Saturday, July 16, 2011

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Strawberry Grand Marnier Sauce OR Jamaican Pineapple Rum Sauce

Fifteen years ago I received the best birthday gift of my life... my son.  Arriving nearly two weeks behind schedule, we welcomed our bouncing bundle on my birthday and I have been blessed to share this day with this most special person ever since.

Remembering back to those early days of babyhood I find it hard to believe that my baby is now nearly 8 inches taller than I and I'm struggling with the fact that this new man in my household doesn't need Mommy like he used to.  More often than not I'm the one heading to bed earlier in the evening, I'm asking him for help reaching something up high and now I'm the one begging for a hug.

One thing he still needs me for, though, is food.  While he may think that he is "cooking" as he heats up his Trader Joe's Frozen Burritos or Mini Pizzas, he truly does appreciate a good, home cooked meal which is not made up of any frozen parts.  Not a fan of beef, a Grilled Pork Tenderloin fulfilled his request for the main course of our birthday dinner, with me getting to choose the sides.  Returning to his favorite rub and adding my new favorite Watermelon Salad we had dinner set and ready to go.

Dessert, however, was a compromise.  Not being a fan of cakes with what he calls "icky" frosting, his dessert request was a simple Vanilla Bean Cheesecake.  Easy enough to do, but I struggled with the idea of letting the cheesecake arrive to the table unadorned.  Successfully pleasing both of us, 24 mini cheesecakes were prepared as simple, plain Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with a choice of either Grand Marnier Strawberry Sauce or Jamaican Pineapple Rum Sauce completed the picture making us both happy.

With my love of Grand Marnier, the Strawberry Sauce has been a longtime favorite.  Discovered years and years ago on the Cooking Light Message Board, we have served this sauce over cheesecakes, ice cream and Strawberry Shortcakes.  The thought of finding a better sauce really never entered my mind... until I tried today's Jamaican Pineapple Rum Sauce.  Caramelized pineapple is sweetened with brown sugar and then enhanced with a splash (or two...) of dark rum bringing a taste of the Caribbean to your table.  Reminiscent of the old favorite Pineapple Upside Down Cake, this Pineapple Rum Sauce just may become a staple in my fridge!

Happy Birthday to my boy... you have truly made my life better simply by having you in it.  Sharing a birthday with you warms my heart and is
a gift I will treasure always.  Thanks for still needing me!

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
The perfect base for any sauce.  
Printer Friendly Recipe

2 cups ground cookie crumbs (or Graham Cracker crumbs) - We used 1 package of TJ's Bistro Biscuits ----->
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbs brown sugar

3 8-oz pkgs cream cheese (many times I use lower fat cream cheese with great success)
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 325º.  In a small bowl combine the cookie crumbs and brown sugar.  Toss with the melted butter and place about 2 Tbs of the crumb mixture into the bottom of each cup of a miniature cheesecake pan.  (I have found that the bottom of a kids medicine measuring cup works wonderfully for pressing down the crumbs.).  You will most likely have extra crumbs.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the room temperature cream cheese and sugar until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the cream cheese/sugar mixture.  Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice in the process.  Add the vanilla extract and mix for another few seconds until mixed in.

Fill each cup about 2/3 full with the cream cheese mixture and place the pan in the oven.  Bake until cakes are puffed, about 17 minutes.  

Note:  We had enough crumbs and filling for another small (5-inch) cheesecake.

Remove cheesecakes from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  When room temperature, place the pan in the refrigerator and chill for a couple of hours.

When ready to serve, remove cheesecake pans from the fridge, unmold the cheesecakes and place on a serving platter.  Top with Sauce and serve!

Grand Marnier Strawberry Sauce
Grace - CLBB
Fragrant vanilla is combined with floral Grand Marnier to bring the best out of these berries!

3-1/2 cups quartered, ripe strawberries, divided
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
"some" Grand Marnier (1-3 Tbs or so, depending on your taste....!)

Combine 1 cup of the quartered strawberries, sugar, orange juice, vanilla, and lemon juice in a bowl.   Give it a good mash with a potato masher to get your desired consistency.   Add the remaining  2-1/2 cups strawberry quarters and Grand Marnier, mixing to combine.  Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Jamaican Pineapple Rum Sauce
This recipe came together with a "little of this" and a "little of that" creating a delightfully sweet, caramelized pineapple rum sauce worthy of any cheesecake or ice cream.  Bringing flavors of the Caribbean, this pineapple rum sauce would make any pirate swoon!

1 cup fresh or frozen chopped pineapple
1/2 cup water
3 Tbs brown sugar
1- 2 Tbs dark rum
Combine pineapple and water in a medium saucepan and cook until pineapple is very tender and the liquid has thickened.  (My pineapple was not as ripe as others that I've used and I did find it necessary to add about 1/3 cup additional water as I needed to cook the pineapple a bit longer).  As pineapple becomes tender add the brown sugar and allow to simmer slightly for a few minutes, melting the sugar and thickening the sauce.  Add a bit of water if the mixture becomes too dry.
Place the pineapple mixture into a blender and pulse a few times to your desired consistency.  Pour pineapple into a small bowl and stir in a few splashes of rum.  Taste as you add the rum to achieve the flavor you prefer.

My boy is growing up...


  1. Those look summery and tropical and decadent! Perrrrfect for a summer potluck. Love your recipes. :)

  2. What a lovely photo of the two of you!! The dinner sounds delicious and that Jamaican rum sauce wounds to die for!! What a great birthday spread! Happy birthday you guys, I am getting sad thinking about my son starting American kindergarten in September! Can't imagine what i will do when he turns 15!!

