Monday, November 12, 2012

Raise your hand if you love cheesecake!

My guess is that if you found your way here, you're likely a lover of cheesecake and all other divinely decadent desserts. Welcome to the club, new friend! I'm sure you'd agree that despite how delicious cheesecake is, it's hardly something to indulge in all the time unless you have an ungodly metabolism. More power to you if you do! However, the general rule of thumb in this house is that we gorge ourselves on it once a year when I make Mr. J a homemade cheesecake for his birthday. Our standby is strawberry, but he also loves caramel and we had a ton of vanilla beans left over from another project (I promise to post about that adventure soon!). While on the hunt for a new recipe to tackle, I found this one from Allrecipes.com. If you read it, you'll see that it makes way too much cheesecake batter. I altered it to fit our needs and tastes.

                                            I layered a bit of the caramel sauce onto the cheesecake
                                                       before baking. I recommend doing it!

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

1 (18 oz) package of vanilla sandwich cookies
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise with seeds scraped out
1/4 cup butter, melted

3 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
3 vanilla beans, cut lengthwise with seeds scraped out
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
  •   Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly butter a 10 inch springform pan.
  •   Crush vanilla cookies into crumbs (you can pulse them in a blender or multitask by doing some anger management: put cookies in a sealed plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin). In a bowl, use your hands to combine the crumbs, vanilla bean seeds, and butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the springform pan and halfway up the sides.
  •  Use a standing or handheld electric mixer to beat cream cheese for 3 minutes until it's smooth. Beat in the sweetened condense milk, then the eggs one at a time. Be sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding another. Add in the vanilla bean seeds, extracts, sour cream, and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1 minute.
  •   Pour the mixture onto the crust. Place cheesecake onto middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake rest in there for another hour. Cover the cheesecake with a layer of plastic wrap and aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Homemade Caramel Sauce
(I am pretty sure I wrote this down while I was watching Sunny Anderson on the Food Network.)

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

  •   In a small saucepan or small skillet, combine sugar and water and put on medium heat. THIS IS WHEN YOU DON'T TOUCH IT! You get to just leave it alone--how glorious is that! You want to watch it closely, though, as well as open a window or turn on your fan. You're burning, or caramelizing, the sugar: it tends to smell a bit unpleasant at this stage. 
  •   After about 5 minutes, the edges will turn golden brown. Pull off the heat and quickly whisk in the cream. Beware: it will froth up! Move your whisk very quickly to prevent a giant, hardened mess.
  •   Bring the mixture back to a boil. Stir for about 30 seconds. This helps homogenize the sauce and melt any hardened bits created when you added the cream.
  •   Pull off the heat. Add the extract. Allow the sauce to cool so it can thicken.
  •   Pour over a slice of the cheesecake.

                                                         Welcome to heaven, friends.

                                                    That's a hunka burnin love, right there.