Vanilla Bean and Cherry Cheesecake

It’s about time that this exiled New Yorker baked a cheesecake. It was probably my favorite dessert growing up. I would walk across all of Manhattan to find the best cheesecake. Carnegie Deli was one of my favorite, all at once dense and creamy.

I created the following recipe to match the creaminess of Carnegie Deli’s, but with a fluffier texture. I use a mixture of light cream cheese and full-fat cream cheese, and light cream to make it slightly less calorie-laden. And I only use ½ cup of sugar! Most recipes are double or triple that. This isn’t so much to cut calories, as it is to make it less overwhelmingly sweet. Plus, it allows you to play around with flavors. You could ladle melted chocolate or dulce de leche on the cookie crust before pouring out the cream batter, and you wouldn’t have to worry about readjusting the sugar content.

 

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A little word of warning: sometimes (actually, most of the time), water from the water bath leaks into the cheesecake while it is baking. Let me reassure you, this won’t affect its taste.

 

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Makes 1 big cheesecake or 2 small ones (cooking time doesn’t change)


Cookie Crust

50 g melted butter

150 g Digestive cookies (or graham crackers or Oreos or gluten-free cookies)

 
Batter

800g of cream cheese (you can do a mix of low fat and full fat)

½ c white sugar

Seeds of 1 scraped vanilla bean

3 eggs

½ c light cream

¼ cup cherry jam

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F or 160°C and fill a large baking pan halfway with hot water. Make sure your spring-form cheesecake pan fits inside of it. Line your cheesecake pan with wax paper, then cover the entire bottom of your baking tin (the part that will be in contact with the water) with aluminum foil.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the Digestive cookies and the melted butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press evenly into the bottom of your spring-form pan.
  3. Cream the cream cheese, white sugar, and vanilla beans until batter is white and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and the cream. Whisk until well combined.
  5. Fold in the jam so that your batter is just streaked.
  6. Pour onto your cookie crust. Place your spring-form tin in the water bath and place in the oven.
  7. Bake for 55 minutes or until only the center of your cheesecake jiggles like jello.
  8. Turn off your oven but DON’T take your cheesecake out. Stick a wooden spoon in the door of your oven for 30 minutes. It will help the cheesecake to set.
  9. Take it out of the oven and out of the water bath. Take the foil off and let come to room temperature (another 30 minutes).
  10. Refrigerate in its spring-form tin at least 4 hours before unmolding and serving.

 

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cherry cheesecake

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