Friday, February 22, 2008

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

vanilla bean cheesecake

I have been wanting to tell you about the last cheesecake I made from Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook before we left for vacation. It was the best vanilla bean cheesecake I have tasted in a long time. I have the recipe neatly typed and saved in the draft but never gotten around posting it. Mostly because the only photo I have taken of the cheesecake was a poorly lit and hideous one. It simply doesn't do the cake justice, let alone convincing you, my friends, that it's the best vanilla bean cheesecake one could ever ask for.

So, upon returning from vacation, I took this mission of capturing the beauty of the best vanilla bean cheesecake upon myself. This cheesecake entry deserves a better photo than the first hideous one I took!But really, if you know me well, you know that this is only half the truth. The bigger motivation for repeating the recipe, I am afraid, is the imminent expiring dates printed on the few bars of cream cheese I overbought on discount. OCT said I am so predictable.

vanilla bean cheesecake2

As a trademark of the famous Junior's Cheesecakes, this cake has a sponge cake crust. Although it takes a few more steps to prepare the sponge cake, I find the outcome more than worth the effort it demands. Even if you are a hardcore cookies crust fan, I encourage you to give it a shot. Either way, the real star here is the cheesecake filling speckled with vanilla beans. The original recipe has the vanilla flavor infused by sticking the vanilla pod in the sugar overnight, and uses vanilla extract in the filling. I pumped up the vanilla flavor by scraping out the morsels and added them into the batter after the overnight infusion.

If you love cheesecake, I am sure you will like this one. In fact, all the cheesecake recipes from Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook have garniered nothing but rave reviews from my tasters. I have to wait until Easter for another round of cheesecake baking. Meanwhile, be prepared to see some bread posts ahead!

Have a great weekend and stay warm, y'all!

vanilla bean cheesecake1

You may also like:
Apple Cheesecake
Mango Cheesecake
Tropical Cheesecake

Other cheesecake recipes from the same book:
Little Fellas Raspberry Swirl
Little Fellas Cappuccino
Little Fellas Chocolate Swirl

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
adapted from Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook

four 8-ounce packages Philidaphia Cream Cheese (I use 3 packages of 1/3 less fat Neufchtel and 1 package of original cream cheese), at room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (about 7 inches long)
1 recipe 9-inch Junior's Sponge Cake Crust, recipe below
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs ( 3 large eggs are fine too)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
one half pint fresh raspberries (about 6 ounces) (optional)
confectioners's sugar

The night before you plan to make this cake, put the granulated sugar in a small bowl and bury the vanilla bean in it, covering it completely. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand overnight to flavor the sugar. When you are ready to make the cake, set the vanilla bean for later use.

Preheat oven to 350F. (I used 325F)Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springformpan. Wrap the outside with aluminium foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides. Make and bake the cake crust and leave it in the pan. Keep the oven on.

Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of vanilla flavored sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 1/3cups vanilla sugar, then the scraped vanilla beans and vanilla extract. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the cream just until it's completely blended. Be careful not to be overmix. Gently spoon the batter on top of the crust.

Place the cake on a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch u the sides of the springform. Bake until the edges are light golden brown and the top is slightly golden tan, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let the cake cool for 2 hours. Leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight or at least 4 hours.

Wash and drain the raspberries and place them on paper towels to dry, if using. Release and remove the sides of the springform, leaving the cake on the bottom of the pan. Place on a cake plate. Put some confectioners' sugar in a tea stainer and sift enough over the top of the cake to evenly cover it with a fine dusting. Decorate the top with raspberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice the cold cake with a sharp straight edge knife, not a serrated one. Cover any leftover cake and refrigerate, or remove the decorations, wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.

