Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
This dense and creamy New York cheesecake is bursting with fragrant vanilla in every delicious layer! Rich cream cheese cheesecake filling is speckled throughout with sweet vanilla bean flecks, nestled into a buttery crisp vanilla wafer crust and topped with vanilla-infused whipped cream. A perfect make-ahead dessert to share with the ones you love.
This is a sponsored post, written by me, and created in partnership with PAM Cooking Spray. All opinions expressed herein are straight from my heart.
Happy New Year, friends!!
How was your holiday week? Ours was really nice; we spent lots of time with family, and it was really good for me to recharge my batteries a bit. I have to be honest: Despite my best efforts to be mindful of how much I was taking on, December really made me miserable. It was good, and necessary, for me to unplug for a few luxurious days!
I’m slowly easing back in, starting with this dense and creamy cheesecake, and keeping in mind the #1 resolution for 2016: to enjoy life to the fullest! My husband and I were watching this over the break and it really struck a chord. Last year, you may remember this was my New Year’s resolution, but like so many resolutions, over time you slowly start to forget. I’m happy for the reminder at the start of this New Year.
One of the things that always tends to bring me down around the holidays is all the DISHES! Entertaining friends and family is so much fun but all those dirty dishes can really kill the buzz. Especially when you have to scrub off all that brown residue from your cake pans. So when I bake, I use PAM Cooking Spray because it really allows me to spend time catching up with my loved ones, instead of being trapped in the kitchen scrubbing gunk.
Lately, I’ve been all about cheesecake. Over the past few weeks, I’ve made chocolate peppermint cheesecake bars and mini lemon cheesecakes with ginger cookie crust, and this double chocolate brownie cheesecake always gets a huge reaction whenever I post it to my Facebook page. What can I say? Cheesecake is just so GOOD! It’s always a crowd-pleaser, plus it’s a perfect make-ahead dish. This rich vanilla bean cheesecake can be made up to three days ahead and kept chilled in the fridge, so it really frees you up to spend time with your guests. It’s got intense, fragrant vanilla flavor running all throughout. The crust is a buttery layer of crisp vanilla wafers, the filling is super-dense and creamy, and it’s topped with fluffy vanilla whipped cream. If you have a vanilla lover in your life, you’ve gotta make them this cheesecake!
I like to bake my cheesecakes in an 8-inch diameter by 3-inch high cake pan. Most recipes call for a 9- or even 10-inch springform pan. But I think this size is much more manageable. Also, I find the springform pans always seem to leak, even if I wrap them in foil. I think the reason for the springform is because someone somewhere thought that you needed it to avoid the cheesecake sticking to the sides, but as long as I give my cake pan a good misting of PAM Cooking Spray, I have no trouble whatsoever. Once it’s cooled, I just flip it right out and invert it onto a serving plate. Nice crunchy crust, creamy interior, and just the right size to serve 8 to 10 peeps. I think you’ll love it!
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Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
For the vanilla wafer crust
- 2 cups (220 g) vanilla wafer cookies, (about 40 regular-sized cookies)
- 6 tablespoons (88.72 g) unsalted butter,, melted
For the vanilla bean cheesecake filling
To make the vanilla wafer crust:
- Place the cookies in the bowl of a food processor and process until fine.
- Drizzle in the melted butter and toss together until combined.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
To make the vanilla bean cheesecake filling:
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Place the cream cheese, sugar, and cornstarch in a large mixing bowl and mix on medium-low speed until smooth.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula after each addition.
- Add the cream, vanilla bean paste, and vanilla extract, and stir to combine.
- Pour the batter over the crust, and rap sharply on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
- Place the cake pan in a larger baking dish and pour very hot water ¾ of the way up the sides of the pan.
- Bake the cheesecake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 300° F and bake for an additional 70-80 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set around the edges but still slightly jiggly toward the center.
- Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar, and allow the cheesecake to cool for one hour.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool completely at room temperature.
- Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve, then flip the cheesecake out of the pan and invert onto a serving plate.
- Garnish with whipped cream, slice, & serve.
To make the vanilla bean whipped cream:
- Place the heavy cream in a medium mixing bowl and whip on high speed until just beginning to thicken.
- Sprinkle in the sugar, gradually, while continuing to whip.
- When the whipped cream holds soft peaks, whip in the vanilla bean paste.
- Pipe whipped cream around the outside edge of the cheesecake.
With all the planning that goes into putting together the perfect dish, using PAM Cooking Spray is a sensible way to save time in the kitchen. When you use PAM, you spend less time cleaning up in the kitchen, allowing for more time to be spent with the ones you love. Bonus? PAM Cooking Spray leaves 99% less residue than leading brands of margarine or bargain-brand sprays, so your dishes will turn out great, and you’ll spend less time cleaning up.
*vs. leading cooking sprays (except olive oil), after spraying on glass bakeware, baking at 400° F for 30 minutes, cooling, and then washing in a standard home dishwasher with detergent, and repeating four times.