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Masthead header


 Without a doubt this is the world’s best cheesecake. It’s my mother, Anna’s secret recipe.

She kept it classified “Top Secret” for decades. Here’s the story.


 Perino’s Restaurant first opened in Los Angeles in 1932. Years later, in 1950, it moved to a new location on Wilshire Boulevard just up the street from our home.


It was a glamorous dining spot filled nightly with stars of varying degrees of brightness: Frank Sinatra stained the piano with his martinis. Bette Davis had her own booth reserved for her at all times. Charlie Chaplin always ordered Perino’s pumpernickel cheese toast. Cary Grant always had Steak Diane. The mobster, “Bugsy” Siegel was a regular patron before his demise and Cole Porter wrote a song on the back of a Perino’s menu.

But, back to the story of my mother’s recipe. One of her closest friends was her neighbor, Mary. Now Mary had a ‘gentleman friend’ who ate at Perino’s often. He loved their cheesecake.  Over time, he befriended the chef who, one day, gave him his personal (and very secret) cheesecake recipe. Secrecy being what it is, he gave the recipe to Mary and Mary immediately gave it to my mother. Then they vowed to not give it to anyone else.

Once my mother had baked her first cheesecake from this recipe, she pronounced it ‘perfection’ and locked the magic formula away. In her eyes, this was like discovering the philosopher’s stone and she was going to keep this bit of culinary alchemy safely hidden!

And that’s what she did, for decades. But, at the same time, she would bake cheesecakes for every family member, friend, celebration or event, be it holiday, birthday, funeral or bris. Everyone adored this dessert and my mother became famous for it. She was generous with her cheesecakes but she never divulged the recipe. It wasn’t until she was seventy-seven years old and in poor health, that I went to her apartment and finally found the recipe. Now, I want to share it with the world in memory of my mother, Anna, and to honor her good taste and her guardianship of one of baking’s great triumphs.

But before I do, here’s a wonderful story which captures so much of my mother’s personality.

Vintage telephone dial

In 1967, my mother went to visit her family in New Jersey. I called her and this is how the conversation went.

Me:     Hi Mom, how’s the family?

Mom: Everyone’s fine. Thank God.

Me:     So what have you been doing?

Mom: Well, my girl friend, Lillian from Los Angeles called and asked me to visit her son, Dusty, in New York City. She’s worried he’s not eating enough. She says he’s skinny so I made him a cheesecake and bought him a corned beef sandwich.Then I took the train into the city, walked up the stairs to his apartment and gave him my cheesecake and the sandwich. At least I can tell Lillian that I saw Dusty, fed him and he’s OK.

Me:      You mean you went to the trouble of making one of your cheesecakes and took the train all the way into New York just to feed Lillian’s son?

Mom:  Of course. I knew Dusty needed food.

Me:      Dusty?

Mom:  Yes, Dusty.

Me:      Dusty? You don’t mean Dustin Hoffman do you?

Mom:   Yeh, sure, it’s Lillian Hoffman’s son, Dusty.

Me:      Wait a second. Lillian, the woman you play cards with is Dustin’s Hoffman’s mother?

Mom:   Yeh, sure, Lillian Hoffman.

Me:      Do you know who he is?

Mom:  Yeh, He’s Lillian Hoffman’s son. Dusty. You should see how skinny he is and oy, the way he lives. I was doing such a blessing by bringing him food.

Me:      Mom! That’s Dustin Hoffman! He’s a very famous actor. Did you know that? I mean really famous!

Mom:  Famous, shamous. All I know is that he needs food. I don’t know how he expects to be an actor. He’s not handsome. He’s short and skinny. But he has a very nice personality…

Dustin Hoffman then and now




10 inch Springform pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees


2 cups of Graham Cracker Crumbs (Nabisco -13 1/2 oz. box)

1/4 pound butter (1 stick)

Pinch of cinnamon

Melt the butter and mix with the cinnamon and graham cracker crumbs

Press down into pan (a little bit higher on the sides)

Bake for 5 minutes at 350, take out of oven and let it cool)

Turn off oven


Four 8 oz. packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese at room temperature

4 eggs

1 Cup Sugar

Pinch of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of cake or regular flour

Put cream cheese into a mixing bowl ( 4 pkgs of cream cheese)

Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour, pinch of cinnamon and beat mixture

Add 1 egg at a time and beat into mixture

Add mixture into pan

Bake 40 minutes at 375


After baking the filling remove from oven. Let cool for  30 minutes before smoothing the topping onto the cake.


