Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vanilla bean cheesecake take deux

Have you ever indulged in the joy that is a silky cheesecake enhanced simply with pure vanilla, specks of black vanilla beans scattered through out its creamy interior? No? Well then my dear readers, its time that you get your taste buds ready for a serious trip! Vanilla bean cheesecake is one of the few things that can make this die hard chocoholic say "chocolate what? Who cares if there's chocolate, unless you want to put it on this cheesecake!"

Its amazing to me that we use the term 'vanilla' to describe something boring and plain. Real vanilla is anything BUT that! There are over 170 different flavor compounds in vanilla. Its harvested from the seed pod of an orchid originating from Mexico. Vanilla is very difficult to grow - the flowers must be pollinated by hand - and they only grow in certain areas of the world, something that you see translated into their cost.

I was asked to make this cheesecake for my nephew Ben's 9th birthday. It was only when we were almost done that I realized that D'oh! I don't have a good picture of the cheesecake yet!! Sorry folks, the power of the vanilla took over and photography was my last concern :) The texture of this cheesecake was light and fluffy, not dense. After being outside in the park for a few hours the cake's texture softened a lot and it was very difficult to cut, which contributed to photography issues as well. All in all, the cake was delicious, the birthday boy enjoyed it and had a fun day and since there was only 1/2 a slice left, I'd have to say it was a success!

Vanilla Bean cheesecake
makes about 16 servings
5 blocks cream cheese
1 c sour cream
4 eggs
1 c sugar
3 T flour
3 vanilla beans OR 2 T vanilla bean paste
1 T good vanilla extract
1 sleeve graham crackers, crushed to crumbs
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup), melted
1/4 c sugar

Allow cream cheese and eggs to come to room temp. first. Leave them on the counter top for a few hours.

preheat oven to 325.

Make crust:
Combine the graham crumbs, 1/4 c sugar and butter together until it resembles wet sand. Press into a springform pan thats been lines with parchment on the sides. Tamp crust with the bottom of a glass. Bake crust at 325F for 10 minutes while you assemble the filling.

Make the batter:
In the work bowl of a stand mixer cream the cheese until its smooth. Scrap down the sides often. Add the sugar, lemon, flour, vanilla beans scraped from pod and vanialla extract. Beat until smooth.

~*~To scrape vanilla bean pod cut a slit in the bean across the length. Spread it open and you'll see glossy black stuff. That's the vanilla beans. Take the back of your knife and firmly run it along the length of the pod, scraping out the seeds.~*~

Wrap bottom of a spring form pan in aluminium foil. Put the spring form pan on a sheet tray, then pour the batter into the spring form pan. Place the sheet tray with the cake in the oven and then add boiling water to the sheet tray making a water bath. The water will only come up about 1 inch on the springform pan but it's enough to provide the gentle heat and moisture for the cake to bake with out cracking.

~*~Kitchen Witch Tip: Water baths are a great way of cooking a dense custard like cheesecake. A water bath and it will insure that your cheesecake bakes evenly and slowly and doesn't crack. You can skip the water bath step - however cracked dried out cheesecake may result.~*~

Cook cheesecake in the water bath for 60 minutes. The center of the cake will be very jiggly still, that's OK it will set up as it cools.

Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven with the heat off and the door closed for at least 8 hours. After 8 hours remove the cake, cover with plastic on top and chill in the fridge for another 8 hours.

~*~Kitchen Witch Tip: After 2 hours you can gently remove the cake from the oven and pour off the water from the water bath. Replace the sheet pan and the cheesecake in the still warm oven and allow it to cool for 6 hours more IN THE OVEN with the door closed. The warmth and slow cool down process allow the cake to finish cooking (its very dense!) and cool slowly so cracks don't happen.~*~

Before serving remove spring ring from pan and slice cake. Wipe the knife clean between slices for best appearance.

Simple Strawberry sauce
1 lb strawberries
1/3 c sugar
blend together in a blender until very smooth.

Nutrition Facts provided by Spark People recipe calculator
12 Servings, including strawberry sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 617.0
Total Fat 47.4 g
Saturated Fat 28.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 13.7 g
Cholesterol 203.9 mg
Sodium 355.2 mg
Potassium 321.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 40.3 g
Dietary Fiber 2.4 g
Sugars 31.9 g
Protein 10.9 g


Girl Foodie said...

This looks so perfectly light and fluffy!
Wait, does that mean that it wont make me heavy??
I'm feeling my new dietary resolve slipping...

Siri said...

I think you might have to enter this in the Real Women of Philadelphia contest. I'm just saying. Google it : )

Katy Stuhr said...

YUM. I want to make. First, you say '3 vanilla beans' in the recipe list of ingredients, but then vanilla extract in the instructions. I've never worked with vanilla beans. How do you get the extract out?

Also, I'm assuming you pour the batter on top of the crust in the springform pan before baking?

Thanks for sharing!

Andrea said...

Kathy Sorry about that!! I was distracted this am when I typed it up. I have corrected the recipe to included the vanilla bean instructions.

yes you do pour the batter on top of the crust before you bake it, pour it in after you wrap the pan in foil to avoid the water bath from leaking in.

When lining your springform pan with parchment cut long strips of parchment paper about 5 inches tall. You want it to be about 1-2 inches taller than the pan. Spray the pan with baking spray (PAM) and press the parchment onto the sides, the oil will help it stick. Its important that the parchment be tall as there is a LOT of batter and the pan won't hold it all!

Katy Stuhr said...

Awesome thanks! I cook a lot, but am kinda a baking novice. I am going to try this for a party I am going to this weekend!

Ashleigh said...

ive always wondered about that water bathing. thanks again.

Julia said...

Holy Moly!!!!! I made vanilla bean cheesecake 6 months ago, INSANE. You're right, the simplicity of the vanilla beans and the creaminess of the cheesecake, it is really is to-die-for. Now I am motivated to make it again. I put just fresh strawberries on mine (laziness), but, strawberry sauce, done and done!

Anonymous said...

What size springform pan did you use?

Jessica said...

YUM! Looks delicious!

Baking Addict said...

Wow great job! Love cheesecake. I agree that vanilla is anything but plain and boring. Thanks for the interesting facts about vanilla.

Andrea said...

I used a standard spring form pan...let me go measure it...the base measures 9.5 inches so I'm sure they'd call it a 9 inch.

Michelle said...


I don't water bath...but it's a matter of keeping a close eye on your oven to be sure not to overbake. Overbaking is pretty common in cheesecake making.

Jenn said...

Ok... guess I know what I'll be doing with the rest of my vanilla beans!!! I don't suppose you can ship a piece to AZ huh? :)

Oh.. and I agree with Siri..enter this recipe in the Real Women of Philadelphia contest and quick!!

Tonya said...

Yum. I want to eat this right now!

Anusce@Ciao-Chow said...

Cheesecake is my absolute favorite dessert!
It beats gelato any day, any time!
What a wonderful recipe.....
The calorie count is SCARY!!!

Katy Stuhr said...

I did it! I baked it! So excited and cannot wait to taste it on Saturday.

Andrea said...

Good for you Katy!!! I hope you love it :) Doesn't it smell heavenly while baking?

Sook said...

The topping looks delicious!

Raina said...

This looks amazing. I have never used vanilla bean in my cooking, but I know it is delicious. I have to try this. My family are huge fans of cheesecake and so am I. I think your pics look great!

Design Wine and Dine said...

I totally understand the power of the vanilla taking over the need to photograph! YUM...looks delicious!

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