Oh, how I want to break out into September songs — you know, something like, “Do you remembaahh the 21st night of Septembaaahh,” or maybe slow it down a touch with September Song by Frank Sinatra. I love them both, and either one has me jumping for freaking joy that autumn is just around the corner. Turning leaves, lots of football and the best-smelling desserts of the year. As I so often do, I am creating a special treat for a lovely Boulder Weekly reader. I assume she’s lovely, and not emailing me from her dark, dank BAR basement eRISTORANTE apartment that she never leaves, but regardless she wants a fruity cheesecake recipe, and that’s what she’s getting — Raspberry Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Not very football-ey or autumn-like, but there is plenty of time for that, and, gosh darn it, my basement dweller demanded it.
This is a creamy, dreamy, flavor extravaganza of a dessert. Can’t go too wrong with cheesecake, but the vanilla bean/raspberry combo is one you won’t soon forget.
Do not be afraid of the vanilla bean pod. It is your friend. It means no harm; it just likes to give people a hard time now and then. Keeps its little life interesting. Using vanilla bean is simple: Cut down the middle and scrape. The smell that remains on your fingers is worth any problems you might encounter. Nothing beats seeing those little specks of vanilla bean in any treat that you make. After I scrape out the seeds, I like popping the bean into some vodka (shocking newsflash) and letting it do its thing. You let that sit all day or over night and — holy libations! — you have one tasty cocktail. Talk about intoxicating aroma of deliciousness.
OK, back to the cheesecake. I use a little bit of lemon zest to add a fabulous freshness. I top the cheesecake with the raspberries, and they bake perfectly down into the cake. Be sure to save a few for garnish, and a few for your delish vanilla bean cocktail. Homemade whipped cream is how I roll with this dessert. It’s simple to make and really sets it over the edge. The ever-popular graham cracker crust adds the last piece, and I wouldn’t make this cheesecake without it — a perfect match.
So all in all, you will love this recipe (and your cocktail, I hope), and hopefully my reader will dig what I did and finally make it out of the basement. Now, follow the directions, put some love into it, and invite me over when it’s done.
Raspberry vanilla bean cheesecake
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12 crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp. butter (melted)
24 ounces cream cheese (three blocks, softened)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
1/8 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tbsp. flour zest from one lemon
2-1/2 cups raspberries powdered sugar for dusting whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350. Wrap foil around bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Place pan on baking sheet.
Combine graham crackers, sugar and butter. Press down and slightly up sides of pan. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Take out and set aside. Keep on baking sheet.
In large bowl, whip cream cheese until smooth. Add in sour cream, sugar and vanilla bean that has been split down the middle and scraped. Add in eggs one at a time. Mix in salt, flour and lemon zest. Whip batter until smooth and creamy.
Pour batter over top of baked crust.
Top with 2 cups raspberries. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until center is still jiggly.
Take out and leave cheesecake pan on baking sheet for 30 minutes, then place cheesecake pan on cooling rack. Let cool completely. Place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
When ready to serve, dust top with powdered sugar, remove ring and cut into slices. Garnish with leftover raspberries, and top with whipped cream.