Junior's sponge cake crust

for one 9-inch cake crust:
1/3 cup sifted cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 extra large eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 drops pure lemon extract (or zest of half a lemon)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

for one 8-inch cake crust:
1/4 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 extra large eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 drops pure lemon extract (I used zest from half a lemon)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350F and generously butter the bottom and sides of a 8- or 9-inch springform pan (preferably a nonstick one). Wrap the outsde with aluminium foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides.

In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Beat the eggyolks in large bowl with an electric mixer on high for 3 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until thick light yellow ribbons form, about 5 minutes more. Beat in the extracts.

Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until no more white flecks appear. Now, blend in the melted butter.

Now wash the bowl and beaters really well (even a little fat is left, this can cause the eggwhite not to whip). Put the eggwhites and cream of tartar into the bowl and beat with the mixer on high until frothy. Gradually add the remainining sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form (the whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry). Fold about one-third of the whites into the batter, then the remaining whites. It's ok if you see a few white specks, they will disappear during baking.

Gently spread out the batter over the bottom of the pan, and bake just until set and golden (not wet and sticky), about 10 minutes. Touch the cake gently in the center. If it springs back, it's done. Watch carefully and don't let the top brown. Leave the crust in the pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on while you prepare the batter.

Dark Chocolate Sponge Cake Crust
Use the above recipe and technique, except you stir in 2 ounces of melted and slightly cooled bittersweet chocolate when you add the extracts.


Helene said...

That is one beautiful cheesecake! I am happy to hear you had a good holiday! Happy belated Chinese New Year! You are right, I am loving the new camera! One question: how do you make the banner with the writing on your pictures?

Deborah Dowd said...

This looks and sounds so wonderful! Drat this diet!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

Woww! i love your pics bc they are so natural, in terms of composition, lighting...which is so refreshing. Can i know, do you need to photoshop them? i'm considering which dslr to get and i find neither the nikon or canon gives colors like your pentax. the other pentax user i know is blue lotus on my links n she uses a p & s pentax, but again the pics are excellent.

Manggy said...

That's very interesting, I would have thought a sponge base would disappear completely (flavor-wise) into the cheesecake. It certainly looks awesome! I hope you had several people to share it with :)

I too am plagued with "the dairy's about to expire!" syndrome, haha :)

Anne said...

This is another winning cheesecake recipe from you :) Your pictures are wonderful as always!

GingerbreadGirl03 said...

Hi Mandy!
I don't understand if the cup of sugar is 1 cup + 2/3 cup sugar or 2/3 cup sugar?

Thank you ;) & Have a nice day,
Ginger ~♥

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

The pictures look so beautiful. Natural and lots of contrast. Well done!
I have to admit I'm not the biggest cheesecake fan but if it's as simple as vanilla bean I will definitely try it. Can't go wrong with vanilla and I like the sponge cake bottom. Nice touch!

Anonymous said...

a sponge base? now i must try this new version of cheesecake.ah well. life is tough.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

That looks utterly luscious. And that's a word I throw around loosely. :)

Farhan said...

Oh Mandy, after I bought a huge load of vanilla beans from Bali, this post is just what I needed!!

Brilynn said...

That cheesecake is beautiful! And I like the idea of the sponge base, very interesting.

bakeorbreak said...

If you keep this up, I am definitely going to have to buy that cookbook. I was just recently at Junior's in New York, and would you believe I didn't get cheesecake? I meant to go back for some when I wasn't bursting with the meal I just ate, and just never made it back. Next time, definitely!

priscilla joy said...

Beautiful cheesecake...vanilla in anything makes anything taste better!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Mandy - I am so glad you left a comment on my blog. I am so happy to have found yours!! You have a great writing style, excellent recipes and gorgeous pictures. I am definitely subscribing and cannot wait to see what you make next!!!

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Wow looks amazing!!! Love the pictures!

Rasa Malaysia said...

Give me two slices please......or make it half a cheesecake. When I lived in the midwest...I used to quick freezed my cheesecake outside after baking...with -20C in winter it took 1 minute to freeze solid. LOL.

Deborah said...

