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The Most Awesome Cheesecake You’ve Ever Had

February 23, 2017

first-page-cheesecakeI am finally getting my bearings after the shock of going back to being a full-time employee on November 3rd.  I’m trying to get back on a weekly blogging schedule, and will do my best, but don’t hold your breath.  However, I just had to write about this cheesecake because it’s worth every decadent calorie.

I know I already laid claim to the best Carrot Cake ever. I’m going out on a limb again because I also have the recipe for the best cheesecake ever.  I may be a lapsed Catholic, but I cannot lie (not convincingly anyway) and I’m serious, this is the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. The common denominator for both these outstanding recipes is my sister-in-law, Donna. Her attention to detail is almost mind-numbing.  



Donna Tunno smiling in a perfectly coordinated outfit while at the Wholey Fish Market in Pittsburgh.

If Donna is doing anything, it’s done perfectly.  Let’s say she’s throwing a western themed shower, she’ll have it decorated down to  tiny cactus plants on tables, each sporting it’s own tiny, colorful bandana.

Your home’s decor will never hold a candle to hers and your photo albums cannot even hope to compete, so don’t think of trying.

The first time Donna visited our home,  I was nine-years-old. I took one look at her and thought, how will this perfect, civilized  beautiful young girl ever be able to hang out with us? She was so blonde and charming. She wore perfect shiny, little shoes with buckles on them, like Pilgrims wore and her clothes even matched.

We were loud, Italian, frizzy haired, disorganized and lived for food. I didn’t see it lasting, but I was wrong. Donna and Bernie are coming up on 50 years together soon, so clearly my powers of prognostication stink. Either that, or she’s still trying to perfect my brother, I’m just not sure.

Anyway, back to the cheesecake.  Donna tells me that the carrot cake and cheesecake recipes were given to her by a friend, who took a gourmet baking class somewhere in Cleveland many years ago.  She’s passed away now, but her name was Sue Fair Kohut, and I thank God she shared these recipes every time I bake either of these fantastic desserts.

page-3This cheesecake is creamy, with a buttery, slightly salty crust and a sour cream layer on top. To say it’s killer good is an understatement.  I’ve had cheesecake many places and it’s always dry to me, but this one is amazing.

Donna even wrote out the recipe on cute stationery so I’d have it forever, but I typed it up here for you. Just looking at how neatly she wrote it gives you some insight into the magnitude of her perfection.  It’s good having her around, it gives us all something to strive for.

Most Awesome Cheesecake You’ve Ever Had!


2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup butter (two sticks) (not unsalted) melted

1/2 cup sugar

Cheesecake Filling:

3  8 oz packages of cream cheese (at room temperature)

5 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla


1 pint (16 oz.) sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla



Combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter and press it into a 9 x 12 pan.

Next cream the cheese until it’s smooth, then add the eggs, one at a time, then add sugar and vanilla. When it is thoroughly combined, pour it into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

While cheesecake is baking, mix together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Set it aside. Once cheesecake has baked for 25 minutes, remove it from oven. Let it cool for about 20 minutes and then pour the sour cream mixture on top.  Place it back in the oven and bake it for 15 more minutes, then remove from oven and let it cool.

Donna says the flavor is better if you make it a day ahead of time. She says you can freeze it also. She serves hers with chopped strawberries mixed with sugar. I like it with cherry pie filling on top. But it’s so good you can eat it plain and it’s amazing.

  • Reply
    If Ever There Was a Time for Comfort Food… – At Fran's Table
    January 14, 2021 at 5:04 am

    […] Donna has given me a few of my favorite, most requested dessert recipes, including carrot cake and cheesecake, Danish pastry puffs and the famous New Year Pork and Sauerkraut. Sister-in-law Patty has given me […]

  • Reply
    Chas Madonio
    February 28, 2017 at 8:22 am

    To say Donna is anal about everything is like saying the Pope is a good Catholic. But after reading this blog, I am really mad at her. In June, I will have known Donna for 42 years. We have been together with her and Bernie literally thousands of times. We have traveled and vacationed together more times than I can remember. And never once has she so much has mentioned this cheesecake let alone ever made one for me. I guess the only way I’ll ever experience the euphoria of tasting it will be if I make one myself. Thanks a lot, Donna.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 28, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      Chas, you are too funny. I will mention it to her and maybe next time you guys are together, she’ll whip one up for you. I guarantee you will love it! Thanks for always reading Chas, you rock.

  • Reply
    Cathy Fishburn
    February 27, 2017 at 7:58 am

    As if the pesto pasta and wine staring at me as I read the recipe was not enough I can almost taste the cheesecake. The problem I can’t start dreaming with wine, pasta and cheesecake ! It is not 8AM yet and I am at work!! I will make this cheesecake though and if Jan is lucky I might share it with him.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 28, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      It makes a pretty large cheesecake Cathy, you’d have to be really hungry to devour it all. You are too cute. xoxox

  • Reply
    February 24, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    I have first hand knowledge of this cheesecake and it is INCREDIBLE !!!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 24, 2017 at 10:53 pm

      Awww Nicol, you rock. I am sure you only tasted a centimeter of it, but at least you did taste it! Thanks for the sweet words and for being an awesome friend.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2017 at 9:51 am

    I’m suddenly very hungry.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 24, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      Awww Vic, if I make it again anytime soon, I’ll bring you a piece. Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    The Seething Brain
    February 24, 2017 at 5:25 am

    Really awesome cheesecake. Had the last little piece yesterday. Yum!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 24, 2017 at 9:16 am

      So glad you enjoyed it!!!!!xoxo

  • Reply
    February 24, 2017 at 4:23 am

    Hi Fran

    I’ve been a fan of your blog since I somehow came across it while on vacation in the summer of 2015. I really enjoy it and can relate to so much of what you write because I’m from New Brighton, too. As a matter of fact, I remember you because you were in the same class as my sister, Sharon Spickerman, and my cousin, Gretchen Spickerman. I was 2 years younger (still am 🙂 For whatever reason, I also remember your mom, and especially enjoy stories about her.

    I’ve been meaning to write for a while, but finally am doing it now because there’s an important mistake in your typed version of the cheesecake. You typed 2 cups of melted butter in the crust…it should be 1cup (2 sticks according to the hand written instructions).

    Back to the blog, It has produced a lot of laughs, and tears, and many nods of the head as I picture events you’ve described. Thank you for writing…keep it up!!

    Betty Jo Spickerman Couch

    Sent from my iPad


    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 24, 2017 at 9:20 am

      Betty Jo! Thank you so much for the correction, of course you are right. I’m sure Donna would have written soon to tell me the same, but I fixed it as soon as I read your post. So glad you’re enjoying the writing. I do it because I love doing it, and it’s always nice when people appreciate what you do. Thanks so much for taking the time to send such a sweet note. xoxoxo!

      Gretchen was a good friend of mine!

  • Reply
    Bob Erbeck
    February 24, 2017 at 12:23 am

    That sounds delicious! My mouth is watering.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      February 24, 2017 at 9:16 am

      Thanks Bob!!! And thanks for reading!

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