  3. First of all your son is so cute and I definitely agree with you that giving birth to a child is probably one of the best gifts any woman can have -(throwing those labor pains aside)- alas they grow so fast, but the only downside I find to that is that you begin to realize that you are aging:(. I love your cheesecake (will bookmark for future use since I'm trying to cut down the calories right now), that grand marnier sauce looks truly decadent.

  4. What a beautiful post, Kim! How cool that you share your birthday :) Love the picture of the two of you! That cheesecake sounds SO good.... and those sauces - can't believe you made two fabulous sauces! Both sound totally yummy! Great post :) Loved reading it... Happy Birthday to you & your boy...

  5. The photo is beautiful! And those little cheesecake bites look just yummy! (And even more with alcohol!;)

  6. These cheesecakes look fantastic! I love vanilla bean.

  7. What a fabulous birthday treat for you both! The crust looks incredible. Love the photo of you and your sweet son!

  8. Lovely birthday dessert! And that's pretty darn cool that you get to share a birthday :) Makes it extra special. Loving that pineapple sauce! Buzzed

  9. Happy (double) birthday from a fellow Cancer! I love this cheesecake...I'm waiting for some vanilla bean paste to come in the mail, and then I'm going to make this!! And you know I'm another strawberry-Gran Marnier lover ;)! That pineapple sauce looks divine too...

  10. What a wonderful momma you are! Honestly I'm not a big "cake" fan. Cupcakes, cheesecake, bring it. And I definitely would have to grab multiples of your little masterpieces. What a great compromise. And gosh, he really is a full head taller than you.

  11. Please wish your baby Happy Birthday from me. He will always need you for a great meal, I learned that quickly. That's a great shot of the two of you. I'm a big fan of cheesecake two, who needs icky frosting. Hope you both enjoy the weekend.

  12. HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! My daughter arrived one day before our wedding gift ever!

    What's not to love about this, grand marnier, strawberries. Delicious!

  13. Well nothing with Grand Marnier sounds unfortunate!! I love this, yumm-oh!

  14. Happy birthday to both you and your son, Kim :-) I'm so glad it was a fantastic one for you! The cheesecakes look amazing, just like you! Now, for your miniature cheesecake pan, did you just use a regular muffin pan? Based on the pictures, I can't really gauge the size of these, haha. They sound fantastic and I've not made any cheesecake this summer yet... ;-) But given my family, I would think that a sauce will be a no-no :-(

  15. What a wonderful birthday dinner for both of you. I love both of your sauces, so I would have to have some of both on my cheesecake. Great picture of your and your son.

  16. Thanks for letting us help celebrate your birthdays. Now you know how it felt when you no longer us as much.
    And, yes your cheese cakes are out of this world.
    Mom and Dad

  17. Awww Kim, what a beautiful story...This cheesecake look amazing, and mouthwatering..just lovely post!
    Happy Birthday to both of you...wish you many many many more to celebrate in happiness and laughter!

  18. Oh my goodness, this sounds so amazing. The pics are beautiful too, great job ;)

  19. Happy Bday!! I have been wanting to check out those cookie from TJs too. These look great, I cant decide which one I want more!

  20. Oh my.. I love cheesecake and using vanilla bean. I can't wait to try this recipe. It sounds heavenly.

  21. I love that you made these in mini form! Too cute!!

  22. I don't know which sauce I would try! Probably both of them. I love those little cheesecakes.

    These children do grow up so quickly. Happy birthday to you and your boy!

  23. I hope your son knows just how lucky he is to have such a loving mother!! :)

  24. I, too, love cheesecake. And these toppings sound wonderful. Happy birthday to you both!

  25. Awe. Kim, that it such a lovely post. Happy belated birthdays! What a fantastic way to celebrate - this looks absolutely delicious, creamy and with choice of sauces like this, who could ask for more? Yep - kids grow up too quickly but it's wonderful!

  26. What a great post Kim! That is so special that you get to share your birthday with him...that must be a very special bond that you two have and always will.

    The cheesecakes look really yummy and beautiful as well. So colorful and vibrant!

  27. Kids growing up is a joy and a sorrow (who knew the two could be simultaneously experienced).
    Happy Birthday to you and your son.
    The cheesecakes look phenomenal, I just wish one with the Jamaican pineapple rum sauce was sitting with my at desk...just delicious to look at.

  28. Oh my goodness, these cheesecakes look SO SO good - I would never be able to decide between those two toppings! Yum yum yum. :)

  29. How awesome that you share the same birthday! These cheesecakes do look like the perfect way to celebrate! Just beautiful.

  30. This gave me goosebumps! How special to share a birthday! I just want to cry thinking about my baby boys growing up and being taller than me. Look at you two! :) But with me being 5 feet and my husband being 6'5" the boys are taking after their Daddy and will pass me up soon I'm sure!

  31. that sauce sounds awesome! the whole thing just looks wonderful!

    and fun to see you in the SRClub!

  32. I love vanilla cheesecake on it's own, but you really took this to the next level. I love the mini, portion control is so much easier that way! And the sauce? Yum... great post!

  33. My oh my your boy IS tall! And let me tell you...I don't even like cheesecake and I'm dying for one of each of these delectable little treats. I wish you lived in San Antonio instead of San Francisco because I would be knocking on your door for one of these bad boys!

  34. Happy incredibly late birthday to the two of you. Your son is 15??? That's amazing. He towers over you.

    Dudette once asked me why I always choose vanilla ice cream because it has no taste. Pffft to that, I say. I adore vanilla and I think I've just found my new favorite cheesecake. And I haven't even taken a bite (yet). You've twisted my arm into trying both of these sauces, but not on the cheesecake. It stays in it's plain perfection; like it's supposed to be. :)

  35. My boyfriend and I are trying your strawberry sauce tonight. Maybe chilled over greek yogurt :) Can't wait!


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