Classic Cream Cheese Cake



Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Have all filling ingredients at room temperature. To make crust, mix crumbs, sugar, butter and milk in medium mixing bowl. Add ground nuts, cocoa or spices, if desired. When mixed, the crust should be moist, and crumbly, but not greasy. If necessary, adjust liquid ingredients until correct consistency is reached. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides (to 1/4 inch thickness) of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. Bake the crust at 325 degrees for 10 minutes, until it just starts to smell wonderful and begins to look a little "puffy". Remove from oven and cool.

In large bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add remaining ingredients, one at a time in the order listed until the mixture is smooth. Pour into the crust and place in 325 degree oven (with rack in middle position) and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 300 degrees and bake an additional 40 minutes. Turn off heat and leave cake in oven (with door closed at all times) for 60 minutes. Chill overnight and garnish with seasonal fruit, chocolate, nuts or a garnish of your preference. Let cake stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.