Depending on the size of your pan and whether or not you want to have crust up the sides, take 6-8 oz of the cookies or graham crackers and obliterate in a food processor with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the melted butter (pour a little of the butter off to grease your pan first) and mix well. 6 oz of cookie crumbs will cover the bottom of one 24cm (9 inch) springform pan, more will let you go up the sides. Chill pan with crust in it.Crust Variant:
Use ginger snap cookies (goes really well with pumpkin filling), as above, but you'll want to bake it at 350 for about 10 minutes to set. You can then chill it or just pour the filling in.
In powerful mixer, soften the cream cheese. Thoroughly blend in sugar (go ahead and use a high setting for these two steps). Slowly add eggs, one at a time. Scrape the bowl frequently. Add whipping cream and stop mixing as soon as it has blended in. Add flavorings. Knock bowl frequently to reduce air bubbles (this ain't no souffle, but the eggs and cream will get air mixed in). Pour into pan and bake at 425 for 15 min then turn the heat down to 250 and bake an additional 2 hours until nice and browned on top (leave the oven door open for a few extra seconds to get the heat from 450 to 250 fairly quickly). If your springform pan leaks, wrap aluminum foil around the bottom so that butter doesn't dribble out and make a mess on the bottom of your oven. If you have room in the oven, fill a pie pan or oven-safe frying pan with water and put it in the oven as well to steam the cheesecake while baking, this should reduce the chance of cracking.Filling Multipliers:
Let cool on a rack for 2 hours (it's still baking) then Chill for at least 12 hours. The sides of the springform pan can be removed after 1 hour in the 'fridge. If you need to freeze it, let it cool in the 'fridge for at least 6 hours before moving to the freezer, and remove from the freezer at least an hour before serving.
For two 8-inch/20cm pans, you'll want to increase by about a third to fill each well, i.e: 32 oz cream cheese, 1-1/3 cups each sugar and heavy whipping cream, but to get 1/3 more out of 5 eggs, use 6 whole eggs plus one egg white. This 1-1/3x multiplier should also fill a 26cm/11inch quite well (almost to over-filling). If you have a 10inch/25cm pan, you can just have a less deep cheesecake, or get a 7in/18cm, multiply by 1-1/3 and have a small one just for yourself!
For one 8-inch/20cm pan, you'll want to do a 2/3 recipe: 16 oz cream cheese, 2/3 c. sugar, 2/3 c. heavy whipping cream and either 3 jumbo eggs or 3 large and the white of one egg.
For three 7-inch/18cm pans, you can double the recipe. For anything else, you'll have to do your own math!
I use Kaiser springform pans, which seem to be very popular at good cooking stores.
Basic: zest of 1/2 lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon, or plenty of real vanilla extract (about a tablespoon or two) for the basic cheesecake.
Chocolate chunk: Vanilla and 4 or more oz of chocolate in chunks. Use small chunks or they'll all float to the bottom.
Chocolate cheesecake. Melt 4 (or more) oz of bittersweet chocolate in double boiler and mix in about 1/4c of the whipping cream (makes it easier to pour). Mix thoroughly into cream cheese/sugar mixture before adding eggs. If your cream cheese isn't at room temperature when you start, you'll really notice with chocolate, as you'll get little white chunks of unblended cream cheese showing up. Add eggs and remaining cream and continue as above. This works for white chocolate as well, but you may want to use more than 4 oz as its flavor isn't as strong, and you're going for the texture.
Choc swirl: Make the filling above as normal (with vanilla), melt the chocolate as above and mix some of the filling with the chocolate, pour remaining filling into pan and swirl in chocolate filling mix.
Mint/Chocolate Mint: Add 2 Tablespoons of peppermint extract after everything else is mixed in. Works well with chocolate or white chocolate as well. White Chocolate mint + chocolate cookie base + dark chocolate ganache topping = super-sized peppermint patty!
Orange: Zest of 1 orange and juice of 1/2 orange mixed in.
Orange chocolate: Should be obvious.
Caramel swirl: Melt 1 package (6 oz) soft caramel candies with 1Tbsp butter and about 2Tbsps of the whipping cream in a double-boiler. Stir in about 1 cup of the batter. Pour the rest of the batter into the pan and swirl in the caramel batter mixture. If you want to "hide" the caramel part, save a couple of tablespoons of the batter and pour over the top to cover. I tried a "Snickers" cheesecake once: a caramel swirl but I stirred in some peanuts and made a milk chocolate ganache. The peanuts became soft with cooking, which were fine, but most people expect crunchy peanuts so I don't think I'll try that again. Also, if you use milk chocolate for the ganache, use very little cream to a lot of chocolate, or it'll never set. In that case, just say it's supposed to be an oozy chocolate sauce and folks will believe you.
Pumpkin Spice: Add 1 cup pumpkin pie filling, some cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. You could also try spiced pumpkin butter, I found a 9 oz bottle of Stonewall Kitchen spiced pumpkin butter worked well. Use the ginger snap crust.
Sure, just make one slightly dilute (250g chocolate to 8 fl. oz heavy whipping cream) recipe's worth of ganache from my truffle recipe (if you choose this, get a pint of heavy whipping cream so you have another cup to use for the ganache), and while the ganache is still warm, pour it over the cooled cheesecake (the next day is a good time). It should be cooled another hour or so for the ganache to set. Extra for experts: remove from the springform pan and set on a cooling rack over a jelly roll pan and pour the ganache over, so that it covers the sides too. It helps to have the cake very cool, so you may need to freeze it for an hour before doing this trick.