Over the past two weeks, several exciting things have happened. 1. My parents came to visit me for the first time, which means I got to hang out at their hotel (which had a waterslide into the pool, by the way) and eat and drink for free for a whole week. 2. I got a job I really really wanted. STOKED! 3. It was my birthday.
So with so many things happening all at once, I obviously had to make something fantastic to celebrate. So I decided to try and conquer Cheesecake Factory’s Vanilla Bean Cheesecake. Now, if you’ve never had this particular cheesecake before, google where the closest Cheesecake factory is to you and order yourself a slice. Heck, order yourself a whole cake. It’s that good. (I do not work for Cheesecake Factory, nor was I paid in any way to say this.) That particular Vanilla Bean cheesecake is hands down my favorite cheesecake in the whole world. And I love me some cheesecake.
But if you’ve ever been to Cheesecake Factory, you know it is not cheap. And yes, I got a new job, but it pays less than half what I used to make. (It’s not as stupid as it sounds, it’s an awesome job in other ways). So since I can’t afford to buy myself a cheesecake, and homemade things taste better anyways, I decided to try my hand at replicating it. Now, I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but, toot toot! It came out pretty ding dang delicious. Seriously, go try this.
Vanilla Bean Cheesecake (inspired by the Cheesecake Factory)
Crust (adapted from bake! by Nick Malgieri)
- a little less than 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted after measuring
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (spoon into your measuring cup and level off. Actually, you should really almost always measure flour this way unless the directions say otherwise)
- 1 pinch salt (~ 1/8 tsp)
- 1 stick cold butter, cubed
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp corn starch (or 4 tbsp flour if, like me, you don’t have corn starch for some reason)
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
- 1 1/2 vanilla beans, split and seeds removed
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
- 2 egg whites (from very fresh eggs, as they won’t be cooked)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- just over 1 cup heavy cream (you could use up to 1 1/2 cups if you have it)
- powdered sugar to taste (I just dump it in until it tastes good, you don’t need it too sweet)
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- FOR THE CRUST: Combine sugar, flour and salt in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse repeatedly until you can no longer see butter chunks. Add the yolk and vanilla and pulse until dough forms a ball.
- Invert the dough onto a floured surface and form into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- When ready to roll, take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up just a touch on the counter (10-15 minutes) so it doesn’t crack. Butter and line with a circle of parchment paper a 9 or 10 inc springform pan. Roll it out until it is about 1/2 inch larger in diameter than the pan you are using. Place the dough into the pan and press it into the bottom and 1/8 to 1/4 inch up the sides. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
- FOR THE CHEESECAKE: Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, corn starch and sugar in a medium bowl and mix until well blended. Add the butter and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Set aside.
- Bake the empty crust (without filling) for 15 minutes or until light brown. As soon as it’s done, pour in the cheesecake filling and bake for another 35-45 minutes (Mine actually took significantly longer than this because it wouldn’t set in the middle. If I did it again I might turn down the heat and bake it for longer so it won’t turn out as brown on the sides)
- Allow to cool completely on a rack.
- FOR THE MOUSSE: In a medium bowl, whip together the egg whites and 1/3 cup of sugar until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, whip together the heavy cream, vanilla bean seeds, and the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar until stiff.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the whipped cream and refrigerate while cheesecake is cooling.
- Once cheesecake is completely cool, spread the mousse evenly over the top and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM: Combine heavy cream, vanilla bean seeds, and sugar in a medium bowl and whip until you have semi-hard whipped cream (just don’t overwhip it)
- Spread the whipped cream over the top of the mousse and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Unmold the cake just before serving and store in a cake holder in the fridge for up to a week. (ours started tasting a little bit like fridge after 5 days). EAT and ENJOY!!