Three Cities of Spain Cheesecake

Apparently there was a restaurant named Three Cities of Spain that served this delectable cheesecake, which is how it got its name.  But never mind.  I think of this as Ruth Reichl's Cheesecake and that's all.

This is a thick, smooth, rich cheesecake with a sour cream topping that is very simple to make.  It is also very satisfying and is best made for an occasion because you'll want lots of people around to help you eat it.  Keep in mind that it needs to chill for six hours (or as long as overnight), so plan accordingly.

Three Cities of Spain Cheesecake
From The Gourmet Cookbook edited by Ruth Reichl
Serves 10-12

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups finely ground ginger snaps (5 oz) (use gluten-free cookies for a gluten free version)
5 Tblsp butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt

For the filling and topping:
3-8oz packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 cup plus 1 Tblsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
16 oz sour cream

Butter the inside of a 9" springform pan.  Stir together the ginger snap crumbs, butter, sugar and salt in a bowl.  Press into the bottom and 1" up the sides of the pan.  Fill immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, rack in the middle position.  Beat cream cheese in a large bowl with a standing mixer at medium speed until fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add 1 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.

Set the springform pan on a baking sheet with sides to catch any drips.  Pour the filling into the crust and bake until set 3" from the edge, but center is still wobbly, about 45 minutes.  Cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes.  (Leave the oven on.)

Stir together the sour cream, 1 Tblsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla in a medium bowl.  Drop spoonfuls of topping around the edges of the cake and then spread evenly over the top.  Bake 10 minutes more.

Cool the cake completely on a rack.  Cover the cake loosely and refrigerate for 6 hours or up to overnight.  Before serving, remove the side of the pan, set the cake on a plate and bring to room temperature.

Note: for a smaller cake you can make the same amount of crust, but press it into a 9" pie pan. Make half the amount of filling and bake for 25-30 minutes. Top with half the topping and bake another 6-7 minutes.