For the crust:
- 1 3/4 cups (230 grams) graham crackers crumbs (about 15 whole graham crackers)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 32 ounces (907 grams) cream cheese, completely softened to room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (173 grams) sour cream or plain full fat yogurt, at room temperature
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
For the topping:
- 12 ounces (340 grams) fresh raspberries
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Boiling water, for the water bath
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Prepare a 9-inch springform pan for a water bath. Place a large square of heavy-duty aluminum foil underneath the pan. Gently fold the edges up and around the pan. Repeat twice so there’s three sheets of foil to ensure a waterproof seal. Gently fold the top of the foil around the edge of the pan. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Make the crust:
In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until the mixture is moistened. Press firmly into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the prepared pan. Place gently on oven rack and bake for 10 minutes. Place gently on a wire rack to cool. Maintain oven temperature.
Make the filling:
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese on medium speed until completely smooth and free of lumps, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Add in the sour cream, lemon zest, and juice and beat until combined, continuing to scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
Pour the batter into the foiled-wrapped springform pan. Tap the pan against the counter a few times to release any air bubbles in the batter. The cheesecake won’t rise much while baking in the water bath so it’s okay if the batter fills up most of the springform pan.
Place the springform pan in a larger roasting pan or deep sauté pan. Place on oven rack then carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake at 325°F for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the top looks slightly dry, especially at the edges. If the middle is slightly wobbly like jello, that’s fine. The internal temperature should read 150°F with an instant read thermometer inserted into the center. Err on the side of underbaking rather than overbaking.
Turn off the oven heat and open the oven door open just by 1-inch. Let the cheesecake cool inside the oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This will prevent cracks from forming.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and from the water bath, unwrap the foil, and transfer it to a cooling rack. Run a thin-bladed flexible knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it's not sticking to the sides (which can cause cracks as it cools). Let the cheesecake cool completely to room temperature on the rack.
Refrigerate in springform pan until completely chilled, at least 5 hours or up to 3 days. Store the cheesecake uncovered to avoid creating condensation, which will create a mushy texture.
Make the topping:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the topping ingredients. Heat, stirring and breaking up the raspberries often, until the raspberries release their juices and begin to form a syrupy sauce, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a spatula, press the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl to remove the seeds. Let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before using. The sauce will be on the thin side.
Release the cheesecake from the pan onto a cake stand or serving plate and top with any desired toppings. Slice using a big sharp knife, wiping it off under running hot water in between cuts. Serve.