How to Bake the Best Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

 How to Bake the Best Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
My family and I have always really loved cheesecake, but because I seldom bake, I questioned my ability to recreate the sweet treat at home. However, a friend offered me her recipe, and after tweaking it to make it my own, here is my go-to recipe for New York-Style Vanilla Bean Cheesecake.
Ingredients for Crust:
1-1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs 

1/4 cup Walnuts (finely chopped) 
2 tablespoons melted butter

Ingredients for Filling:
3- 8 ounce packages Cream Cheese 

1-1/3 cups Sugar 
5 Large Eggs 
10 ounces Sour Cream 
3 heaping tablespoons Flour 
2 Vanilla Beans, seeded 
2 teaspoons Almond Extract 
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice

Directions for Preparing the Crust:
Place the graham cracker crumbs and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour melted butter into the bowl and stir with a large spoon. Once the ingredients are combined, grease a 9-inch springform pan, then dust lightly with flour. Place the crust mixture inside the springform pan, pressing it firmly to the bottom of the pan, then lining the side of the pan at least halfway up the sides, if possible. Then, set aside.
Directions For Filling:
These ingredients should all be at room temperature before you begin.
Start by placing the cream cheese in an oversized mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until its texture becomes very light and fluffy.
Next, pour about half the sugar into the mixing bowl, continuing to mix on low speed. Once the first portion is mixed in well, add the second half of the sugar and continue beating.
Add eggs to the mixture, one at a time, beating until the mixture appears creamy.
Next, add in the flour, almond extract, lemon juice. You can opt for all-purpose flour, but finely ground oat flour works really well, too. Beat until creamy.
Split the vanilla bean down the center, then use a butter knife to remove its seeds. Add to the mixture.
Finally, add in the sour cream, continuing to beat on low speed until the entire mixture is creamy and well-blended.
Pour this filling into the springform pan.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place cheesecake into preheated oven, in the center and on the top rack. Also, place another pan filled with water on the lower shelf (this provides moisture while the cheesecake is baking and helps prevent unsightly splitting during baking). Bake for one hour and 15 minutes.
At the end of the baking time, turn the oven off, but do not remove the cheesecake yet. Instead, prop the oven door open and let it sit inside the oven for an hour.
Afterward, remove from the oven, but allow the cheesecake to cool. (This will take hours). Once cool, place inside refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving. This allows the ingredients to meld, greatly enhancing the flavor.
When ready to serve, simply garnish with your favorite toppings, such as strawberries, bananas, caramel, whipped topping, etc. Enjoy!

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