There’s nothing better than a smooth creamy cheesecake. If you can’t find key limes simply substitute with freshly squeezed lime juice. The lime zest and juice provide a nice balance to the richness of the cheesecake.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted – plus more for buttering the pan
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
3 limes, zested
3/4 cup key lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
Thin lime slices for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9 by 3 inch springform pan. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a bowl and mix well. Pat the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake the crust for 7 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the cream cheese with a paddle at medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar and beat until blended. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the lime zest, lime juice and vanilla extract and mix until blended.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk until they begin to expand. Gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, increase the speed to high and beat to soft peaks. Fold the whites into the cream cheese mixture 1/3 at a time and place batter into the prepared pan.
In a roasting pan or a larger baking pan place the cake and pour in enough hot water to come 1 inch up the side of the springform pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until just set. Leave cake in the water bath to cool then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
With a metal spatula, spread a thin layer of sour cream over the top of the cake and finish with thin lime slices.