vanilla bean cheesecake

July 4, 2010 § 22 Comments

I decided to make vanilla bean ice cream the other day, and asked my roommate to pick up a vanilla bean at the store while he was out. The ice cream was incredible – the flavour of real vanilla makes a huge difference – and I vowed to only use vanilla beans from then on. But then he mentioned that the bean cost ten dollars. For one bean. Seriously! I should think before I vow.

The problem is, now that I’ve gone bean, I can’t go back. If vanilla is the primary flavour in your recipe, using beans makes a world of difference to the taste, plus all the little seeds are so pretty! Luckily, I remembered that you can buy anything on the internet, and after a little hunting discovered that prices drop to a dollar a bean if you order online. Not cheap, but affordable. A few days later, an package arrived at my doorstep, and the smell was so strong that when I picked it up I instantly knew my vanilla had arrived. I wonder what the Fedex guy thought – this smell must have filled his entire truck.

Vanilla beans are really versatile, and given that most recipes only call for the seeds of a single bean (save the pod for vanilla sugar!), it’s a worthy investment for me. This cheesecake, though, calls for THREE vanilla beans. So unless you are a gazillionaire who enjoys throwing their weight around at the supermarket (and if you are, you may want to find a better hobby), I recommend that you only make this if you have purchased the aforementioned Supercheap Internet Vanilla Beans. If you do, your reward will be an incredibly creamy, dreamy cheesecake, that isn’t just plain but also isn’t overwhelmed by over-the-top flavours – just scented with the incredible aroma of vanilla, enhancing the cream cheese tanginess. Pile on a vanilla bean sour cream topping, and true decadence has arrived. Thank you internet!

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake – adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking
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.

Crust:

    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

Filling:

    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

Topping:

    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.

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§ 22 Responses to vanilla bean cheesecake

  • Hugo says:

    Thank you very much for this recipe, looks delicious dish, I prepare for my family.

    Best regards

  • Jarrod says:

    Can’t wait to try this out. I use this product when a recipe calls for vanilla beans, and have found the taste spectacular:

    http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/pure-vanilla-bean-paste-madagascar-bourbon-island

    It equals out to about 8 vanilla beans, and won’t dry out like v. beans will over time!

  • AAAAH, that looks so, so, SO good. I love cheesecake and I love real vanilla beans. I must try this as soon as possible. Thanks! :) Great pictures by the way.

  • Kitty says:

    This cheesecake looks wonderful, I suspect I shall be making it for my pops come his next birthday. Can you post a link to the site where you purchased the vanilla beans? I need to replenish my supply of homemade vanilla extract and I’m seriously dragging my feet because of the exorbitant in-store cost of the beans.

  • Memoria says:

    This looks amazing!! I love vanilla bean, too. I bought 1/4 pound of vanilla beans (around 30-40 beans) for only 4-5 dollars on eBay. I still have a bunch left after about one year of purchase, and I’ve made a lot of vanilla bean ice cream. This cheesecake is next on the list!

  • That cheesecake looks divine!

  • Laura says:

    Thanks everyone! If you do try it, let me know what you think!

    Kitty – I got my beans on Amazon here – they were great and they’re even cheaper if you buy larger quantities. I bet you could also get good ones from Penzeys, although I haven’t tried those.

  • cakebrain says:

    I must say that cheesecake looks mighty fetching. It makes my mouth water!

  • Brittany says:

    Looks absolutely amazing! I love the little black dots that the vanilla bean leaves behind, it reminds me that I’m eating something really special.

  • Ken Topham says:

    This was a big success and everyone loved it at the office. It was gone before I knew it. I was out of Graham crackers so I used Oreos instead and it was awesome. Great opportunity to showcase those vanilla beans.

  • Danielle says:

    I made this recipe recently, and I found that, while the texture/consistency was perfect, it was much too tart for my liking, and the vanilla flavor was overpowered by the lemon juice. I would love to try this again without the lemon juice, but am afraid that omitting it may affect the consistency. Do you have any suggestions for me?

  • Laura says:

    Danielle – sorry it was too tart! It might be better with the juice of half a lemon, I’ll adjust the recipe. It’s actually probably also fine to omit it entirely. If you find that the filling is a little too stiff without the liquid, you can add in some heavy cream to make up the difference.

  • Danielle says:

    Oh, no need to be sorry! I actually thought about only using half the lemon, but thought the filling was too thick, so that’s why I added the rest, but next time I will add some cream to it. Other than the tartness, it was awesome, so I will adjust to my taste!

  • [...] Recipe lightly adapted from Laura at One Cake Two Cake blog [...]

  • Jourdan says:

    I made this last weekend b/c my hubby LOVES the vanilla bean cheesecake from cheesecake factory. He said this was the best cheesecake he has ever had – so did my family and Im told I have to make it again for Thanksgiving. Thanks so much for this!

  • Suzanne says:

    Making this for Thanksgiving, it’s in the oven now. Silly me didn’t read the whole post before going to the grocery store and experiencing sticker shock at the price of Vanilla Beans. So I had to shell out lots of moolah, but next time I’ll know better. (By the way, what is the best way to scrape out the seeds? I did what I could to get as much as I could about those pricey little things…didn’t know if there was a certain no-fail way…).

    On to my real question, you say, “Cover the cake pan with a lid,” What does that mean? Put a lid on the cheesecake while it is cooking??? I’ve made tons of cheesecakes and never covered one with a lid while it was cooking. I didn’t cover it, but I just wanted to clarify that part. Can’t wait to try it!!!

    • Lien says:

      The best way I’ve found to scrape the caviar out is to use a sharp knife to slice it (not all the way through) lengthwise from top to bottom, then turn the knife dull side down, get into the groove, and scrape. You might have to do it twice, under each flap. I hope that makes sense.

  • Kellie says:

    I would like to give this as a gift. Do you have any tips on how to remove it from the springform pan, especially the bottom? Thanks.

  • Nick says:

    Looks amazing.

  • Lien says:

    I get grade A vanilla beans on eBay and Amazon for $16.99 for 50! They come vacuumed sealed and super soft!

  • Kimmy says:

    Thanks for sharing about the vanilla beans lien. They are expensive at giant I forget how much but you only get 2.

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