Holy deliciousness!!!! This is the best dessert EVER!!!!! And on top of being delicious... it looks show stopping! I love that!! Six people ate this and all raved of how yum it was! Now having said all that... some of the cooking instructions were weird (the water bath, taking out the foil) and next time I make this, I may try skipping some steps to see if that really matters. But I was cooking this for the in-laws so I didn't want to chance it. I found this recipe in my handy dandy Taste of Home Cooking Magazine again!!! It was a recipe submitted by Wendy Paffenroth of Pine Island, NY. The only thing I changed was leaving out the walnuts in the crust. Also, the chocolate drizzled on top is not IC friendly, but it was so minimal I didn't think it would bother me. You may substitute white chocolate or just leave off... it's really just for wow factor.
2 Cups Graham Cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2-ish Cup melted butter (I eyeballed it... you want it moist throughout, but not wet wet)
4 pkgs plain cream cheese (8 oz each), softened
3/4 C sugar
2 tsp. maple flavoring
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp grated lemon peel (I use dried)
Melted Hershey's bar, optional
1. Place a greased 9 in springform pan on a double thickness of heavy duty foil (about 18in square). Wrap foil securely around pan.
2. In a small bowl, mix the cracker crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of prepared pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
3. For filling, in a bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the maple flavoring, extract and lemon peel. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until blended. Pour into crust. Place springform pan in a larger baking pan (I used my extra large roasting pan); add 1 inch of hot water to larger pan.
4. Bake for 45-55min or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool cheesecake on rack for 10 minutes. Loosen sides from pan; remove foil. Cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.
5. Remove rim from pan. If desired, drizzle cheesecake with melted chocolate. (I used the baggy with a hole method... you can find videos on how to do this by googling... how to drizzle chocolate over cake...you can also google how to melt chocolate... I did that too, lol!!)