dry/crumbly but with a bit of flavour.
posted by A Robot Ninja at 6:37 AM on January 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd try it with McVities Digestive Biscuits. I see them exported a lot.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:42 AM on January 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have never tried this, but I bet Biscoff cookies would make for an excellent bottom layer.
posted by mmascolino at 6:43 AM on January 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

I'm not sure how you feel about this, but it's perfectly acceptable to make a crustless cheesecake. Or. you could make a sponge base like my personal gold standard, from Junior's in Brookkyn.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:44 AM on January 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I also grind my biscuits in a food processor until they're dust-like. Then whizz in some melted butter and pack it into the pan. Judging by your name, I think you might be in the Netherlands, in which case you might try digestive biscuits, like these (or a generic version from Albert Heijn).
posted by stillmoving at 6:48 AM on January 27, 2017

Definitely, pre-bake the crust. It will allow it to crisp up and not be so soggy once the filling has been added.

This is the ratio I like for a 9-inch pie crust: 1 and 1/2 cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full sheet graham crackers), 6 Tablespoons (87g) unsalted butter, melted, and 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar. I bake for 10 minutes at 350F (177C). I prefer to break up my cookies into a food processor, for a more uniform crumb.

I've used shortbread cookies, chocolate wafers, digestive biscuits, and gingersnaps in lieu of the graham crackers with great success. If you go for a doubled-up crust for a cheesecake, or because you're a fan of extra crust, bake for 15 minutes instead of 10.
posted by PearlRose at 6:51 AM on January 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

My brother (who makes excellent cheesecake) makes a cookie dough, pats it into his springform pan, bakes it and then uses the one giant cookie that he just baked as the base of his cheesecake. He usually uses a plain butter/sugar cookie dough but the possibilities are endless.
posted by tippy at 6:59 AM on January 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

> Judging by your name, I think you might be in the Netherlands...

And now (thanks also to a bunch of colleagues just coming back from the Netherlands) I'm imagining a cheesecake on a giant stroopwaffel. Mmmmmmm, stroopwaffel...
posted by A Robot Ninja at 7:01 AM on January 27, 2017 [6 favorites]

Cook's Illustrated says that the ideal ratio is where the fat and sugar combined are about 35% of the weight of the cookie. The best substitute for graham crackers was animal crackers; Nilla wafers were too fatty. If you don't have animal crackers where you are, pick any cookie/biscuit that is relatively dry and not too sweet.

I think that Maria biscuits may have the right ratio -- although they are a bit fattier than animal crackers or graham crackers, so you could experiment with reducing the amount of butter.

Also, perhaps prebake the longer for a crunchier shell?
posted by yarly at 7:37 AM on January 27, 2017

I pulsed Oreos through my food processor to a pretty fine crumb, then add enough melted butter that the mix is wet but not actually sticky. IIRC from my last cheesecake, this was a small (13 oz?) pack of oreos and almost all of a stick of butter. I did not prebake.

Ginger snaps, or vanilla oreos might be a good substitute for a vanilla cake. My cake is deeply mocha to the point of being a black hole, because, well, because.

NB: put a 'boat' of tinfoil under the cheesecake in the oven, because some of that butter will leak out the springform. You REALLY don't want it to pool on the bottom of your oven, as it will fill the house with smoke the next time you turn the oven on.
posted by Dashy at 7:45 AM on January 27, 2017

Good guess stillmoving I am in the Netherlands! These suggestions are all great thank you.
posted by Nilehorse at 7:52 AM on January 27, 2017

You gotta prebake the shell. If you haven't been doing that, that's the first thing to try.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:25 AM on January 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also check your oven temperature.
posted by capricorn at 10:46 AM on January 27, 2017

Since you're in the Netherlands, I once made a cookie-butter cheesecake using speculaas cookies (+ butter) as the crust. Recommend!
posted by Empidonax at 11:41 AM on January 27, 2017

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