Serve this Creole Cheesecake with strawberries for a fresh springtime dessert. 

Creole Cheesecake
Yields: 1 (9-inch) Cheesecake
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cups sour cream, divided
  • 1½ cups Creole Cream Cheese (recipe follows)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together cracker crumbs, ¼ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and melted butter. Press mixture into bottom and 1-inch up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until set, 12 to 15 minutes. When cool, wrap the bottom in foil and place in a roasting pan.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325°. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese at medium-high speed until fluffy, 5 to 8 minutes. Add 
1½ cups sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt, beating to combine. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Add 1 cup sour cream, and beat to combine.
  4. Pour mixture into cooled crust. Place cheesecake in the oven, and add hot water to the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the cake. Bake until center is set, 1½ to 2 hours. Remove pan from water, and let cool 20 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cheesecake to release sides. Let stand until cool, at least 1 hour. 5. Increase the oven temperature to 450°. Combine Creole Cream Cheese, remaining ½ cup sour cream, ¼ cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a blender, and blend on high speed until smooth. Stir in lemon zest. 
Pour Creole Cream Cheese mixture over cake, and smooth with a knife 
or offset spatula. Bake for 
10 minutes. Let cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating. Refrigerate at least 
8 hours before serving.
Notes
Note: To freeze, wrap cheesecake tightly with heavy-duty foil or plastic wrap, 
or place in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag.

Creole Cream Cheese
Yields: 3 Cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon skim milk, room temperature (70° to 80°)
  • ½ cup low-fat buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon liquid rennet
Instructions
  1. In a large nonreactive bowl, combine milk, buttermilk, and 
rennet, and stir constantly for 
1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap or cheesecloth, and let stand undisturbed at room temperature (70° to 80°) for 16 to 24 hours. 
The longer the mixture sits, the 
firmer the cheese will be.
  2. Line a large colander with cheesecloth, and place in a large bowl. Ladle curds into lined colander. Refrigerate at least 6 to 8 hours. Cheese will become firmer as more liquid drains. Creole cream cheese will keep, refrigerated, up to 2 weeks.