1 pint container or sour cream

3 tablespoons of sugar

1 tsp of vanilla or almond extract

Beat several minutes together. Smooth on top of cheesecake. Bake for 8 minutes.

Take out cake and place on something to cool. Place in fridge overnight.

Take off collar of spring form pan and pat more graham cracker crumbs onto the sides of the cake.


All images appearing on THE WORLD’S BEST CHEESECAKE RECIPE are the expressed property of Sandra Sallin. All rights reserved. In other words, don’t steal it!

Facebook Comments
  • Antonia - What a great story — cheesecake and “Dusty”.

    My mom was also famous for her cheesecake! She made it with a crust made from zweiback. Not sure you can even buy zweiback anymore. I can remember eating it as a small child.

    Love cheesecake — although I haven’t eaten a piece in years.

    The post brought back lots of great memories. Thanks.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Hi Antonia, yes they still make zweiback. I remember trying it when my granddaughter was a baby. I hadn’t eaten it in years either. After making it the taste brought back all the memories. It was just as if she’s make it.ReplyCancel

  • nancy - I make a no-bake cheese cake with Milnot! 🙁
    I’m going to try Anna’s.
    Oh, to sit for cake and coffee with our Moms…ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Yes, you’re right Nancy. When I bit into that cheesecake to test it. It just took me back to those days. Make it and think of my mom. A gift to the world.ReplyCancel

  • Arah - What a great story! I may have to try that recipe. I can’t believe you’re sharing it!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Hi Arah, I thought long and hard about sharing. I then asked some of my relatives and we decided that I would let it go into the world as a tribute to mom. So that Anna’s Cheesecake will be remembered with her name. It is soooo gooood!ReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - Thanks for sharing! Of course, you made me drool with those pictures, so I should thank you or blame you for the wet spots on my keyboard.
    Loved the story and it seems I will also love the cheesecake.

    I’ve eaten and also baked many others claiming to be World’s Best. Some are so involved and time consuming that I toss them aside. But this one seems like the true and pure that has been missing. No lemon even!

    One question: Does the sourcream topping go on prior to popping the whole thing into the cold oven?

    Oh my – cannot wait to get some of that into my mouth. It will happen before next Sunday evening, I promise.
    Thank you again.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Thanks for asking Julie. I just revised the recipe so that I hope it’s clearer. You put on the topping after the cake has been baked. I was literal and beat the topping for 7 minutes. Then when the cake was baked I put the topping on and baked it for 8 minutes. Let me know how you like it. I love it.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Flowers - An adorable and delicious story! Thanks for the fantastic recipe. (It will be our little secret.) 😉ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Yes, Lisa, don’t tell anyone. Keep it a secret. Let’s see how long that lasts. I’ll be curious to see how this travels on the internet.ReplyCancel

  • Ginger Kay - The recipe sounds like perfection, and I love the story about your mom and Dusty.ReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Wow, first off the recipe and how it came about sounds absolutely amazing. And the story of your mom meeting (feeding) Dustin Hoffman was too good to be true. Really a wonderful tribute to your mom and thank you so much for sharing it with all of us.ReplyCancel

  • KymberlyFunFit - Oy vay, such a skinny boy, that Dusty. Too cool a story. Was your mom a character through and through or just in these instances?ReplyCancel

    • sandra - You nailed it Kymberly, a character through and through. I heard her voice exactly as she spoke as I typed it out. So many stories and the life of the party.ReplyCancel

  • Shirley Abrams - I can’t believe you shared your mom’s secret cheesecake recipe. If only Harry had known. Actually your mom gave him the recipe and he used to make it but he also guarded the recipe and would not share it.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Hi Shirley, I thought a lot about it and asked members of the family. They all felt that it would be a tribute to her if it went out into the world as Anna’s Cheesecake. I’m so impressed that Harry had the recipe. We always knew he was special. Now everyone can enjoy Anna’s Secret Cheesecake recipe. It still tastes wonderful. I had a hard time putting down my fork.ReplyCancel

  • deborah briskin - hi sandy,
    i love this story!! and thanks for the cheesecake recipe too!
    keep up the great writing. i love it!

