The Boy and I spent this past Sunday morning playing five rounds of Candyland (he won 4 of the 5 games), working on a 500 piece puzzle (with his newly made Lego jet watching nearby) and making a vanilla bean cheesecake.
He woke up hungry and asked for a plum. Half an hour later that plum came out the way it went in. He seemed to feel better after this episode… until he stood in the middle of the living room 10 minutes later, wondering whether or not he was going to be sick again.
Not a good sign.
So we spent the morning together at home instead of at church. Mr. Crumbs asked me to take care of one thing while he and The Girl were away – to make dessert for family dinner, and he respectfully requested vanilla bean cheesecake. With strawberries.
Argh! It’s like a double whammy from the arch nemesis!
- I don’t have a go-to cheesecake recipe. You guys sent me lots of great recommendations when I asked last Christmas, but none of them brought about the “wow” factor that I’m looking for (which is probably my own fault since I can’t help but tweak recipes every.single.time instead of just making it as it’s written!)
- I don’t have vanilla beans, and I know they’re expensive.
- Vanilla extract cheesecake just didn’t sound as appetizing.
I would have just said no if it weren’t for the look on his face. You know the look puppies give when you start to push them off the warm cuddle spot on your lap? Yeah, it’s was kinda like that.
So he and The Girl left and The Sick Boy and I took a walk to the grocery store for more cream cheese and to price out vanilla beans.
Holy smokes ya’ll, those things aren’t just expensive. They’re EXPENSIVE! One brand was $11 for ONE bean. Most recipes called for three beans, but there was no way I was spending $33 on just the flavor of a cheesecake.
I settled on another brand (the ONLY other brand) that had two beans in the jar for $14. Certainly not frugal, but the best I was going to do given the situation.
Note for next time: I stumbled across these vanilla beans on Amazon and 44¢ each is an EXCELLENT deal. I have some Amazon money that I earned through Swagbucks so when I buy, this splurge won’t come out of my grocery budget. 😉 Plus I can use extras to make homemade vanilla extract and vanilla sugar! [Swagbucks is a search engine that rewards you with points, that you redeem for gift cards and other cool prizes. No joke, I’ve earned over $300 so far! Read this post to learn more about Swagbucks.]
The Boy and I came home and got to work. This recipe is the one we started with, although I did quite a bit of altering with trying to reduce sugar, not spend an arm and a leg on vanilla beans while maintaining a strong vanilla flavor.
Folks, the eagle has landed.
This is the only cheesecake I’ve made where both my dad (a chef) AND my husband have given me the thumbs up to make again. It was so good in fact, that they agreed the strawberry topping wasn’t needed! I’m including that recipe anyway at the bottom, because it would be absolutely divine over whole wheat pancakes.
The cheesecake itself is creamy, light and full of flavor. The sour cream layer is tangy with just a hint of sweet (the favorite part for both my step-mom and me). The whole thing is amazing, and you cannot go wrong making it for any occasion.
- 1½ cups shortbread cookie crumbs (approx 20-25 small cookies)
- 6 tbsp butter, melted
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¾ cup almonds, chopped
- (4) 8oz packages of full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 2 whole vanilla beans
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 dropper full liquid vanilla stevia
- 2 cups full fat sour cream
- 2 droppers full liquid vanilla stevia
- See tips below before starting the recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan. Line a baking sheet wide enough to hold the springform pan with parchment paper.
- In a food processor or high powered blender (like a Blendtec or Vitamix), combine all the ingredients for the crust except the butter and pulse until it is crumbly. Add the melted butter and pulse again until combined. Press the mixture into the prepared springform pan, creating an even layer on the bottom and halfway up the sides. Using a flat-bottomed glass cup with straight sides would be helpful. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on low speed until creamy, taking care not to whip and add air to the cheese. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides and add one egg at a time, beating on low until the egg is fully incorporated. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the cream cheese mixture. Add the extract and stevia and beat on low until smooth and creamy. The batter will be on the thicker side.
- Put the springform pan on the baking sheet and pour the batter into the baked crust, filling the pan no more than ¾ full. (Any remaining batter can be poured into ramekins or eaten with a spoon.) Cover the springform pan with another baking sheet and bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes. Remove the baking sheet "lid" and continue to bake the cheesecake for 20-40 minutes, until the edges are set but the center is still jiggly like Jell-O.
- Combine the topping ingredients in a bowl and spread evenly over the baked cheesecake. Return the cheesecake to the oven and bake for 7 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool on wire racks for 1-2 hours. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle every time you stop the mixture.
- Never turn the mixer on higher than two notches.
- Cheesecakes always taste best the day after they’re made, but this one was delicious the day of too.
- A hint of lemon in the crust would be good. If you support Girl Scouts, buy a box of Savannah Smiles and save them for this recipe. The cookies do not contain high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils.
- If you’re unable to afford the vanilla beans, substitute vanilla extract. It won’t be exactly the same, but using 4 tsp of extract in this recipe will get you the strong vanilla flavor this recipe commands. As always, taste and add more if the vanilla flavor doesn’t clearly shine!
- 1-4 cups of organic strawberries, washed and green portions removed
- Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree into a sauce. No lemon juice, sugar or corn starch is needed!
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