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Hoka Cheesecake

You won't be able to resist this sweet, rich, creamy Hoka Cheesecake! - Bake or Break

Many of you know that I lived my entire life in Mississippi until we moved to New York in 2010. My favorite town in Mississippi is Oxford. I lived there while I was in college and still visited often in the years following my graduation. It has the kind of character that’s exactly what you want a small Southern town to be.

Years ago, there was a place there called The Hoka, named after a Chickasaw princess. It was a combination of movie theater, coffee shop, and cafe. I could tell you many things about The Hoka, but it’s most important that you know that they made the very best cheesecake.

The famous Hoka Cheesecake is so wonderfully soft, rich, and amazingly delicious! - Bake or Break

During my most recent attempt at cookbook purging, I rediscovered Square Table, a cookbook filled with recipes from Oxford restaurants along with stories from local writers. As I flipped through it, I found that I had heavily bookmarked the recipe for Hoka Cheesecake. I quickly assessed my cream cheese supply and got to baking.

The first bite of cheesecake, and I was instantly hit with so much nostalgia for that quirky little cafe. The cheesecake was just as soft and delicate and all-out fantastic as I remembered. It’s rich but in the best possible way. And it has such amazing vanilla flavor. (Those vanilla amounts in the recipe aren’t typos!)

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that I’ve made this cheesecake twice since then. The first time I made it, it was really good but I wanted to make a couple of changes. The first change was the pan. I initially baked it in a dark pan, and it baked a bit unevenly. So trust me when I tell you that a light pan (I have this one) will serve you far better.

You won't be able to resist this sweet, rich, creamy Hoka Cheesecake! - Bake or Break

I also changed the crust to my usual graham cracker crust. The original had a lot of butter and sugar, but I have found that less butter makes the crust less messy and less sugar lets the flavor of the graham crackers come through a little better.

Calling this a “plain cheesecake” is just wrong. True, there aren’t any other flavor additions. It’s all about the cream cheese and vanilla. But the few ingredients in this recipe come together to make one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. Try it, and I think you’ll agree that it’s anything but plain!

Visit the Recipe Index for more cheesecake recipes!

Hoka Cheesecake

Yield 12 to 16 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes

The famous Hoka Cheesecake is wonderfully soft, rich, and amazingly delicious!

You won't be able to resist this sweet, rich, creamy Hoka Cheesecake! - Bake or Break

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 7 ounces graham cracker crumbs (about 1 & 3/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 24 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla extract*

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Reserve 1/4 cup of the crust mixture for the topping.
  4. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

To make the filling:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the butter, eggs, and vanilla, and mix well.
  2. Pour the filling mixture onto the crust and spread evenly. Place the pan on a lined, rimmed baking sheet to catch any leaks.
  3. Bake for 1 hour, or until the top is lightly browned and the cheesecake jiggles slightly.
  4. Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. (The cheesecake will sink a bit in the middle as it cools.)

To make the topping:

  1. Combine the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Spread over the partially cooled cheesecake.
  2. Return the cheesecake to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the top of the cheesecake.
  4. Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving.

Notes

*There's a lot of vanilla in this cheesecake. I recommend using a good quality vanilla for the best results.

Recipe slightly adapted from Square Table.

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    29 Comments on “Hoka Cheesecake”

  1. This sounds delicious:) What do you think of vanilla bean paste? Have you tried that? 

    • I’ve not tried it, Lori, but I really like baking with it. It’s usually a 1:1 substitution. But, there’s so much vanilla in here that adding that much thick paste could be an issue. I’d try substituting part of the extract for paste. Maybe try half extract and half paste?

  2. Hi, Jennifer! For some unknown reason, I missed until today that you’re from Mississippi! Goodness! I live in Pontotoc and visit Oxford often. I never knew about The Hoka, though. Hate I missed that! BUT I will be making this cheesecake soon, thanks to you. 🙂

    • What a small world, Beverly! I grew up in Booneville and then lived in Tupelo after graduation until we moved to New York. I always try to make it to Oxford when I’m visiting my family. I hope you like the cheesecake!

  3. i don’t know it by this name, but it’s an awesome cheesecake no matter what you call it!

