Not really sure why, to be quiet frank. I'm on vacation, not stressed in the least, getting enough sleep & eating right, and super privileged. But I panicked. Anxiety & helplessness crept into my mind, manifested in my body, & I freaked. Have you ever had one of those?
I'm scared it won't taste as good as the cheesecake on FRIENDS!!!
But all that is a bunch of bologna. Really truly. It's easier than you think, & you will fall into your friends' super impressive list when you show up to a party with this in hand.
I hope you have all had a lovely 2013! Thanks for walking & baking along with me this year. You're great.
Salted Caramel Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (processed in a food processor or blender is best)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound (2 blocks) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 vanilla beans
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Place two rack in the upper and bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. You’ll need a 9-inch springform and a 9×13-inch pan for boiling water.
To make the crust, place cookies in the bowl of a food processor and grind to a fine crumb. If you don’t have a food processor you can crumble cookies in a zip lock bag with a rolling pin. Once you’ve created a fine crumb, add brown sugar, salt, and butter. Toss together, moistening all of the graham cracker crumbs. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch spring form pan and press with fingers until bottom & the bottom half of the sides are evenly coated with crust.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you make the cheesecake filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Place a tea kettle of water on the stove top to boil. We’re going to add hot water to the 9×13-inch pan to place under the baking cheesecake.
To make the cheesecake filling: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese and granulated sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in salt, scraped out vanilla bean, and vanilla extract until well incorporated. Add eggs, beating one at a time between each addition. Once creamy and smooth, slowly beat in the cream, beating on medium high until creamy and luscious.
Pour cheesecake mixture into the prepared cheesecake crust.
Place 9×13-inch pan in the bottom shelf of the hot oven. Carefully pout in hot water, and fill to 1/2 full. Push into oven.
Place cheesecake on the upper oven shelf. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until cheesecake is browned and puffed. When cheesecake is puffed and doesn’t have loose jiggle in the center, turn oven off and use a towel to prop the oven open slightly. Let cheesecake rest for another 45 minutes in the cooling oven. Remove from the oven and cool completely, for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best.
While the cheesecake cools, make the caramel so it can cool as well.
To make the caramel, add sugar, water, and corn syrup to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring once or twice. Bring to a boil and allow to brown. (don't leave alone on the stove; it is a small window from once the sugar starts browning to when it is done cooking! Don't burn your sugar, y'all) Once sugar has browned to a medium amber color, remove from heat and immediately add heavy cream and butter. Mixture will boil and foam. Stir well. Add salt and stir well to incorporate. Caramel may seem thin… that’s ok. Place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.
Pour the cooled caramel over the cooled cheesecake, return to the refrigerator until ready to serve. Sprinkle with a dash of sea salt then slice and serve.
Cheesecake will last for up to 4 days, well wrapped in the refrigerator. But let's be real; it's not going to last that long.
Source: adapted from Dorie Greenspan & Zoe Nathan
Listening to: "parks & rec" in the next room