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THE WORLD’S BEST CHEESECAKE RECIPE

 Without a doubt this is the world’s best cheesecake. It’s my mother, Anna’s secret recipe.

She kept it classified “Top Secret” for decades. Here’s the story.

Perino

 Perino’s Restaurant first opened in Los Angeles in 1932. Years later, in 1950, it moved to a new location on Wilshire Boulevard just up the street from our home.

Perino

It was a glamorous dining spot filled nightly with stars of varying degrees of brightness: Frank Sinatra stained the piano with his martinis. Bette Davis had her own booth reserved for her at all times. Charlie Chaplin always ordered Perino’s pumpernickel cheese toast. Cary Grant always had Steak Diane. The mobster, “Bugsy” Siegel was a regular patron before his demise and Cole Porter wrote a song on the back of a Perino’s menu.

But, back to the story of my mother’s recipe. One of her closest friends was her neighbor, Mary. Now Mary had a ‘gentleman friend’ who ate at Perino’s often. He loved their cheesecake.  Over time, he befriended the chef who, one day, gave him his personal (and very secret) cheesecake recipe. Secrecy being what it is, he gave the recipe to Mary and Mary immediately gave it to my mother. Then they vowed to not give it to anyone else.

Once my mother had baked her first cheesecake from this recipe, she pronounced it ‘perfection’ and locked the magic formula away. In her eyes, this was like discovering the philosopher’s stone and she was going to keep this bit of culinary alchemy safely hidden!

And that’s what she did, for decades. But, at the same time, she would bake cheesecakes for every family member, friend, celebration or event, be it holiday, birthday, funeral or bris. Everyone adored this dessert and my mother became famous for it. She was generous with her cheesecakes but she never divulged the recipe. It wasn’t until she was seventy-seven years old and in poor health, that I went to her apartment and finally found the recipe. Now, I want to share it with the world in memory of my mother, Anna, and to honor her good taste and her guardianship of one of baking’s great triumphs.

But before I do, here’s a wonderful story which captures so much of my mother’s personality.

Vintage telephone dial

In 1967, my mother went to visit her family in New Jersey. I called her and this is how the conversation went.

Me:     Hi Mom, how’s the family?

Mom: Everyone’s fine. Thank God.

Me:     So what have you been doing?

Mom: Well, my girl friend, Lillian from Los Angeles called and asked me to visit her son, Dusty, in New York City. She’s worried he’s not eating enough. She says he’s skinny so I made him a cheesecake and bought him a corned beef sandwich.Then I took the train into the city, walked up the stairs to his apartment and gave him my cheesecake and the sandwich. At least I can tell Lillian that I saw Dusty, fed him and he’s OK.

Me:      You mean you went to the trouble of making one of your cheesecakes and took the train all the way into New York just to feed Lillian’s son?

Mom:  Of course. I knew Dusty needed food.

Me:      Dusty?

Mom:  Yes, Dusty.

Me:      Dusty? You don’t mean Dustin Hoffman do you?

Mom:   Yeh, sure, it’s Lillian Hoffman’s son, Dusty.

Me:      Wait a second. Lillian, the woman you play cards with is Dustin’s Hoffman’s mother?

Mom:   Yeh, sure, Lillian Hoffman.

Me:      Do you know who he is?

Mom:  Yeh, He’s Lillian Hoffman’s son. Dusty. You should see how skinny he is and oy, the way he lives. I was doing such a blessing by bringing him food.

Me:      Mom! That’s Dustin Hoffman! He’s a very famous actor. Did you know that? I mean really famous!

Mom:  Famous, shamous. All I know is that he needs food. I don’t know how he expects to be an actor. He’s not handsome. He’s short and skinny. But he has a very nice personality…

Dustin Hoffman then and now

*****

THE WORLD’S BEST

ANNA’S CHEESECAKE RECIPE

10 inch Springform pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Crust:

2 cups of Graham Cracker Crumbs (Nabisco -13 1/2 oz. box)

1/4 pound butter (1 stick)

Pinch of cinnamon

Melt the butter and mix with the cinnamon and graham cracker crumbs

Press down into pan (a little bit higher on the sides)

Bake for 5 minutes at 350, take out of oven and let it cool)

Turn off oven

Filling:

Four 8 oz. packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese at room temperature

4 eggs

1 Cup Sugar

Pinch of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of cake or regular flour

Put cream cheese into a mixing bowl ( 4 pkgs of cream cheese)

Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour, pinch of cinnamon and beat mixture

Add 1 egg at a time and beat into mixture

Add mixture into pan

Bake 40 minutes at 375

(PUT INTO COLD OVEN – DO NOT PREHEAT)

After baking the filling remove from oven. Let cool for  30 minutes before smoothing the topping onto the cake.

