2. SET out ingredients about 10 minutes before baking. This allows ingredients to come to the same temperature before baking. Cut cream cheese into cubes for faster softening and easier mixing.
|3. USE a 13 x 9-in. baking pan. Place foil over inverted 13 x 9-in. pan, leaving about 3 inches of foil extending on short sides of pan. Crease at corners to ensure a wrinkle-free foil liner. Remove foil liner; turn pan over and slip liner into pan. Pour cake mixture into foil-lined pan. Create "handles" by crunching extended foil.|
4. DO NOT over-beat. Over-stirring can add too much air into batter, which can cause cheesecake to crack. Beat in eggs, one at time, on low speed until just blended. Gently stir in flavoring ingredients such as chocolate, at the end of mixing process.
|5. PREHEAT oven. While preparing filling, heat oven to recommended temperature. Bake cheesecake on middle rack of oven. Help prevent cheesecake from cracking, by baking it in a moist oven. Place a 13 x 9-in. baking pan half-filled with hot tap water on bottom rack of oven while cheesecake bakes on middle rack.|
6. NO PEEKING Opening the oven door while cheesecake is baking causes drafts that may lead to cracking. Cheesecake is done if the top is slightly puffy and set except for a small area in the center that should still appear soft and jiggly (about the size of a silver dollar). This will set upon cooling.
7. LOOSEN IMMEDIATELY to prevent cracking. Immediately run a knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. Cool cheesecake, away from drafts, for about an hour before refrigerating. Lift up cooked and cooled cheesecake out of baking dish using handles. Place on plate, carefully removing foil from underneath. Decorate as desired.
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