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Classic Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • For the crust:
  • ¾ cup (75 grams) graham cracker crumbs (9 to 11 graham crackers)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt

  • For the filling:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened (see headnote)
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • ⅓ cup crème fraèche or sour cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons brandy
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs

Procedures:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. To make the crust, combine crumbs, butter, brown sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Pat into the bottom of a 6- or 7-inch springform pan, patting it all over the bottom and ½ to 1 inch up the sides. Bake until golden brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer it to a rack to cool.

Make the filling: Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar until the mixture is very smooth (this could take several minutes). Then add the crème fraèche, beating again until incorporated. Use a paring knife to scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean so that they drop into the mixer bowl (save the pod for another purpose). Add the brandy and salt and beat again until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Pour the filling into the prepared pan, and cover the top of the springform pan with aluminum foil.

Fill the pressure cooker with ½" of water. You can either place a steamer rack in the pot and then lower the cake pan onto the rack using a homemade sling (see page 15) or, if you have a rack with an attached handle, simply lower the rack and pan together. Cover and cook on high pressure for 32 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 8 minutes, and then release the remaining pressure manually. Lift the pan out of the pressure cooker and transfer it to a wire rack. Remove the foil. Only the outside of the cheesecake should be fully set; the inside will set further as it cools. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature.

Chill the cheesecake for at least 8 hours and preferably overnight. Release the springform sides to serve.

by Melissa Clark

 
 
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