Grease the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.
Combine the crust ingredients and pat down firmly in bottom of the pan. Place in the freezer while making rest of cake (this will prevent crumbs from getting mixed into the filling).
In a large mixer bowl, beat filling ingredients in order listed, adding each one by one and beating until thoroughly mixed. (Blend ingredients until smooth, but do not beat vigorously. Doing so will cause too much air to be introduced, causing the cheesecake batter to expand during baking and then deflate. This can lead to cracks as it cools.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius) and continue baking for an additional 40 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven for 45–60 minutes. Cool to room temperature (about two hours) and then refrigerate.
Decorate the top of the cheesecake with slices of colorful fruit – strawberry, persimmon, kiwi, etc. – for a beautiful presentation, or drizzle with caramel topping (slightly warmed) and sprinkle pieces of candied pecans. (You may have to level off the top before decorating). You can top with pie filling of your choice, too. However, it is just superb as is, without a topping.
Run a knife gently around the rim of the springform pan, after removing the cake from the oven, to prevent it from deflating.
A cheesecake is done when the edges are slightly puffed and the top is dry to the touch. The edges should look firm and may have some tiny cracks, which will disappear as the cheesecake cools. The center of the cake should move slightly when the pan is tapped, but it shouldn’t ripple as if liquid. Although cheesecake is soft when warm and freshly baked, it becomes firm as it cools and even firmer after being refrigerated.
Add 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and/or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the crust ingredients for more crunch and depth of flavor.