  4. I’ve been following your blog the past year and had no idea you were originally from MS! I grew up in Jackson and went to school in Oxford (now live in DC) – have this cookbook and you just inspired me to get it back out and to try your take on this delicious cheesecake!

  5. Another native Mississippian here. My four years in Oxford were after the Hoka was no more, but my friends and cousins still talk about it with reverence. There’s a documentary online about it here: https://vimeo.com/2236933

  6. My love of cheesecake is basically relegated to the crust with a speck of the cheesecake stuff.  This would be just what I would love being that there is crust on the top and the bottom.  I may have to try this.

  7. I did not know that you are a southern girl! Both my mama and grandmother grew up in Mississippi (Mama in Brookhaven and Ma-Ma in Magnolia, so WAY south). When Mama was first married and a new mother with my older brother, my dad was transferred to Massachusetts. She’s never been as miserable as she was, because no one would talk to her (clearly not like it is in the south). Maybe they couldn’t understand her…whatever. She made my grandmother (who was newly widowed) come stay with her for awhile, just so she would have company. I hope that your transition to the north has been a bit smoother than Mama’s was. And this cheesecake!! Yes, please!! I do love my desserts. 🙂 

    • Bless her heart! Yes, it’s different up here, but we really love it. My grandparents lived in Chicago for a while when my grandfather couldn’t find work locally. I know that it was quite a culture shock for them! 

  8. Hey Jennifer
    This cheesecake sounds like a big YUM!  I was curious as it states to use a springform pan however in one of your pictures it shows it in a beautiful looking dish and it looks like it was baked in there. Now did you just transfer the whole cheesecake to that dish after it was baked or was it baked in it?  Also thank you for your many many great recipes. 

    • Hi, Leigh. It definitely needs to be baked in a springform pan. I just transferred it to a serving plate after it was baked and chilled. Many springform pans have a rim around the bottom that makes it hard to remove the cheesecake. The springform pan I used (which you can find here) for the one you see in the photos doesn’t have that rim, so it’s much easier to transfer it.

  9. Hi Jennifer- I had to write and tell you how good this cheesecake is and how easy it was to make. 
    Since my husband eats only vanilla ice cream, and he loves cheesecake, I knew he would love it with all the vanilla flavor.  Since he likes to eat graham checkers in a bowl with milk (like cereal) I knew the crust was was a win, win with the vanilla cheesecake. He loved it and said it was perfect the way it was and not to change a thing, but I think next time I will substitute some or even just add a little vanilla bean to it and see how he likes it.
    Also, I think it would taste great with some cherry pie filling on top for a different taste once in a while since he has requested me to make it often.  I’m also looking forward to making it for my next dinner party. Thanks for the great recipe and also for so many other great recipes I have made off your blog.  I look forward to your newsletter to see what I can make next!  Bette

  10. I recently saw this recipe appear on Facebook and decided to give it a try. My in-laws are here for Easter, and so we dove into it last night. This is an excellent recipe! Perfectly creamy, rich. Not too dense, nor too airy. I followed the recipe to a T. Thank you for this!

  11. I posted on the Oxford and Ole Miss page. John

  12. Sounds delicious!!! I grew up in Oxford *Hotty Toddy* but now I live in VA Beach VA where true southern folk are few and far between. I really miss all the local spots *Abners, Handy Andy’s, The Beacon, Phillips Grocery, The Library, etc…* I could go on forever. Can’t wait to take one of these to work, and show my co-workers a taste of the real South. 

  13. The Hoka was the counter-cultural heart at the center of Oxford for decades, Thanks for posting, any re-created bite from the old Hoka menu is truly a time warp full of awesome.

  14. Love to bake cheesecakes and they are always a hit. I’m putting this on my to bake list. Just a crust note to add – for many years I’ve substituted cinnamon or honey grahams, etc, then only have to add melted butter. Works & tastes great.

  15. Oh, how I miss the Hoka. I might even have an old t-shirt around somewhere… I remember the cheesecake well. I stumbled on your blog from a suggested Insta post, and I’m so glad! I’m make chocolate chip snack cake today, but this seems like a perfect recipe to bookmark for the upcoming holidays.

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