  • sandra - Thanks Deborah, Maybe Miles will make this recipe famous!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. - How I love your storytelling! I actually made an audible noise/gasp/snort when I read it was Dustin Hoffman- what a great delivery! I have never made a cheesecake, but I know if I ever do- it will be this one. YUM! I do love reading you now that I “know” you.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Hey Stephanie, Glad you enjoyed the story. I gasped when I found out who Dusty was also. I mean really. So glad to “know” you also. Such fun reading your blog.ReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - I could hear your mother’s voice with this. She had an accent that I have no idea about it being present in real life or not, but wow. Dustin Hoffman. And that cheesecake! He’s still skinny. And wow. Just wow. Your photos are amazing as well. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • sandra - Krisiti, how perceptive of you. Yes, she did have an accent that embarssed her. We all loved it, but she hated being a greenhorn. Her words and the way she spoke simply poured out of me onto the page. Glad you liked the photos.ReplyCancel

  • lisa thomson - Fabulous story, Sandra. I’ve got the cake in the oven right now. So, it’s okay to put the topping out while the cake is still hot? Just wanted to check. I’m making it for my stepson’s birthday tomorrow. He always requests my cheesecake for his b-day and so I hope he likes Anna’s recipe! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • sandra - I let it cool a little Lisa. But I don’t think it matters because you putting the cake in the oven right away. But it is important to make sure you leave it in the fridge over night. Another reader make this and wanted to send me a photo. But the cheesecake was devoured before she could even get a shot. 🙂 Enjoy, and let me know.ReplyCancel

  • lisa thomson - Thanks, Sandra! 15 more mins. then I’ll let it cool slightly. Yes, definitely will refrigerate it overnight. Thanks again for sharing your mom’s special recipe. I’ll let you know how he likes (loves) it!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Can’t wait to here how he likes it Lisa. My mother put sliced Kiwi fruit on the top, but I never liked it so I didn’t incude it in the recipe. I guess she liked the addition of green. If she couln’t use parsley she’d use Kiwi. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - I don’t see my previous comment, so am starting fresh. I mad ethe cheesecake last weekend. I felt concern that the center seemed “loose”. I cooled it anyway and then put in fridge till next day. My son had friends over, and they all had their way with that cake. When I next checked on it in fridge it was well on the way to being demolished. These are guys who all have families known for being great “old fashioned” scratch cooks. They all know good – great food. Really do. A few were here again next day, digging back into the cheesecake. I hereby testify it is successfully received.

    One note: I learned from Sandra next day that one is supposed to to allow the cake to cool prior to applying the topping and putting back in the oven for that last bake. Wonder how much better it would have been in that case? Oh well, must make it again.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Julie, thannks for your review. I reread my mother’s instructions. She does not say to cool the bottom part of the cake before putting on the topping. I think I took the cake out of the oven, let it rest while I was beating the topping simply because I was concerned about the heat affecting the sourcream. So maybe the answer is to make the topping while the cake rests on the counter. Then smooth the topping on.ReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - Next time I will just do it as you describe you do yourself.
    As for kiwi slices – well – I think I prefer strawberry halves, or wonderful little raspberries. Next time!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Julie, in some of my photos not used there was a cookbook opened to a cheesecake with rasberries on top. I love the idea of straberries or rasberries.ReplyCancel

  • Carpool Goddess - Omg, this cheesecake looks amazing! My grandmother made a great one too. I must compare recipes 🙂ReplyCancel

    • sandra - I’m warning you Linda, make a plan for getting it out of the house. You will not be able to stop eating it. I coudln’t.ReplyCancel

  • Krystle Cook - I love cheesecake. I’ve only attempted to make it once and it didn’t turn out well. I will have to try this recipe sometime.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - It is so good Krystle, I had to give it away for fear I’d eat the whole thing.ReplyCancel

  • French Madame - Hello Sandra! This recipe looks A-mazing! The cheesecake looks to light and fluffy. I’m definitely bookmarking the recipe, and saving it to make for the holidays. You might find it on my other blog http://www.parislovespastry.com, but I will credit you and link your blog! 🙂

    I haven’t been to Monet’s gardens! Is it in Paris? Or elsewhere in France? Dying to know!


