Suggested listening while reading this post (it's by the Light Crust Doughboys ;))
There are 3 components that make up a great cheesecake -- the crust, the filling, and the topping. And while I like to change up my fillings (sometimes I make a more traditional cream cheese version, sometimes one with goat cheese and sour cream), and the toppings (the possibilities are endless here), I keep coming back to the same crust recipe over-and-over again. And like almost all cheesecake crusts, it's really easy to make.
If you don't already have a springform pan, I recommend the Kaiser La Forme non-stick leakproof ones (mine came from Williams-Sonoma). I have two that I've been using for years and they've been wonderful. I like to use a 10" version which makes for a thinner cheesecake and crust (and more slices). But if you like your cheesecake taller, you can use a smaller pan and up your cooking time by just a few minutes.
Here's my tried and true pecan & graham crust recipe:
- 1 cup of finely chopped graham crackers (depending on the cheesecake, you may want to switch between honey and cinnamon grahams
- 2/3 cup of finely chopped pecans
- 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1/2 stick of melted unsalted butter
Your cooking time and temperature will vary depending on the recipe you're making, but as a general rule I would suggest that you coat a springform pan in oil or non-stick cooking spray; combine your crust ingredients and press them into the bottom of your springform pan; and then bake the crust (and only the crust -- no filling) for 10 minutes at 350 degrees; this will give it a little bit of crispiness before you add your filling and topping and bake the cheesecake according to your recipe.