Nora Ephron’s Cheesecake Recipe

image by David Shankbone from Wikimedia Commons

The talented Nora Ephron, born May 19, 1941, died yesterday (June 26, 2012) at the age of 71.  She is best known for her screenwriting of “Sleepless in Seattle” (which she also directed) and “When Harry Met Sally.”  She also wrote plays, essays, and novels.  I enjoyed reading her book of essays I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.  But my favorite of her books is the novel Heartburn.  And no, it’s not because it’s fabulously written or timeless or captivating or especially interesting.  It’s about her marriage to Carl Bernstein, fictionalized.  The protagonist is left by her husband for another woman while she’s pregnant.  It’s a pretty compelling theme, yet I like the novel because she shares her cheesecake recipe.  It’s a recipe I still use.

Nora Ephron’s Cheesecake

9-inch graham cracker pie crust

12 oz. cream cheese

4 well-beaten eggs

1 c sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 c sour cream

½ c sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Mix cream cheese, eggs, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla.  Pour into pie crust and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes.  In a separate bowl, mix sour cream and sugar.  Spread this mixture gently over cheesecake and bake 10 minutes more.  Cool and refrigerate several hours before serving.

Okay, so I have a confession.  It’s not really Nora Ephron’s recipe.  The main character of the novel (seemingly Nora Ephron) attributes it to a friend, who claims she just used the recipe from the back of the package on Philadelphia cream cheese.  This reminds me of the episode of friends, in which Phoebe gives Monica a cookie made from her great grandmother’s secret recipe.  Monica, ever the neurotic chef, spends the entire episode trying to recreate the cookie.  She adds exotic ingredients (cardamom) and mixes and matches measurements.  Finally, Phoebe explains the story again, saying in a ridiculous accent that her great grandmother’s name was “Nestlé Tollhouse.”  Yeah, it was from the package.  Sometimes those really are the best recipes.

Once I made this cheesecake for my dad when he came to visit.  He took one bite, looked at me in shock, and exclaimed, “Where did you get MY cheesecake recipe?”  We laughed when I explained.  It’s a classic recipe and most delicious, so it explains why people want to claim it as their own, or why they might think it’s a long lost secret recipe from the past.

And perhaps it is a relic of the past, just as Nora Ephron will now be.  She was magnificent artist, a creative writer, and a sharp wit whose talents will be missed on the silver screen, in print, and on the web.  Rest in peace, Nora Ephron, and thanks for the perfect cheesecake.

Click here to see her obituary in the Los Angeles Times.


15 thoughts on “Nora Ephron’s Cheesecake Recipe

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  1. I read “I Feel Bad About My Neck…” and it was so funny. It’s sad that such a talented woman is no longer in the world. Anyway, I’m going to read “Heartburn” after reading your post. Thanks!

  2. Hi Emily, nice post! And by the look of it a great recipe as well! Is there any chance you would consider putting ‘Pinterest’ share button under this article? I would like to pin it to my board in order to easily find it when I need it (read: when I need cheesecake fix!) 😉


    1. I have to confess that I don’t know how to put a Pinterest button underneath, and I am honestly not sure if WordPress allows that. The code is hard to see. But, I did pin it to Pinterest just by using the Pinterest button that you can grab and put on your browser. Try that. I know. That was so not helpful, but it’s the best I can do! 🙂

  3. I absolutely love her movies but have never read any of her written work… Thanks for introducing me to it. I think I will watch a few of my favorites this week in her honor.

  4. We had a moment of silence at work this morning to mark Nora Ephron’s passing. Her movies were an integral part of my late teens and early twenties, and I’m grateful for the love, understanding and humour she communicated to her audience. Maybe we’ll watch one of her movies and eat her cheesecake to celebrate her life this weekend.

  5. It was indeed sad news. I liked Nora Ephron’s gently biting humour and must read the essays you mentioned. Thank you also for the cheesecake recipe. I LOVE cheesecake. Problem is, it’s hard getting Graham Crackers in the UK…

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