This American flag cheesecake is a spin on a 4th of July dessert classic.
I remember during my teens the flag cake with strawberries and blueberries being super popular for the 4th of July. I actually got so tired of seeing it I’ve never even made one myself, ironically enough. I remember back when I was a kid, though, when we had a family cookout for the 4th and my mom made a simple no-bake flag cheesecake. It was divine to not even have to be baked and made with boxed pudding and not to mention looked great and was super festive. However, this time I wanted something a bit more scratch-made, and I have a cheesecake recipe I just love.
You want the whipped cream to be mostly even and smooth, but it doesn’t need to be pristine as you’ll be covering it with berries, after all.
American Flag Cheesecake
This American flag cheesecake is more of a New York style cheesecake that has a nice density and weight to it, but is super creamy with a solid vanilla flavor that can both stand on its own and nicely pair with toppings, in this case whipped cream and berries. The whipped cream isn’t even really needed, but I wanted a nice crisp white background for the flag design, plus it will fill in any cracks or dimples your cheesecake may have. I honestly never use a hot water bath, so cracks are hit or miss for me, but it just gives me an excuse to top with whipped cream, chocolate ganache, etc. I do find it important to use a non-stick springform pan as it will help the cheesecake to not stick as it cools. The cheesecake will slightly shrink on cooking and if it sticks, it will definitely cause cracks. I love my springform pan by Calphalon. I once bought a “deal” of a cheaper brand with a set of 3 that cost less than the one Calphalon, but the metal was very thin and had already warped on one pan to where it would leak, so I had to immediately return them. Sometimes you do definitely get what you pay for!
- 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick or ¼ cup) butter, melted
- 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese (I’ve always used regular)
- 1½ cups white sugar
- ¾ cup milk (I’ve always used whole)
- 4 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (or other extract of your choice such as almond or lemon)
- Whipped cream or cool whip, about 1.5 – 2 cups
- Washed and dried blueberries and raspberries (or you can use strawberries cut in half)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- to 2 hours before making the cheesecake, set cream cheese, milk, eggs and sour cream out to come to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a small bowl stir graham cracker crumbs, ⅓ cup white sugar and cinnamon together until thoroughly combined.
- Pour melted butter over the crumbs and stir until evenly moistened.
- Press graham mixture evenly into bottom, and sides if desired, of 9 inch springform pan. I like to use a glass or measuring cup to help pat down everything evenly.
- Using a hand or stand mixer, mix together cream cheese and 1.5 cups white sugar until smooth.
- Blend in milk on low speed.
- Mix in eggs one at a time until just combined.
- At this point I stop using the mixer and mix in by hand: salt, sour cream and vanilla until just combined.
- Mix in flour until just combined.
- Pour mixture over the graham cracker crust.
- If you want to use a hot water bath, wrap base of springform pan with 2 layers of foil and place pan in a large baking pan, like a roasting pan and place on middle rack of oven. Then pour boiling water carefully around pan, being very careful to not get any inside the springform pan.
- Otherwise, place pan directly on rack in middle of the oven.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- If using hot water bath, remove cheesecake and allow to cool.
- If not using a bath, keep cheesecake in oven 5-6 hours to cool, keeping the oven door closed.
- Remove cheesecake from oven and refrigerate overnight.
- Before serving, remove ring of springform pan and top cheesecake with whipped cream or cool whip as if you were icing the top of a cake.
- Place blueberries on top left corner of cheesecake, halfway over and halfway down to mimic the stars of the American flag.
- Place raspberries side by side to create red stripes of flag.
- Cover tightly, being careful to not crush berries and refrigerate until serving.
- Leftovers should be stored covered in refrigerator.