Topping:

1 pint container or sour cream

3 tablespoons of sugar

1 tsp of vanilla or almond extract

Beat several minutes together. Smooth on top of cheesecake. Bake for 8 minutes.

Take out cake and place on something to cool. Place in fridge overnight.

Take off collar of spring form pan and pat more graham cracker crumbs onto the sides of the cake.

Anna

All images appearing on THE WORLD’S BEST CHEESECAKE RECIPE are the expressed property of Sandra Sallin. All rights reserved. In other words, don’t steal it!



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  • Antonia - What a great story — cheesecake and “Dusty”.

    My mom was also famous for her cheesecake! She made it with a crust made from zweiback. Not sure you can even buy zweiback anymore. I can remember eating it as a small child.

    Love cheesecake — although I haven’t eaten a piece in years.

    The post brought back lots of great memories. Thanks.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Hi Antonia, yes they still make zweiback. I remember trying it when my granddaughter was a baby. I hadn’t eaten it in years either. After making it the taste brought back all the memories. It was just as if she’s make it.ReplyCancel

  • nancy - I make a no-bake cheese cake with Milnot! :(
    I’m going to try Anna’s.
    Oh, to sit for cake and coffee with our Moms…ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Yes, you’re right Nancy. When I bit into that cheesecake to test it. It just took me back to those days. Make it and think of my mom. A gift to the world.ReplyCancel

  • Arah - What a great story! I may have to try that recipe. I can’t believe you’re sharing it!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Hi Arah, I thought long and hard about sharing. I then asked some of my relatives and we decided that I would let it go into the world as a tribute to mom. So that Anna’s Cheesecake will be remembered with her name. It is soooo gooood!ReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - Thanks for sharing! Of course, you made me drool with those pictures, so I should thank you or blame you for the wet spots on my keyboard.
    Loved the story and it seems I will also love the cheesecake.

    I’ve eaten and also baked many others claiming to be World’s Best. Some are so involved and time consuming that I toss them aside. But this one seems like the true and pure that has been missing. No lemon even!

    One question: Does the sourcream topping go on prior to popping the whole thing into the cold oven?

    Oh my – cannot wait to get some of that into my mouth. It will happen before next Sunday evening, I promise.
    Thank you again.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Thanks for asking Julie. I just revised the recipe so that I hope it’s clearer. You put on the topping after the cake has been baked. I was literal and beat the topping for 7 minutes. Then when the cake was baked I put the topping on and baked it for 8 minutes. Let me know how you like it. I love it.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Flowers - An adorable and delicious story! Thanks for the fantastic recipe. (It will be our little secret.) ;-)ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Yes, Lisa, don’t tell anyone. Keep it a secret. Let’s see how long that lasts. I’ll be curious to see how this travels on the internet.ReplyCancel

  • Ginger Kay - The recipe sounds like perfection, and I love the story about your mom and Dusty.ReplyCancel

  • Julie Chenell DeNeen - I’m drooling. I love cheesecake. Your photos are always so fantastic! I miss you roomie!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Hey buddy. You’re right I miss you too. Try this cheesecake for a family or group outing. You won’t believe the oohs and ahs. Glad you liked the photos. I think I took about 50. Nothing to it.ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Carter Twigg-Smith - What a great story! Can’t wait to try this recipe and WOW my world with it! Great idea to share it in honor of your mother! I shall think of her whenever I bake it! xxxReplyCancel

    • sandra - Thanks Sharon. This is really good. You will WOW your world and gain ten pounds. But boy will you enjoy it. Thanks for thinking of me.ReplyCancel

  • Connie McLeod - I LOVE all your stories! Now I need to make that cheesecake!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Thanks Connie. Glad you like my stories. More to come. You’ll love the cheesecake. Just remember my mom.ReplyCancel

  • Roshni AaMom - OMG, Sandra! I can’t believe how many famous people you’ve rubbed shoulders with (or your family has)! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us! It looks amazing!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Hi Ropshni, the funny thing is that these were just my mother’s card buddies. Not famous just old friends. The recipe is divine!ReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Wow, first off the recipe and how it came about sounds absolutely amazing. And the story of your mom meeting (feeding) Dustin Hoffman was too good to be true. Really a wonderful tribute to your mom and thank you so much for sharing it with all of us.ReplyCancel

  • KymberlyFunFit - Oy vay, such a skinny boy, that Dusty. Too cool a story. Was your mom a character through and through or just in these instances?ReplyCancel

