Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

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
Servings: 12
Author: Joe the Baker
  • 200 grams butter
  • 125 grams brown sugar
  • teaspoon honey
  • 185 grams pastry flour
  • 45 grams whole wheat flour
  • 15 grams rye flour
  • 1 grams baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 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. Crumble and hydrate with melted butter and vanilla extract to the consistency of wet sand.
  9. Press crumb crust to the base and sides of your pan (a 6-8" mouse ring or springform mold will work) and bake at 325F until crisp, about 15-20 minutes.
Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
Servings: 12
Author: Joe the Baker
  • 18 ounces cream cheese or fromage blanc
  • 10 ounces sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean scraped
  • Zest of two clementines optional
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 5 ounces heavy cream
  • 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.
Recipe Notes

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.

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