Juniors Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Juniors Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

four (8 oz) packages Philidaphia Cream Cheese (I use 3 packages of 1/3 less fat Neufchtel and 1 package of original cream cheese), at room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (about 7 inches long)
1 recipe 9-inch Junior’s Sponge Cake Crust, recipe below
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs ( 3 large eggs are fine too)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
one half pint fresh raspberries (about 6 ounces) (optional)
confectioners’s sugar

The night before you plan to make this cake, put the granulated sugar in a
small bowl and bury the vanilla bean in it, covering it completely. Cover
tightly with plastic wrap and let stand overnight to flavor the sugar. When
you are ready to make the cake, set the vanilla bean for later use.

Preheat oven to 350F. (I used 325F)Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springformpan. Wrap the outside with aluminium foil, covering the
bottom and extending all the way up the sides. Make and bake the cake crust and leave it in the pan. Keep the oven on.

Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of vanilla flavored sugar, and the
cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy,
about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. Blend in the remaining
cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one.
Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 1/3cups
vanilla sugar, then the scraped vanilla beans and vanilla extract. Blend in
the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the
cream just until it’s completely blended. Be careful not to be overmix.
Gently spoon the batter on top of the crust.

Place the cake on a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about
1 inch u the sides of the springform. Bake until the edges are light golden
brown and the top is slightly golden tan, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the
cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let the cake
cool for 2 hours. Leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic
wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight or at
least 4 hours.

Wash and drain the raspberries and place them on paper towels to dry, if
using. Release and remove the sides of the springform, leaving the cake on
the bottom of the pan. Place on a cake plate. Put some confectioners’ sugar
in a tea stainer and sift enough over the top of the cake to evenly cover it
with a fine dusting. Decorate the top with raspberries. Refrigerate until
ready to serve. Slice the cold cake with a sharp straight edge knife, not a
serrated one. Cover any leftover cake and refrigerate, or remove the
decorations, wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.

Junior’s sponge cake crust

For one 9-inch cake crust:
1/3 cup sifted cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 extra large eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 drops pure lemon extract (or zest of half a lemon)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For one 8-inch cake crust:
1/4 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder pinch of salt
2 extra large eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 drops pure lemon extract (I used zest from half a lemon)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350F and generously butter the bottom and sides of a 8-
or 9-inch springform pan (preferably a nonstick one). Wrap the outsde with
aluminium foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides.

In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Beat the eggyolks in large bowl with an electric mixer on high for 3
minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and
beat until thick light yellow ribbons form, about 5 minutes more. Beat in
the extracts.

Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until no
more white flecks appear. Now, blend in the melted butter.

Now wash the bowl and beaters really well (even a little fat is left, this
can cause the eggwhite not to whip). Put the eggwhites and cream of tartar
into the bowl and beat with the mixer on high until frothy. Gradually add
the remainining sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form (the
whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry). Fold about one-third of the
whites into the batter, then the remaining whites. It’s ok if you see a few
white specks, they will disappear during baking.

Gently spread out the batter over the bottom of the pan, and bake just until
set and golden (not wet and sticky), about 10 minutes. Touch the cake gently in the center. If it springs back, it’s done. Watch carefully and don’t let the top brown. Leave the crust in the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.
Leave the oven on while you prepare the batter.

Dark Chocolate Sponge Cake Crust Use the above recipe and technique, except you stir in 2 ounces of melted and slightly cooled bittersweet chocolate when you add the extracts.

Adapted From Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook