Simple, No-Fail Authentic Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with a Sweetened Vanilla Bean Sour Cream Topping

Before I even start telling you how good this is – let me just grab you by the shoulders and pull you in close. Have I got ya? Good – listen up: “You can do this. It will be great. You will impress your people. Believe me.” Now that we have that taken care of, let me tell you about what I see in your future: creamy, thick, perfectly smooth, dense — perfectly gourmet homemade cheesecake!

This recipe comes from Laura, my BFF. Last February, Laura and I were talking about some our favorite recipes and this lovely recipe came up in our conversation. “Haven’t I told you about this before?” Laura asked, surprised she had been able to keep this treasure to herself for 20 years. “No — I can’t believe it!” I replied, in a mix of shock and disappointment I had been deprived for so long.

I let no moss gather and found the perfect opportunity to try it for myself — Shep’s 8th birthday. I poured a homemade lemon curd over the top for his birthday — so good!!

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There is a short list of ingredients & you know what that means. Each ingredient needs to be high quality.

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Crust: 

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  • Don’t use boxed crumbs, take the extra ((minimal)) effort to make your own. The crust is a little chunkier – which I really like! Of course you can keep pulsing the graham crackers until they are dust if you please. image
  • Butter: there is no sub for good butter. Oh, I almost forgot: the recipe calls for unsalted butter, but I use salted. I like it better, the extra saltiness contrasts the sweet filling perfectly.
  • Notice no sugar is added to the crust mix? The sugar can tend to leave a burnt flavor as it bakes. Leaving it out avoids that problem, you won’t even notice the lack of sugar!image
  • One more tip with the recipe I am sharing, I added 20 gingersnaps to the processor. This gave the crust a very slight sweetness and a wonderful hint of holiday spice. Perfect for this time of year! ((I just pulled out 5-6 graham crackers to keep from having too much crust.))

Filling:

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  • No time to worry about fat and calories…use the real ((name brand)) stuff. “Why not light or off brand??” you may be asking. Both light and off brands may add more water to their product. Ain’t nobody got time for a runny, watery, slimy cheesecake. Don’t you agree?image
  • Eggs: fresh organic please. “Cage-free, all natural, farm fresh” all labels you may find on you package. They sound nice, but really don’t mean anything. Organic eggs are the only regulated eggs. The taste is noticeable, the price is worth it & the health benefits ((in general)) are proven. Better yet, find a local farm and collect your eggs right from the nesting box! ((Don’t forget to break each egg individually in a separate bowl before adding to the mixing bowl — do I really need to tell you why??))
  • Sugar: use pure cane, it matters.image
  • Vanilla: McCormick’s vanilla extract is the top rated extract ((according to Cook’s Illustrated)). You can also read reviews of vanilla products on Amazon. For this recipe, I used a vanilla bean paste that I found on Amazon because I wanted the little vanilla bean flecks throughout.image

Topping:

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  • For this cheesecake, I added a sweetened vanilla bean sour cream topping. Whole sour cream limits the water & pure cane sugar ensures the perfect sweetness. And again – a good vanilla bean paste, tastes great and looks gorgeous.image

 Now that we have the ingredients gathered, time to make the cheesecake.

imagePulse the butter and crackers together in a food processor until the desired texture is reached. 

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Place crumbs in a large (10″) cheesecake pan, press down and bake for 5-7 minutes on 350°.

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Place softened cream cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and whip on medium-high speed, scraping the sides every so often, until blended smooth.

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Pour filling over the crust, tap to remove any air bubbles and bake for 40 minutes. Once baking is complete, turn the oven off, open the oven door and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes.

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Remove, lightly cover with foil and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

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The next morning, prepare your topping.

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Spread it carefully over the top of the chilled cheesecake and return to the fridge until ready to serve.

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Get ready to “need a moment”.

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Simple ((Perfect)) Homemade Cheesecake
Serves 20
Perfectly rich and delicious - but surprisingly simple. Never buy store-bought again.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Ingredients
Crust
  1. 2 pkgs of graham crackers ((I added 20 gingersnaps and left out 5-6 graham cracker sheets))
  2. 1 stick butter ((I prefer salted))
Filling
  1. 5 8 oz pkgs cream cheese
  2. 1 1/2 c pure cane sugar
  3. 2 1/2 t vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  4. 3 eggs
Topping
  1. 1 1/2 c sour cream ((not light))
  2. 1 1/2 c confectioner's sugar
  3. 3 t vanilla bean paste
Directions
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Using a food processor or by hand, crush crackers and cut in butter. Press crumbs into a 10" (large) cheesecake pan. Bake at 350° for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set aside until ready to add the filling.
Filling
  1. In a large mixing bowl, blend softened cream cheese on medium speed. Add sugar, eggs & vanilla. Blend for 2 minutes on medium-high speed until smooth. Scrap the sides of the bowl periodically. Pour filling into the baked crust, tap gently to remove air bubbles and bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Once cooking time is complete, turn the oven off and open the oven door. Allow the cheesecake to cool in the opened oven for 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil and refrigerate over night or for 8 hours.
Topping
  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine topping ingredients. Stir until smooth. Remove cooled cheesecake from fridge ((after 8 hours to overnight)), pour the topping over the cheesecake and spread out smooth. Chill for on more hour or until ready to serve.
  2. Release the cheesecake pan, cut with a sharp knife ((cleaning the knife between cuts)) and serve
Notes
  1. The toppings for this cheesecake are endless. Citrus curd, spiced sour cream, dark chocolate ganache, salted caramel. Make it your own!
Adapted from recipe courtesy of Laura Wright
Adapted from recipe courtesy of Laura Wright
Food for a Year: http://foodforayear.com/

In true show & tell form: "I am open for questions & comments"

 
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