The first cheesecake I recall eating was from Junior’s in Brooklyn. I’d go there with my grandparents and my aunts, Sylvia and Rose, when I was little. There was always a ton of food and loud conversation, but the only thing I remember clearly is the cheesecake. It was tall and smothered in impossibly red strawberries.
The last time I ate cheesecake at Junior’s was the day I bought my wedding dress at Kleinfeld’s Bridal shop, when it was still in Brooklyn and long before there was a reality TV show about it. All the women in my family piled into the fitting room and the very bossy attendant said, “I have the dress for you!” and left. She came back with a dress, I put it on and everyone started to cry. I did try on a few more, since we’d intended to make a whole day of it, but she nailed it on the first try. We left that fitting room and went to Junior’s for lunch. The cheesecake was not as great as I had remembered from when I was a kid, but it was exactly what the day called for, tradition.
This Pomegranate Swirl New York Cheesecake started with a base I found in Bake from Scratch Magazine. The texture is luxurious and smooth, but not as dense and custardy as some of my other go to cheesecake recipes. I love all kinds of cheesecakes and this may be my new favorite NY style. Dare I say, better than Junior’s. I added a swirl of pomegranate to the cake, because it has a tartness that pairs so well with the rich creaminess of a cheesecake.
I had been seduced by a case of the ruby colored fruit at Costco, so I needed a way to use them up. I reduced the juice of fresh pomegranates, which was DELICIOUS, but a true pain in the ass. The flavor is incredible, but you can certainly do this with store bought pomegranate juice or any other tart fruit juice as well (Sour Cherry, Passion fruit, Raspberry, Cranberry). The base is a simple graham cracker, because it is my favorite and I far prefer it to Junior’s sponge cake crust.
- Ingredients for New York Style Cheesecake and Graham Cracker Crust RECIPE HERE (see notes)
- 1 cup pomegranate juice or other tart juice like sour cherry, passion fruit, raspberry, cranberry
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Simmer juice and sugar over medium-low heat until the liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup and is the consistency of maple syrup. Allow to cool.
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Press the crust into an 8-inch cake or springform pan (you can use a 9-inch, but it will not be as tall) lined with parchment paper. I put the crust up the sides of my 8-inch pan, but if you want clean sides, you will have a thicker bottom crust or you can leave a portion of the crust out. It perfectly fits the bottom of a 9-inch pan, without going up the sides. Bake until golden and smells toasty.
- Mix the cheesecake batter as directed in this recipe.
- Pour 1/4 of the cheesecake batter into the prepared pan. Shake the pan to spread the batter evenly. Create a spiral of the pomegranate juice over the batter and use a skewer to create swirls. Repeat this pattern 3 more times with the remaining batter and pomegranate juice (save a bit of pomegranate juice to decorate the top of the cheesecake).
- Bake as instructed in the recipe*. (If you are using an 8-inch pan, you'll want to reduce the temperature to 300°F and bake for about 30 minutes longer, since the cake is taller. Reducing the temperature will prevent the top from getting overly brown, so the design is still visible. Low and slow baking will also prevent cracking.*If baking in a springform pan, be sure to wrap the bottom in foil to prevent the water bath from getting into the pan.
- Once the cake is set in the middle, run a knife around the edge of the pan, to prevent it from cracking as it cools. Allow the cake to cool in the hot water bath. Once it is room temperature, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.
Whipped Cream Topping
- Whip the heavy whipping cream until soft peaks. Spread it over the cake. Swirl in the pomegranate juice. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or longer before cutting to give the cream time to set.