Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Decadent Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

***About two weeks ago, we celebrated my niece's birthday, Dakota.  She is so special to me...I love that little girl so much!  :-)  She asked for a simple, classic cheesecake this year.  I was up for the challenge!

With limited time to prepare and bake the cake, I began searching for the perfect recipe immediately.  After searching, and searching, and searching, I stumbled across this recipe for Vanilla Bean Cheesecake in my copy of Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook.  It looked decadent, with a creamy and wonderful texture.  I made a grocery list and got to work!

Thanks to this cake, I think that I have officially convinced my hubby to like cheesecake!  This cake has an incredible texture - Everything that you want in cheesecake when you decide to indulge yourself.  The vanilla beans in this recipe make all the difference.  Once you begin baking with fresh vanilla beans, it will probably be hard for you to stop.  You can't really tell from the pictures, but the vanilla beans look so pretty mixed in with the cake.  The vanilla beans infuse the entire cake with deliciousness!  The topping is easy to make and adds a beautiful finish to the top of the cake.  Needless to say, none of this cake went to waste!

Bon Appetit!***

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
Note: To get the best texture, it’s important that your cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature, and to beat as little as possible to prevent whipping air into the mixture.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 8 crackers)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 vanilla beans
Juice of one lemon, strained (use only half a lemon if you prefer less tartness)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a food processor, combine the crumbs, butter, sugar, nutmeg, and nuts. Pulse until mixed thoroughly. Press the mixture into the prepared pan and 1.5 inches up the sides (it helps to use a flat bottomed, straight-sided cup to press in the crumbs). Bake the crust until it darkens a bit, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool. 

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on low speed until creamy. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating gently after each addition. Split vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape seeds into the cream cheese mixture. Add vanilla extract and lemon juice, and mix until smooth and creamy. 

Put the pan with the crust on the baking sheet. Pour the batter into the crust – you may have a bit too much filling, depending on the size of your pan, so don’t necessarily put it all in (you can bake the extra in a ramekin, or as I did, just eat it with a spoon). Cover the cake pan with a lid. Bake the cheesecake until the centre jiggles slightly when centre is shaken, 50-70 minutes. If it looks soupy, keep baking a few more minutes. 

For topping: in a small bowl, combine sour cream and sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the bowl, stirring well. 

When cheesecake is baked, remove from oven and pour sour cream topping over. Gently spread the topping over the cake. Return the pan to the oven for 5 more minutes. 

Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool for 1-2 hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight.


Ms. Morgan said...

I really enjoy your blog - this looks very delicious. Hope you get a chance to follow/read mine. :)

Elizabeth said...

This looks delicious! I just love vanilla beans - I think they always add a little extra something special.