Vanilla Bean Cheesecake 15

Update: This post has gotten a lot of traffic from Pinterest users, many of whom have told me they are not comfortable working with grams.  First of all, welcome to my site!   Secondly, you don’t have to be a professional chef (or a mathemetician) to follow my recipes!  Before you pull out your calculator, please see my post on How (and Why) to Scale Ingredients.  It’s surprisingly simple!

For many, cheesecake is the quintessential dessert.  It is tart, creamy, rich, and a malleable platform for seasonal flair.  If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know that I have a penchant for questioning the classics.  This week the graham cracker crumb crust fell under my crosshairs.  


Upon reflection, I couldn’t remember ever learning why there is typically a crumb crust on this cake.  In my opinion, the thin layer of crust tends to be overshadowed by thick portions of custard.  So I hit up one of the most reliable sources for trusted data among chefs- Twitter.  I was hoping to have someone address the proportion issue and Chef Francisco Migoya delivered:

          @fmigoya: “I like a good crust. Ratio is off though. Cheesecake should be surrounded by crust.”

While I felt vindicated, this still didn’t answer my question of why there was crumb crust on cheesecake.  Ultimately it was chef Carolyn Nugent who gave us a history lesson:

          @cnuge: “Dates back to “Le Schuss” a French entremet made w Fromage Blanc and sable or speculos crust. Tradition!”

With this new knowledge in hand, I decided to throw together my own version of this classic favorite.  As always, I am very thankful for my fellow chefs’ willingness to share their insights.   

Speculoos Cookie Crust
Serves 12
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  1. 200 grams butter
  2. 125 grams brown sugar
  3. teaspoon honey
  4. 185 grams pastry flour
  5. 45 grams whole wheat flour
  6. 15 grams rye flour
  7. 1 grams baking soda
  8. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  9. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Cream together the butter, sugar, and honey until completely smooth.
  2. Separately, combine all the dry ingredients and sift to distribute.
  3. Mix into the butter mixture until completely incorporated.
  4. Remove from bowl and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
  5. Refrigerate until firm.
  6. Roll to desired thickness and bake at 350F until the cookie is browned on the edges.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the tray.
  8. Store in an airtight container.
  1. Crumble these cookies and hydrate with melted butter and vanilla extract to the consistency of wet sand for a crumb crust. Press at the base of the pan and bake until crisp again.
Joe the Baker
Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
Serves 12
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  1. 18 ounces cream cheese or fromage blanc
  2. 10 ounces sugar
  3. 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  4. Zest of two clementines (optional)
  5. 6 egg yolks
  6. 5 ounces heavy cream
  7. 4 ounces plain yogurt
  1. Cream together the cheese, sugar, scraped vanilla seeds, salt, and citrus zest until smooth.
  2. Add the yolks in pairs, scraping after each addition.
  3. Finally, add the heavy cream and yogurt and mix until completely smooth at low speed.
  4. Once the custard seems smooth, pass through fine mesh strainer and reserve for use.
  5. Bake in a 6-8" springform pan at 325F until the custard is fully set.
  6. Allow the cake to cool gently, then remove from pan and cool completely before serving.
  1. A water bath can be used around the cheesecake pan to ensure slow expansion and contraction of the cheesecake. Allow the cake to cool completely in the water before serving.
Joe the Baker

About Joe the Baker

Joe the Baker is a classically-trained pastry chef who specializes in French macarons and viennoiserie. He currently sells his delicious confections online, at the Coppell Farmers Market, and at DFW-area gourmet grocers.

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15 thoughts on “Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

    • Joe Post author

      Actually, I don’t use spring form pans because of their limited application. Professional kitchens have extremely limited space, so most chefs opt for more multi-purpose tools. In the photo I used a 7″ mousse/cake ring and baked the cheesecake at extremely low temperature to ensure the almost 5″ height baked evenly. This cheesecake recipe can be baked in any shape pan or tray as long as you use a low temperature to reduce the chance of cracking.

  • yeliz


    i am from Germany and i really want to try your recipe it looks so delicious 🙂
    But i have a question about the crust. I understand the parts till 5. But what i don’t understand ist when i bake the base i crushed it again? to make the Crust ( the sides) and the base?

    Thank you in advance.

  • Bryan

    forgive me if I’m wrong, but I’ve searched your recipe for the size of pan you used for this recipe. I cannot, for the life of me, find it.

  • francine

    I made this! my thoughts: Positives: 1) Delish! Especially the added citrus. 2) Never worked with a vanilla bean- loved that! Note: slit it open, pull out the seeds! If you chop up the bean, no worries, you can pull out your big pieces when sifting the custard!) 3) LOVED LOVED LOVED the crust! So tired of the graham cracker crust so I was intrigued by your recipe Joe. I have to admit, I was tempted to use the graham crackers I had in my cupboard but didn’t (so grateful as I loved yours!) A few things: 1) I had no idea you had to pre-bake the formed crust until I read the comments (thank God!), 2) I had no idea how long to bake the cheesecake (fully-set? Huh?! This was the first cheesecake I ever made but it all worked out…YAY!)

    I would definitely make this recipe again even though it may have been the most challenging recipe (weight conversions but whatever. I really do want to start baking in weights so I thank you for challenging me!) Thanks for this recipe Joe! Signed, your new fan.