Graham Cracker Crust:
1 cup (4 ounces) graham cracker crumbs (8 whole crackers, broken into rough pieces and processed in food processor until uniformly fine)
1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional 1 tablespoon melted butter for greasing pan
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks and left to stand at room temperature for 30-45 minutes
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks plus 6 large whole eggs
You will also need:
Rimmed baking sheet (to catch spills/leakage during baking)
Springform pan (This one is Pampered Chef and I really like the glass bottom to it.)
A good large spatula or (my preference) spoonula. (Again, Pampered Chef makes this one.)
Pastry brush (for brushing butter in pan)
A good stand mixer (because that's a lot of cream cheese) with paddle attachment
For the crust: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees (F). Combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar in medium bowl; add 5 tablespoons melted butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened. Brush bottom and sides of springform pan with most of remaining melted butter, making sure to leave enough to brush pan later. Empty crumbs into springform pan and press evenly into pan bottom using a small ramekin (pictured below). Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around edges, about 13 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.
For the cheesecake filling: Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. In stand mixer, beat cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute.
Scrape beater and bottom/sides of bowl well with spoonula; add salt and about half of sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl; beat in remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl; add sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla, and beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl; add yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl; add whole eggs two at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute and scraping bowl between additions.
(In case you didn't notice, scraping the bowl is very important.)
Brush sides of springform pan with remaining melted butter. Set springform pan on rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into cooled crust. It will be FULL.
Bake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes; without opening oven door, reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake about 1 1/2 hours.
Yes, seriously... 500 degrees.
Transfer cake to wire rack and cool 5 minutes; run paring knife between cake and side of springform pan. cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours. (Cake can be refrigerated up to 4 days.)
Unmold cheesecake, move to other serving platter if desired, and slice while still cold. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes prior to serving.