This is my brother's tried and true cheesecake recipe. He's famous for his cheesecake among my family and any Oakland jetBlue crewmembers. He still gets requests for it from friends, family and former co-workers for birthday parties.
(to toast the almonds, spread evenly on aluminum foil and bake in toaster oven until they start to turn brown)
Combine the graham crackers and toasted almonds in a food processor to turn into crumbs. Put in a bowl and add sugar and enough butter to get the right consistency (damp sand). Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" or 10"spring-form pan. It's okay if you don't end up using all of it. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes to harden the crust a bit.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl until well blended (smooth and without any cream cheese lumps). Add eggs 1 at a time until just combined. Pour into the baked and slightly cooled shell and bake for about an hour and 10 minutes (70 minutes) until the edges are set but the center slightly quivers when the pan is shaken. Center should be almost set but not stiff when it comes out because it’ll cook for a few minutes as it cools. Let cool on a wire rack until its cool enough to touch, then you can cool it in the refrigerator. It’ll get denser as it cools. Run a thin knife around the edge carefully to release it from the side of the pan. Release the sides and cut to serve.
This is a great basic cheesecake that tastes good by itself or with pretty much any kind of fruit topping. The toasted almonds add a wonderful nutty flavor to the crust. But if you have an allergy, you can leave them out.
Don't stress if you end up with the Grand Canyon in the top of your cheesecake. It happens to me most of the time, even when I pull it out of the oven at the right time. Some claim that baking the cheesecake in a water bath can prevent it, but I've never tried. I just fill the canyon with fruit topping and no one ever knows. :-)
To make a caramel cheesecake, leave out the lemon juice. Then add caramel in layers with the filling so that the caramel is distributed evenly.