This Fluffy Crustless Cheesecake is simply the best, and it happens to be gluten-free! Try it with your favorite topping! Note that you'll need to refrigerate the cheesecake overnight before cutting into it, so plan ahead.
Two hours ahead of time, unwrap the cream cheese blocks and set them out at room temperature to soften. Set out the eggs and sour cream also. When the cream cheese is softened, start the recipe.
Move the top oven rack down to the second lowest position in your oven, with nothing above it (to prevent over browning the cheesecake). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. (If using a dark springform pan, you'll need to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees F for this recipe, or the cheesecake will brown too much.)
Grease a 10-inch springform pan. (See notes if you have a 9-inch springform.)
Fill a roasting pan ¼ full with hot water. Prepare your springform pan to prevent water from seeping into it during baking. If you have a large pie dish,place the springform in it. If you don't have a pie dish large enough, you'll need to wrap the outside of the springform pan with heavy-duty foil (or a double layer of regular foil), covering the bottom, up the sides and inside the top of the rim.
In a large mixing bowl, add one block of cream cheese and beat it until creamy. Continue adding one block of cream cheese at a time and beating well, scraping the bowl as needed. There must not be any lumps in your batter. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition on low. Add the remaining ingredients one at a time, mixing to combine after each addition. When all ingredients have been added, beat on high (or as high as you can without splashing) for seven minutes.
Transfer the batter to the springform pan (filling it no more than ¾ of the way to the top; see notes for what to do with extra batter). Place the springform and bottom pie dish in the water bath and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees F. Then lower the temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for 40-55 minutes, or until the top is set except for a small circle in the middle. Do not insert anything into the cheesecake to test it, or it will crack. Turn off the heat and let the cheesecake stay in the oven with the door ajar for one hour.
Leave the cheesecake in the springform pan and let it finish cooling on a wire rack. Refrigerate it uncovered the first night if you can, unless you have strong odors in your fridge from onions or something. (See notes.)
To slice, remove the outer circle of the pan and dip a knife in warm water to make the cuts, wiping the knife clean after each slice. (Keep the bottom of the pan under the cheesecake. You can even place the cheesecake with the bottom portion of the pan on a cake stand.)
Store the cheesecake covered in the refrigerator (you can keep it in the springform) for up to three days or freeze it for up to 3 weeks. Wrap it in plastic, then foil before freezing it. Thaw the cheesecake in the refrigerator overnight or let it sit out at room temperature for 2-4 hours. You can thaw an individual slice in the microwave on the defrost setting for less than a minute.
Even if you have a 10-inch springform, just fill it ¾ full so it doesn't overflow.
If you only have a 9-inch springform pan, fill it ¾ full with the batter. Bake the remaining batter in two ramekins or another suitable baking dish, in a water bath, ideally in a separate oven, so you can pull out them out earlier without affecting the springform cheesecake. I bake my extra batter in a separate oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then 25 minutes at 375 degrees, then leave it in the oven with the door ajar for 20 minutes. If you don't have a separate oven, bake the ramekins/baking dish in the same oven with the springform cheesecake for the full amount of time (it's important not to open the oven during baking) and just know that the ramekins/baking dish will come out a bit overcooked, but tasty.
Some readers have halved the recipe with good results.
Whenever I cover the cheesecake with foil or wrap the first night, a few drops of moisture pool on top of the cheesecake, leaving a water stain on its surface. If you don't have strong odors in your fridge, try leaving the cheesecake uncovered for the first night.
I have never tried making this with a crust.
This cheesecake is barely adapted from a Williams Sonoma recipe.