September 10, 2010

Vanilla Bean Mousse Cheesecake

How do you like your cheesecake? Thin graham crust with a dense cream cheese top, baked in a water bath? Shortbread crust, light cream cheese and sour cream top, baked long and slow? No crust, no-bake, gelatin set? Cottony Japanese cheesecake? The variations are endless and I haven’t even touched on flavour possibilities. When I think of cheesecake my ideal is something dense and richly full of cream cheese, preferably baked and usually with fruit and booze incorporated somehow. It’s funny how people’s interpretations of the same thing can be so very different. What one person finds perfectly accepted, can turn another off completely.

I’m generally not a fan of no-bake cheesecakes but that’s probably because they were on the menu when I worked at the restaurant and I had to make a whole lot of them. When my friend V requested that I make her a no-bake cheesecake, quite honestly, I wasn’t overly enthused, but after looking around a few blogs I settled upon a recipe from Dessert First that was appealing and I simply tweaked it to match the ingredients I had on hand. Much to my surprise, I quite like how it turned out too. It’s not at all like the cheesecakes I usually enjoy, the texture is on the verge of being a mousse, but it’s pretty awesome nonetheless. I especially like the gingersnap crust instead of the typical graham and really, you can never go wrong with using real vanilla beans.

I was in Tonga a few months ago and I acquired a bunch of vanilla beans so I’ve been using them in everything I bake. I love the telltale black flecks that identify that a real vanilla bean has been used instead of extract.

Vanilla Bean Mousse Cheesecake (Adapted from Green Tea Cheesecake from Dessert First)

1 cup gingersnap crumbs
4 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
10 ounces whipping cream
12 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
7 ounces milk
1 vanilla bean
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line a 9x9 square pan with parchment paper and butter lightly.
Combine gingersnap crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a medium bowl until well combined and crumbly. Press firmly into the bottom of the pan with your fingers.
Bake in oven for about 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack while you make the filling.
Whip the cream in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Set cream aside.
In a clean mixer bowl, beat cream cheese until soft and creamy (do not overbeat and liquefy it). Add the sugar and beat to combine.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until almost boiling. Split vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pot, add the bean. Remove from heat and let steep 15 minutes. Return and heat until almost boiling, remove from heat and remove the vanilla bean.
Bloom gelatin in about 3 tablespoons of water.
Add in the milk to the cream cheese and mix until combined.
Fold in the whipped cream gently with a rubber spatula until combined.
If the gelatin is solid, heat in microwave for 10 seconds at a time until liquid. Make sure it is liquid or it will not blend smoothly with the cheesecake.
Add the gelatin to the cheesecake mixture and fold until combined.
Pour the cheesecake mixture into prepared pan.
Refrigerate for at least an hour until set.


Anonymous said...

Oh my... *slurp*

emiglia said...

I'm in your cheesecake camp--I like them in a water bath, dense and creamy. But I started using Speculoos for the crust (like Belgian gingersnaps) when I moved to France and graham crackers weren't readily accessible, and Oh. My. God. The extra flavor added by the crust is so good! Will have to try your "boozy" suggestion...

Deborah said...

You know when you see those little flecks of vanilla bean that it is going to be good!