    • sandra - You nailed it Kymberly, a character through and through. I heard her voice exactly as she spoke as I typed it out. So many stories and the life of the party.ReplyCancel

  • Shirley Abrams - I can’t believe you shared your mom’s secret cheesecake recipe. If only Harry had known. Actually your mom gave him the recipe and he used to make it but he also guarded the recipe and would not share it.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Hi Shirley, I thought a lot about it and asked members of the family. They all felt that it would be a tribute to her if it went out into the world as Anna’s Cheesecake. I’m so impressed that Harry had the recipe. We always knew he was special. Now everyone can enjoy Anna’s Secret Cheesecake recipe. It still tastes wonderful. I had a hard time putting down my fork.ReplyCancel

  • Connie Bonak - Good one! I love food and I love Cheesecake and I love Hoffman and I love you! Thanks for this nostalgic, be it, tasty share!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Thanks Connie, so that’s a trifecta! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Chester - OMG, Sandra. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and LOVE this post. (1) Of course I love cheesecake (2) I love classic movies and stories of old Hollywood and vintage photos (3) I love the story of Dusty!

    As an aside, a neighbor’s mom where I grew up in NJ acted at local theatres when I was about 5 yrs old. One night a man named Dusty came home with her and told bedtime stories to her children – my classmates, circa 1966!

    I must sent this post to my family. They will kvell! You are endlessly fascinating, my friend.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Wow, Cathy, that’s six degrees of separation! I love that story also.ReplyCancel

  • Pamela Mason - That is such a great story! My mother kept a recipe for cookies secret forever. She didn’t want people to know because she always wanted to have something special to give others, something nobody else had the recipe for. One day I swiped what I thought was her original recipe, until my sister said she’d swiped it herself! Knowing Mother, she had two ‘originals’ for her daughters. I should be so smart.ReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - Wow…this cheese cake looks awesome, Sandra.

    Especially when I want to shed a few inches here and there…dunno why do such appealing things keep coming at me…lol.
    Thanks for sharing :)ReplyCancel

  • deborah briskin - hi sandy,
    i love this story!! and thanks for the cheesecake recipe too!
    keep up the great writing. i love it!
    xoxoReplyCancel

  • sandra - Thanks Deborah, Maybe Miles will make this recipe famous!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. - How I love your storytelling! I actually made an audible noise/gasp/snort when I read it was Dustin Hoffman- what a great delivery! I have never made a cheesecake, but I know if I ever do- it will be this one. YUM! I do love reading you now that I “know” you.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Hey Stephanie, Glad you enjoyed the story. I gasped when I found out who Dusty was also. I mean really. So glad to “know” you also. Such fun reading your blog.ReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - I could hear your mother’s voice with this. She had an accent that I have no idea about it being present in real life or not, but wow. Dustin Hoffman. And that cheesecake! He’s still skinny. And wow. Just wow. Your photos are amazing as well. :)ReplyCancel

  • sandra - Krisiti, how perceptive of you. Yes, she did have an accent that embarssed her. We all loved it, but she hated being a greenhorn. Her words and the way she spoke simply poured out of me onto the page. Glad you liked the photos.ReplyCancel

  • lisa thomson - Fabulous story, Sandra. I’ve got the cake in the oven right now. So, it’s okay to put the topping out while the cake is still hot? Just wanted to check. I’m making it for my stepson’s birthday tomorrow. He always requests my cheesecake for his b-day and so I hope he likes Anna’s recipe! :)ReplyCancel

    • sandra - I let it cool a little Lisa. But I don’t think it matters because you putting the cake in the oven right away. But it is important to make sure you leave it in the fridge over night. Another reader make this and wanted to send me a photo. But the cheesecake was devoured before she could even get a shot. :-) Enjoy, and let me know.ReplyCancel

  • lisa thomson - Thanks, Sandra! 15 more mins. then I’ll let it cool slightly. Yes, definitely will refrigerate it overnight. Thanks again for sharing your mom’s special recipe. I’ll let you know how he likes (loves) it!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Can’t wait to here how he likes it Lisa. My mother put sliced Kiwi fruit on the top, but I never liked it so I didn’t incude it in the recipe. I guess she liked the addition of green. If she couln’t use parsley she’d use Kiwi. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - I don’t see my previous comment, so am starting fresh. I mad ethe cheesecake last weekend. I felt concern that the center seemed “loose”. I cooled it anyway and then put in fridge till next day. My son had friends over, and they all had their way with that cake. When I next checked on it in fridge it was well on the way to being demolished. These are guys who all have families known for being great “old fashioned” scratch cooks. They all know good – great food. Really do. A few were here again next day, digging back into the cheesecake. I hereby testify it is successfully received.