    • sandra - Dear French Madame, Giverny is in Vernon. It is a must see. it’s about a half hour I believe by train out of Paris. I know a friend decided to drive there and got lost. I found the train to be just fine. It is a must see for anyone who loves Monet, Impressionism, art, and gardens.
      Hope you enjoy the cheesecake. We all love it.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Steck - That’s fantastic! I love those kinds of stories. I met a woman on my trip to Antarctica whose sister dated Elvis Presley before he made it big. Her family thought he was full of himself. Who knows? Maybe the cheesecake got Dustin motivated.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Glad you enjoyed the story. It was just so funny putting together the Dusty with the Dustin. I’m sure my mother never saw him act. But he did enjoy the cheesecake.ReplyCancel

  • Solo Mama - Thank you for being kind enough to share your mother’s recipe with us. I’ve wanted to try my hand at baking a cheesecake for some time now. This recipe I’m sure will put to bed the usual icebox pie that I’ve made in the past. In the photos you posted, it looks absolutely delicious w/a bit of history in every bite! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • sandra - To be honest, I wanted her recipe to go down in history. I wanted the world to be able to share it. It’s so good I can only eat a few bites. Well, maybe more. 🙂 I love the story though about Mom and Dusty.ReplyCancel

  • jezrel - What an interesting story. Stumbled upon your blog while googling for a cheesecake recipe. Love your blog especially your craft. Awesome paintings! Will definitely try your Mom’s cheesecake recipe. Thanks for sharing with us this lovely tribute to your Mom.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Thanks for reading Jezrel. It’s nice knowing that my mother lives thoughout the world not only in our memories and hearts but in her cheesecake recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Liz - YummyReplyCancel

  • judy - What oven temp. for the sour cream topping??ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Return the cheesecake with the topping into the 375 degree oven. Hope it turned out well. We love it. Sorry I have not been active on my blog. I had surgery and have not gotten back into blogging. I do appreciate your interest. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Jerry - Hi Sandra,
    Wow, your recipe looks great. 2 questions for you. Do you let the cheesecake totally cool before putting it in the fridge? and also, do you take off the collar of the the spring form pan before putting it in the fridge?

    • sandra - Yes, I let it totally cool and then put it in the fridge. I know this sounds terrible but I think I leave it in the spring form pan while it is in the fridge. Then I remove it and use a knife to scrape the sides of the pan so that I can lick the crumbs off. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Marilyn - Thank you for this recipe, it has become a Thanksgiving tradition now, I just took it out of the oven . My family, including the Grandkids, ask for it. I always skip through blogs with recipes, but really enjoyed yours.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Oh, thank you. My mother would be so happy!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Delport - Like your page and would to ty some of your recipe’sReplyCancel

    • sandra - Hope you try them and enjoy them! Thanks for reading.ReplyCancel

  • Ruby - Love the sound of your mother’s cheesecake but at what temperature do you bake the sour cream topping? ThanksReplyCancel

    • sandra - You keep the temperature at 375. Hope that helps.ReplyCancel

  • shirley good - looks wonderful thank you made me smile big and wide during our incessant floods here in Texas I WONDER if anyone in or oout of the food business find that the flavor of graham crackers have a preservative flavor whereas the fillings are delicious… I have used ginger snaps and its preferable and usd it for thanksgiving but surely someone has a better idea… how about shortbread? or making a good cookie recipe from scratch and then proceed.
    For sure our ancestors did not bang up a pkt of nabisco with a rolling pin or a food processor ha! I shall be making your recipe and topping so any ideas for he base will be appreciated and enjoyed… ThanksReplyCancel

    • sandra - I just watched Bobie Flay create a cheesecake and he used graham crackers. But he put them into a plastic bag and bashed them with a rolling pin. I’ll try that. Thanks for the suggestion. Those floods are devastating! Hope you’re OK.ReplyCancel

  • barbara roberts - I loved your story of your mother! We should hear more feel good stories during the day rather than the Orlando story we are listening to today! What has the world come to? Prayers to the Orlando families.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - I completely agree with you. It’s a shame the world has come to this. I’m glad you enjoyed the stories about my mother. More to come. Thanks again for reading my posts.ReplyCancel

  • sandra - From email:

    : Sandra Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii I just discovered the recipe for annes cheesecake, my mom has just turned 80 and what an incredible woman she is. She has been a baker her whole life, I often wonder one day what will happem to her baking tools, and all her perfected recipes. I am from South Africa, where can I follow your blogs, I find you very interesting. Much love in good health MichelleReplyCancel

    • sandra - Oh, please save all of her tools. I have my mothers and they remind me of her every time I use them. Make sure you understand all of her recipes. They are gold. Too many people have told me that they never asked their mother or grandmother how to make her dishes. Don’t let that happen to you! Good luck.ReplyCancel

  • sandra - From Jane through email:

