Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vanilla Bean and Crème de Violette Cheesecake

I realize, cheesecake is nothing new to me, and you've seen a few pictures of my variations, but I'm going to have to come out and say it, you're about to see a lot more with this one. It's just sooo good looking, I can't help it. I took pictures from every angle, in all lighting, just to figure out which would come out best, and honestly I love them all. I'm like a proud parent of my little 9 inch, Vanilla Bean and Crème de Violette Cheesecake.
That top layer of Crème de Violette gave a brilliant, light blue color, and reminded me of Easter pastels or baby booties. And my favorite thing about using vanilla beans is seeing the little tiny seeds, a sign of authenticity. Not to say I don't swoon at the smell of a good vanilla extract. The combination of a thin layer of shiny blue and bean-specked cheese, against a buttery golden crust was a sight.
Enough about how it looks. How does it taste? I'm not gonna lie, it was good. Real good. So good Dan thinks it might've knocked my first, classic, reigning winner, plain Cheesecake out of the top position. So that's to say that the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake is up there. I think another key to getting a perfectly smooth textured cheesecake is taking it out about 5-10 minutes underdone. It will harden a bit in the fridge, but be just on the verge of melting if you take it out at the right time.
I only had one vanilla bean available (I've since taken care of that and ordered a whole pound, thanks to Traveler's Lunchbox), so I would've liked to see more seeds, but with a vanilla bean and extract the flavor was right on. I knew I wanted to do a vanilla cheesecake, and the top layer's always something fun you can play around with, and this time, I decided on crème de violette. So I strongly suggest you try a vanilla bean cheesecake, and think about some fun flavors you could add as the top layer, like rose essence.

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

125 g butter
200 g maria cookies

600 g cream cheese
75 g butter
1 vanilla bean
2-3 Tbsp vanilla extract
150 g sugar
4 eggs

crème de violette layer
250 g quark
Lots of creme de violette (2-3 Tbsp)
Powdered sugar

First preheat your oven to 170 C, then crush up the maria cookies and melt the butter and mix well together. Then press into the bottom and sides of a springform pan and put in the oven for about 10 minutes until the cookies turn a little darker.
Now make sure your cream cheese is room temperature (it's easy just to leave it out for a few hours before cooking). Take the butter and melt in a pan over low heat. While it's melting, split the vanilla bean in half, scrape out the seeds into the butter and throw in the bean and continue to cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Now stir the cream cheese around in a bowl until fluffy-ish, and pour in the butter, taking out the vanilla bean, and mix together. Add the sugar and stir well, then add vanilla extract to taste. Finally, stir in the eggs until everything is well mixed and you have a wonderful vanilla flavor and pour into the springform pan. At 180C, cook for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are set but it's still pretty wobbly in the middle.
Finally, you mix the top layer. Now I normally use crème fraiche or sour cream, but lacking that I went for quark (I'm not really sure what it is…a fresh cheese or something, consistency of yogurt) and it turned out great--I would use it again. So I mixed the quark with lots of Crème de Violette and powdered sugar until it was sweet and had an amazing baby blue color (as noted before). Then cook for 10-15 minutes (I can't even remember how long I did for, just keep an eye on it till it's bubbling and the edges are darkening). The only difference I noticed with the quark was that it came out a little firmer than the rest of the cheesecake, which is fine because the rest was silky and smooth...

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