Monday, July 12, 2010

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Friends over for dinner always makes for a fun evening!  Last night was no exception with the visit of my parents and some long time family friends.  Appetizers from Mom started our evening and our conversation flowed like the wine Tom brought from his vineyard in Oakhusrt, CA.  Our topics ranged from dog care to river rafting to the fine art of photography.  The wine exceptionally complemented the Marinated Flank Steak and bean salad and we had high hopes that the coffee would complement the much anticipated Coconut Cheesecake.  Unfortunately, this one was a flop... so disappointing!  Drew had been requesting cheesecake for days and after waiting all day it was "just OK", nothing special.  To make up for this lackluster dessert, today we whipped up a Vanilla Bean Cheesecake and what the other cake was lacking in flavor this one more than made up for!

This cheesecake is a conglomerate of a few different recipes and I think I have to rate is as one of the best I've ever had!  Not only was this cake appealing to the eye with it's creamy, white color flecked with Tahitian vanilla bean, but it lived up to every hope and dream we had.  The texture is one of those with substance that begins to melt in your mouth and makes your eyes grow wide with absolute bliss.  The simple graham cracker crust enhanced with a few tablespoons of brown sugar adds another layer to the textures playing in your mouth and makes you look forward to that next bite.

Simple ingredients combined easily and quickly together to create this divine dessert.  I happened to have some plump Tahitian vanilla beans on hand that I picked up on my recent voyage to the South Pacific and we added to the flavor with a few teaspoons of vanilla extract for a perfect balance.  The cake is definitely caloric with it's additions of cream cheese and whipping cream, but I tried to cut a few of those calories out by using 1/3 less fat cream cheese for half of the cream cheese measurement.  I did use all of the whipping cream for the added creaminess though... and it was worth every single calorie!  

This recipe will go into our favorites binder and I expect it will be used often.  Next time we will experiment with some fruit sauces or purees, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry or maybe even lemon for one more layer of glorious flavor...

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
adapted from various sources 

1 1/2 packages low fat Graham Crackers 
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 Tbs butter, melted
3 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temp.
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 - 2 vanilla beans split and seeds scraped into batter
3 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º.

Place graham crackers into a large zip top bag and smash with a heavy rolling pin.  Add brown sugar to the bag, then add melted butter.  Seal the bag and mix thoroughly.

Run the cut side of a butter cube over the bottom and sides of a spring form pan.  Add the graham cracker mixture and press into bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Combine the room temp cream cheese and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix together until smooth, just a minute or two.  Add eggs one at a time, fulling incorporating before adding the next egg.  Scrape the bowl and add the heavy cream, vanilla bean seeds, vanilla extract.  Mix just until incorporated and vanilla bean flecks are evenly disbursed.

Pour batter into the prepared crust and tap onto the counter top a few times to release air bubbles.  Place cake into preheated oven and reduce temperature to 320º.  Cook approximately 1 hour (perhaps up to 10 minutes longer) until the cake is slightly browned on top and the center is still jiggly.  Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool, or alternatively turn the oven off and leave cake in oven with the door propped open for about 1 hour.  When cake has cooled considerably, chill until ready to serve.  Cut and garnish as desired!


  1. I would be so happy if I was over for dinner and this Vanilla Bean Cheesecake was the dessert. It looks amazing. I loved how the top is a golden color. It looks exactly how I think a baked cheesecake should look. Mine always seem to stay quite pale. I am going to give your recipe a try and see if I can get the same results.

  2. I love that golden color too... I used the procedure to start the oven temp a bit higher, then lower it from another recipe that produced the same result. I have to say, this was one of the prettiest cheesecakes that I have made, and no canyon in the middle!


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