This cheesecake is creamy and rich but, somehow, not heavy. Once you start eating it, you can't stop.
Technique tip: If you don't have a springform pan, you can still make this cheesecake. Use a 6-inch greased, parchment paper-lined cake pan instead.
Swap option: You can use your favorite kind of berry for the coulis. The fruity swirl makes a gorgeous pattern on this basic cheesecake.
Special equipment: A 6-inch springform pan or cake pan and a food processor
For the coulis:
Combine raspberries and sugar together in a food processor and process until liquid. Pass the raspberries through a strainer. Reserve coulis and discard solids. Set aside.
For the crust:
Heat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter (or spray with non-stick cooking spray) the sides and bottom of a 6-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
Grind the graham crackers to crumbs in a food processor. Add the melted butter and sugar to the crumbs in the food processor and process until the mixture comes together well.
Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the cake pan and bake for 15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside; turn the oven down to 325°F.
For the cheesecake base:
Meanwhile, in a food processor, process or beat the cream cheese on medium speed for at least 1 minute until smooth. Add the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla extract, salt, and sour cream or crème fraîche and process for 1 to 2 minutes more. Pour the mixture into the baked graham cracker crust. Dot the coulis onto the cheesecake and using a toothpick swirl a pretty swirl pattern in the cheesecake.
Place the pan in a large roasting pan with high sides and place the roasting pan in the oven. Pour water into the roasting pan so that it comes up about halfway on the sides of the cake pan to create a water bath for the cheesecake to bake in. (This allows the cheesecake to bake slowly and gently, which leads to a smoother cake.)
Bake for 90 minutes and then turn off the oven and let the cake remain in the oven for another 1 hour. (This keeps the cheesecake from cracking when you remove it.)
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it cool at room temperature for about 1 hour. If using a springform pan, place the cheesecake in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours and then unmold and serve.
The cheesecake may be stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.