    One note: I learned from Sandra next day that one is supposed to to allow the cake to cool prior to applying the topping and putting back in the oven for that last bake. Wonder how much better it would have been in that case? Oh well, must make it again.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Julie, thannks for your review. I reread my mother’s instructions. She does not say to cool the bottom part of the cake before putting on the topping. I think I took the cake out of the oven, let it rest while I was beating the topping simply because I was concerned about the heat affecting the sourcream. So maybe the answer is to make the topping while the cake rests on the counter. Then smooth the topping on.ReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - Next time I will just do it as you describe you do yourself.
    As for kiwi slices – well – I think I prefer strawberry halves, or wonderful little raspberries. Next time!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Julie, in some of my photos not used there was a cookbook opened to a cheesecake with rasberries on top. I love the idea of straberries or rasberries.ReplyCancel

  • Carpool Goddess - Omg, this cheesecake looks amazing! My grandmother made a great one too. I must compare recipes :)ReplyCancel

    • sandra - I’m warning you Linda, make a plan for getting it out of the house. You will not be able to stop eating it. I coudln’t.ReplyCancel

  • Krystle Cook - I love cheesecake. I’ve only attempted to make it once and it didn’t turn out well. I will have to try this recipe sometime.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - It is so good Krystle, I had to give it away for fear I’d eat the whole thing.ReplyCancel

  • French Madame - Hello Sandra! This recipe looks A-mazing! The cheesecake looks to light and fluffy. I’m definitely bookmarking the recipe, and saving it to make for the holidays. You might find it on my other blog http://www.parislovespastry.com, but I will credit you and link your blog! :)

    I haven’t been to Monet’s gardens! Is it in Paris? Or elsewhere in France? Dying to know!

    XxReplyCancel

    • sandra - Dear French Madame, Giverny is in Vernon. It is a must see. it’s about a half hour I believe by train out of Paris. I know a friend decided to drive there and got lost. I found the train to be just fine. It is a must see for anyone who loves Monet, Impressionism, art, and gardens.
      Hope you enjoy the cheesecake. We all love it.ReplyCancel

  • Katherine Kotaw - I learned a lot about your mother from this post. I can picture her in my head, hear her side of the conversation. You honor her memory with the story and recipe (which is remarkably similar to MY secret cheesecake recipe). And I imagine Dusty was delighted with your mom’s “famous shamous” attitude. Wonderful story — please keep writing!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Thank you Katherine. I take that as a great compliment. My mother was something special. Glad you saw it.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Steck - That’s fantastic! I love those kinds of stories. I met a woman on my trip to Antarctica whose sister dated Elvis Presley before he made it big. Her family thought he was full of himself. Who knows? Maybe the cheesecake got Dustin motivated.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Glad you enjoyed the story. It was just so funny putting together the Dusty with the Dustin. I’m sure my mother never saw him act. But he did enjoy the cheesecake.ReplyCancel

  • Solo Mama - Thank you for being kind enough to share your mother’s recipe with us. I’ve wanted to try my hand at baking a cheesecake for some time now. This recipe I’m sure will put to bed the usual icebox pie that I’ve made in the past. In the photos you posted, it looks absolutely delicious w/a bit of history in every bite! :)ReplyCancel

    • sandra - To be honest, I wanted her recipe to go down in history. I wanted the world to be able to share it. It’s so good I can only eat a few bites. Well, maybe more. :) I love the story though about Mom and Dusty.ReplyCancel

  • jezrel - What an interesting story. Stumbled upon your blog while googling for a cheesecake recipe. Love your blog especially your craft. Awesome paintings! Will definitely try your Mom’s cheesecake recipe. Thanks for sharing with us this lovely tribute to your Mom.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Thanks for reading Jezrel. It’s nice knowing that my mother lives thoughout the world not only in our memories and hearts but in her cheesecake recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Liz - YummyReplyCancel

  • judy - What oven temp. for the sour cream topping??ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Return the cheesecake with the topping into the 375 degree oven. Hope it turned out well. We love it. Sorry I have not been active on my blog. I had surgery and have not gotten back into blogging. I do appreciate your interest. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Thomas Bearden - I just don’t understand how one can allow it to cool overnight in the fridge overnight………..how do you do that ?
    ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Sorry I’m late in replying to you. I’ve had some health issues that I’ll be writing about. Anyway, you simply cover the cheesecake with saran wrap in it’s pan and put it in the refrigerator. Hope that answers your questions.ReplyCancel

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