Last weekend, Galya and I were invited to a little housewarming party, where we had some wonderful food, great company, and some tasty pomegranate wine. ...which paired beautifully with a slice or three of my vanilla bean cheesecake, as it turned out.
I will state up front that dessert is something that should be eaten in moderation, carefully, and selectively. It's shouldn't be a daily part of your diet plan. In the spirit of that, I give you a calorie bomb cheesecake that I urge you to eat less of, but less often.
Vanilla bean cheesecake
4 mini-springform cheesecake pans. Makes four mini-cheesecakes or one really big one. I use these mini springform pans, from Kaiser. I have two sets, and actually made six cakes because that's what fit on my oval platter.
1-2 cookie sheets. The butter from the crust will seep out, so baking on the cookie sheets will make cleanup easier.
1 plastic package honey graham cracker crumbs (about 2 cups)
2 tsp sugar
.25 cup melted butter
Crush the crackers into crumbs - personally, I like to leave some chunks of larger cracker pieces, but that's just me - and stir in the sugar. Drizzle the melted butter over the crackers and stir well. Divide the mixture evenly throughout the four pans. Using the base of a jar or cup, press the crumbs firmly into the pan bases.
16 oz cream cheese or Neufchatel, softened at room temperature
.5 cups sugar
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Set the cream cheese in a bowl for an hour or so. While you are at it, set the sour cream from the next step out in a bowl, too. Softened, they will be much easier to mix. Add the eggs and sugar and start mixing. If you have a mixer, feel free, but a large wooden spoon also works. I have a mixer out in the garage, but it's too much trouble to go get it. I used a large wooden spoon and a mixing bowl. Once it's well combined, you can switch to a whisk to smooth things out. To be honest, some lumps still existed in the end, but who can tell?
Pour filling over each crust, using the back of a wet spoon to smooth things out and fill in the gaps.
Bake at 375° for 20 minutes and remove to a save place, allowing them to cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 425°.
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tbsp sugar
Stir the sugar into the room temperature sour cream. Gently spread the topping over the slightly cooled cheesecakes. Use the back of a wet spoon to smooth things out.
Return the cakes to the over for about 10 minutes.
Beware that seeping butter, at 425°, tends to smoke a bit. Crack a window and turn on the vent hood, lest your smoke detector start to scream.
Remove from the oven and cool enough so that they can be safely covered with foil or plastic wrap. Chill for several hours or overnight.
I cut each cake into four wedges, arranging all of the cakes on the platter. Galya hulled and cut two pints of strawberries, which decorated the cake tops, and were nestled between them.