For those who when given the choice, will always choose chocolate over vanilla. This Very Vanilla Cheesecake sits on a buttery vanilla wafer crust and uses both vanilla extract and real vanilla beans in the batter.
- 8 ounces vanilla wafer cookies
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- cream cheese (2 lbs. brick-style, at room temperature)
- 1 1/8 cups granulated sugar
- 2 vanilla beans
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs (at room temperature)
- cream cheese (3oz. brick-style, at room temperature)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Lightly grease the sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan with softened butter.
- Create four sheets of tin foil approximately 18” long each. Lay one sheet of tinfoil over another to create a cross.
- Make another foil cross with the remaining two sheets of tin foil, and position it at an angle over the first cross, creating a jagged circle.
- Place the spring-form pan in the center of the foil circle. Pull the edges of the foil up the sides of the pan and tightly secure on the top edges of the pan. Pack the foil closely to the circumference of the pan.
- Place the vanilla wafers in the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender. Pulse into fine crumbs.
- Transfer the cookie crumbs to a mixing bowl.
- Place the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 45-60 seconds, until melted.
- Pour the melted butter over the cookie crumbs. Use a large fork to mix until the crumbs are evenly moistened and hold together when pinched.
- Carefully turn the cookie crumb mixture into the spring-form pan.
- Using a tamper or the bottom of a heavy glass, tightly pack the crumbs into the base of the pan, creating an even crust.
- Transfer the spring-form pan to the middle rack of the preheated oven.
- Bake the crust for 9-11 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown.
- Remove the crust from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350° F.
- Place the cream cheese and granulated sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically, for 5 minutes, until the mixture is completely smooth and no lumps remain.
- Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Using the tip of a knife, carefully scrape the seeds from the husks. Add the seeds to the mixing bowl. Discard the husks.
- Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and salt to the bowl. Continue to beat on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes, until the cream is fully incorporated into the cream cheese.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Turn the mixer to the lowest speed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing just until no yellow streaks remain. The batter will should be the consistency of yogurt, and ivory in color.
- Pour the batter into the cooled cookie crust.
- Lightly tap the spring-form pan on a counter top 4-5 times to release any air bubbles.
- Place the spring-form pan inside a large roasting pan. Carefully fill the roasting pan with water, only until it reaches about ¾” up the sides of the spring-form pan
- Carefully transfer the pan to the middle rack of the preheated oven.
- Bake the cheesecake for 80-95 minutes, taking care to not open the oven door while it bakes. Test that the cheesecake is done by gently shaking the pan. The edges should be firm, and the very center still slightly wobbly.
- Turn off the oven and crack the door open 1-2”. Allow the cheesecake to rest in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and transfer to the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake for a minimum of 6 hours, preferably overnight.
- To unmold the cheesecake, carefully run a butter knife around the inside edges of the pan. Undo the clasp and slowly remove the sides in an upward motion.
- Place 3 oz. of cream cheese and 3 Tbs. (37 g) of granulated sugar into a large mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until completely smooth.
- Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract to the bowl. Beat on low speed to incorporate the heavy cream into the cream cheese.
- Turn the mixer to medium-high speed, and beat for 2-3 minutes, until the whipped cream holds stiff peaks. Do not over-beat.
- Spread or pipe the whipped cream cheese over the top of the cheesecake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.