My dear friend Dani read my first five posts and said – “love it, but what about my cheesecake and my peppermint ice cream?”  Cheesecake first.  Dani  was very close to having gestational diabetes with her first pregnancy.  Doctors orders… no sugar – none!  It was wicked hard (yes I’m originally from Boston) for her so I really wanted to do good by her when she could eat sweets again.  When I asked what she needed as as she was going into labor, she replied, “the cheesecake please!”  That was that.  I proudly arrived – cheesecake in hand – and I think I was her very favorite person at that moment (well, except for maybe her newborn baby).  This is not a light and fluffy cheesecake, it is dense and rich and packed with berries.  My friend Elese said “OMG that cheesecake is crazy good – it is really outstanding and I’m not just saying that.” My favorite part is the buttery graham cracker crust – so much so that I changed the recipe to make 1 1/2 times the original amount of crust.  This cheesecake is so easy to make and tastes even better the following day.  Perfect for a make-ahead dessert.  (A side note: Dani read this and apparently I made – at her request – Oreo cheesecake.  Think she was really craving sugar.  I don’t remember that which is somewhat scary, but she loved it with Oreos and wanted me to tell all of you that, although I really prefer berries!)

mixed berry cheesecake with sour cream topping (adapted from my mothers recipe)
1 7/8 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
7.5 tablespoons melted butter (almost one stick)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound (2 – 8 oz packs cream cheese – not whipped!)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or more to taste),  3/4 teaspoon salt
mixed berries (about 2 cups – I use 1 cup blueberries and 1/2 cup each blackberries and raspberries – but do what you love – more or less – one type of berry or even no berries.)

1 1/2 cups sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix crumbs, sugar, melted butter and salt.  Squish mixture  into an 8 or 9 inch spring-form pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes.

In mixer, mix cream cheese and sugar – when blended, add eggs one at a time and mix well.  Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon and salt.  Remove from mixer and by hand, fold in the berries being careful not to break them into pieces.

Pour mixture into pre-baked crust and continue to bake at 375 for about 30 minutes.  (Sometimes the butter from the crust leaks out of my pan, not sure why, and onto the oven floor so I often line the shelf below with tin foil to catch the drips and make clean up easier.)

As usual, remember to set your timer for 25 minutes and then check every 5-3 minutes thereafter so that you do not over cook.  Put cake on wire rack and let cool for about 15- 30 minutes.

Raise the oven temp to 400 degrees and make the topping.  Mix the sour cream, sugar, vanilla and salt and spread on top of the baked cheesecake.  This tastes delicious and also covers any cracks in the cheesecake.  Pop in the oven for 5 minutes to set.  Remove and once cool, cover with plastic wrap and let set in the refrigerator.  The following day, or several hours later, run a knife around the edges of the pan, unlock the spring and un-mold the cake.  If you have a hard time releasing the crust from the pan you can cut in slices first and then remove.  Enjoy the love and smiles  from your family and friends…

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