    Dear Sandra: I just wanted to drop you a quick line to say thank you for letting us have the privilege of making your mom’s cheesecake recipe – I was searching online for a great cheesecake recipe and found yours and decided to make it. I little history first – I currently coach Olympic athletes here in London and my olympic divers love cheesecake and I had promised them a special treat because they work so very hard. It is always special when I bring them a treat because they are on a very strict nutrition program. I made your cheesecake for the whole British Diving Team who are currently in London for a very big competition. It was the first time I used your recipe and I cannot tell you in words how incredibly delicious and amazing it was. They absolutely were so delighted and in awe of how the cake tasted – in fact they couldn’t believe that I could make such a thing!!!! I told them about your wonderful recipe and they were so excited. I put it together just like you said and then put fresh fruit on top to really make it look and taste amazing. I am now making the second one for the volunteers at the London Olympic Aquatic centre because they have been so kind and nice so I thought I would make their day and say thanks by making them your cheesecake. I know they will love it and I will be sure to tell them where I got it from. Your mom and you have made so many of us very happy and brought a lot of sunshine into our lives by allowing us to have your beautiful delicious cheesecake recipe – thank you from all of us and I can’t wait to keep brightening peoples days with your incredible cake. I will send you some pictures along the way – keep in mind I am by no means a baker. Just trying to do my best Thanks again and hope you are having an awesome day. Look for us in the upcoming Rio Olympics – watch for Tom Daley who will be diving mens 10m platform – he loves loves loves your cheesecake!!!! Bye for now Jane Figueiredo British Olympic CoachReplyCancel

    • sandra - Dear Jane,

      You have made my day and year! I will send this to my family who are very protective of my mother’s cheesecake recipe. They’ll love it also! Go Britain! Tell Tom he’s got a whole group of Americans that are rooting for him!!!!



  • sandra - Via Email:
    : Sandra Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
    I just discovered the recipe for annes cheesecake, my mom has just turned 80 and what an incredible woman she is.

    She has been a baker her whole life, I often wonder one day what will happem to her baking tools, and all her perfected recipes.

    I am from South Africa, where can I follow your blogs, I find you very interesting.

    Much love in good health

    • sandra - Oh, Please save your mother’s baking tools. It will mean so much to you or anyone who has known and loved her. Also, preserve her recipes. These are all so important. I’m so glad you enjoy my blog. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • SWIMMING WITH CHEESECAKE » Apart From My Art - […] little while ago, I posted a blog about my mother, Anna’s cheesecake recipe. I wrote at the time that it was without a doubt, […]ReplyCancel

    • Lillian Plummer - Loved reading your story about your mom and Lillian Hoffman. Imagine Dusty would have been a good son as he comes across as a really lovely man.
      I am going to make Anna’s cheesecake and relay the history behind it. Love your blog and may it continue. Love and best wishes from another Lillian in HK.xxReplyCancel

      • sandra - Thanks Lillian. Yes, he adored his mother and his grandmother. Was so good to them. Enjoy and story and the cheesecake.ReplyCancel

  • Selena - I baked this cheesecake recipe, however, mine did not come out as yours does. Can I ask why? I copied the recipe and baked as you said.
    Maybe its my oven? It is a gas oven? Please help Sandra, I would love to make cheesecake like the one you made for my family.

    Thank you,

    • sandra - I have a gas oven also. Is yours calibrated. What was the problem?ReplyCancel

  • Liliya - Hi, Sandra, I am originaly from Russia living in Australia. Your mum’s cheesecake recipe and the story with Dustin Hoffman impressed me much. I’d like to share this recipe with my russian friends in Russia as well as in Australia. All our people know actor Dustin Hoffman and love his works. What a nice story from your mum!Thank you very much!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - So glad ou enjoyed this. Did you read my story of how my mother escaped Russia with rags on her feet? I think as a Russian you would enjoy that story also.ReplyCancel

  • Stella Martin - Can’t wait to make. La Contessa sent me to your site!ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoy my mom’s cheesecake.ReplyCancel

  • Lynette - I cannot wait to try this cheesecake! Thanks so much for sharing!!ReplyCancel

  • Yulianna - Hi, Thanks for sharing!. I am from Puerto Rico, I was looking in the internet for a old cheesecake recipe that i love and loose. I dont find it, but find yours, so i want to try it. Now is in the oven, the time here is 1am and is for fathers day, that we celebrate tomorrow, hope that i make it great.. i let you know.ReplyCancel

    • sandra - Good luck. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has. Hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day!ReplyCancel

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