Whenever we go to the Cheesecake Factory, I always choose the vanilla bean cheesecake. It always sounds boring, but it is the best flavor in my opinion. This one sounds even better!!

Stardust said...

Hi Mandy,

Trust you that this cheezecake is a good one.

Sadly, I can't find vanilla beans at the place I stay. It sounds lame, but do you think I can replace them with vanilla essence? How much should I be using then?

Yum yum...

Andreea said...

this looks and sounds so absolutely delicious. can i have a piece? :)

Finla said...

Beautiful cheese cake.

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

Hi Mandy! I'm tagging you for a meme so I hope that's ok with you!!!

Anonymous said...

Your cheesecake looks sumptuous, good grief! Definitely clipping this recipe for later!

RecipeGirl said...

This is so up my alley... I absolutely love cheesecake and vanilla bean anything. Yummmy!

Piggy said...

I love anything with vanilla flavour... the cheesecake looks so darn good! thanks for sharing the recipe!

bp said...

Is this the same cake you brought for our Christmas gathering? I can testify to how yummy it is! Lovely pictures =)

Mandy said...

with adobe photoshop. :)

deborah dowd,
I subtituted some 1/3 less fat cream cheese for the full fat ones, so I hope that helps a bit.

what? I thought you have been using a DSLR, your photos are so clear and bright. I photoshop my photos, of course. :p

not with this sponge base. It has a nice lemony flavor, which I like.


gingerbread girl 3:
it's 1+ 2/3 cup sugar, dropped you a note on Flickr mail.


hope you like this version of cheesecake!

I am more than ok with that word. :)

I see you have started having fun with your stash of vanilla beans.:p

oh, how could you miss their signature cheesecake~

I absolutely agree!

gretchen noelle,
thanks for your kind words, I am blushing already~


rasa malaysia,
I would have love to pass half to you if you are staying somewhere exchange of the yummy food you cook!

I have always stick with the classic flavors too whenever ordering cheesecakes :)See, I am equally boring and unadventurous.

I think vanilla essense works too, maybe you can use 1.5 tablespoon. But make sure you are using the real vanilla essense, not the imitation vanilla.

thanks! and come on over!

happy cook,

I will try.......

let me know how it works for you, if you try.

thanks for visiting!

you are most welcome. :)

yup. It's the same one. :)

Kajal@aapplemint said...

girl this cheesecake is very rich and decadent. Looks gorgeous and i love the photography.

Anonymous said...

Mandy this is absolutely gorgeous.

Unknown said...

FABULOUS! Made this for the first time, with a few modifications - used shortbread cookies for crust because I was short on time and added 1 container of lowfat sour cream to the recipe. Turned out FANTASTIC -

Anonymous said...

This cheesecake was amazing. Very rich and creamy, just enough vanilla flavor, and just oh so good. I was a bit nervous making it because I've never attempted a cheesecake before. But it was a massive hit, even with the folks who don't like baked cheesecakes, at the potluck I brought it to. My boyfriend has already demanded I make another for Christmas! Thanks much!

Miss Alexandra said...

this was my first attempt at a cheesecake and it looks delicious (i can't actually taste it unless i want to give my friend a cake with a sliver missing).. the only substitution i made was using this crust recipe:

i have a feeling the walnut+vanilla is going to be delicious.

Sharmaine said...

I just made the cheesecake today! :)
It's in the fridge now...I'll go down at 11 to have a taste!

Just wondering, after I made the sponge cake base, the diameter had shrunk by almost an inch! Is this because I took too long to make the cheese batter? (haha) The batter flowed out to the sides so the cake slice won't have a full sponge cake base! ;__; Any ways to combat this? The cake in your picture seems to have a full base...

Please advise, much appreciated.
Thanks for the recipe!

Ryan said...

Has anyone made this in bulk? I want to bake it in a restaurant size deep sided Sheet-pan. Any advice on alterations or cooking times?

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