How do I describe Eli's Chicago-style cheesecake? It the simplest form, it's denser and richer than most types of cheesecakes. The taste is quite unique and I can't think of another type of cheesecake that can compare. Another thing that makes Eli's cheesecakes so unique is the shortbread crust! Cheesecake + shortbread = winning!
In the past couple of years, I have really grown an infatuation for cheesecake but nothing really hits the spot like Eli's. So, I set out on a pursuit for a homemade Eli's cheesecake recipe...and I did! I knew it had to be close to the real thing because one time, I looked on a box of Eli's cheesecake recipe and wrote down the ingredients. I was surprised to find sour cream to be in the recipe. When I came across this recipe from The Zen Kitchen, I saw sour cream listed as an ingredient. I actually found this recipe years ago but as odd as it seems, I was a little terrified that I would just be disappointed. That, and the fact that I had never made a cheesecake before. I decided to face my fears and try, and good thing that I did!
This recipe hit so close to home, no pun intended. While it was a lot of work, it was a complete success and most definitely worth the time. I made my own homemade sea salt caramel (recipe not included) and it was the perfect icing on the (cheese) cake!
Give this a try and you'll never want to eat any other cheesecake! You've been warned! To The Zen Kitchen, thank you for being brilliant!
Eli's Chicago-Style Cheesecake Copycat
compliments of The Zen Kitchen
6 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into chunks
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1-1/2 pounds of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
2 large eggs
butter for greasing pans
For the crust
1. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and the salt and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
2. Empty the mixture into an 8-inch springform pan (I used an 8 1/2″ pan with no problems) and press it evenly into the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Wash the mixer bowl and paddle.
3. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the chilled crust several times with a fork and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, maintaining the oven temperature at 350.
For the filling:
4. In a standing mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-low speed to break it up and soften it, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and paddle. Add half the sugar and the lemon zest (if using) and beat on medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Beat in the remaining sugar, flour, and salt until combined, another minute. Scrape the bowl. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat for a minute. Add the yolk and beat for another minute. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and beat for a minute after each addition, scraping down the bowl and paddle as necessary.
5. Brush the sides of the cooled springform pan with melted butter. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills. Pour the filling onto the cooled crust and bake until the cheesecake is firm around the edges and barely jiggles in the center, around 50-60 minutes (check at 40 if you are using a larger pan). An instant-read thermometer should register 150F. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 3 hours then wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 4 days.
6. Unmold the cheesecake about 30 minutes before you want to serve it. Enjoy with whipped cream, strawberries, or a sea salt caramel.